STROUD has been named as one of the best places to live in the South West again.
The town returns to the top 10 South West locations included in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live for another year.
Described as a place where “alternative spirit trumps consumer concerns”, Stroud was one of just two Gloucestershire locations to make the annual list, with Cheltenham scooping the title of the Best Place to Live in the Southwest for 2020.
The supplement assesses a wide range of factors, from employment, schools and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops, in order to compile the definitive top locations to live.
Judges were impressed with the way that Stroud has remained ‘fiercely independent, but has resisted the vexing clichés of gentrification’.
They noted that “campaigning is part of the Stroud DNA”, adding that “Extinction Rebellion was founded here and trees, post offices, hospital units and even the high street have been preserved thanks to local pressure.
“Campaigning groups are still to the fore, whether discussing the health risks of mobile phones at the Beacon community centre or raising money to restore the Sub(scription) Rooms.”
Stroud’s range of independent traders, including “vinyl record stores and bookshops, market stalls and wonderful one-offs such as Made in Stroud, a temple to local arts and crafts, and the Fortune Faeries shop, ‘dedicated to the preservation and protection of all elemental beings'” were also highlighted.
Mention was made of the town’s organic cafe, Woodruffs, being the first in the country when it opened more than 21 years ago.
The farmers’ market was described as “magnificent”, and Stroud Brewery was noted for its vegan organic beer and as a friendly destination.
Stroud’s countryside was praised as “some of the lushest countryside the Cotswolds have to offer. Villages such as Minchinhampton and Rodborough are surrounded by wildflower-rich commons (helped by a National Trust biodiversity project).”
The town’s schools got a mention too: “The two grammars, Stroud High (girls) and Marling (boys), were rated outstanding by Ofsted at their last inspections (2010 and 2013 respectively). Both feature in The Sunday Times Parent Power guide, as do Rodborough and Foxmoor primaries, and Hopelands prep school.”
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the South West:
Winner: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Bear Flat, Bath
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Nadder Valley, Wiltshire
The winner was revealed on Sunday (22nd March), when the full guide was published in The Sunday Times.
Helen Davies, The Sunday Times Home editor said: “Our advice is simple. Think about everything you love and everything you hate, then make sure you have access to the good things while minimising exposure to the bad ones. And we’re here to help. Today we champion 101 locations across the UK and crown one lucky winner.
Never has where you live felt more important. This year we have, along with house prices, air quality, good schools and access to green spaces, championed locations that have showcased great community spirit.
The feeling of involvement in and concern for one’s local community is being challenged — and celebrated — as never before. We wish everyone well wherever they live.”
For longer entries, more on air quality, broadband, transport links, comprehensive listings of good schools and lifelong learning opportunities, local voices and property prices you can go online at thesundaytimes.co.uk/bestplacestolive.