Alnmouth shopkeeper worries that 'best places' accolade will attract 'wealthy but brainless' property investors
Alnmouth residents have backed the findings of a national newspaper feature which ranks the village as one of the best places to live in the region.
The coastal village is among 10 locations in the north and North East of England featured in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.
However, such publicity can be something of a double edged sword and currently some 46% of properties in the village are second home and holiday homes.
Properties sell for an average £310,000 while average rentals are £650 per month.
Nick Mattlock, who runs Puffin Stores and Post Office, explains: “The operative word in this survey is ‘great place to LIVE’.
“The trouble with these Sunday Times articles is they encourage the wealthy but brainless to buy up property in the village that only gets occupied on high days and holidays.
"To remain a great place to LIVE, Alnmouth needs more properties occupied by families and people committed to contributing to the community, not properties that stand empty for all but three weeks of the year.”
On Alnmouth, judges noted: “It has magnificent beaches, a well stocked high street and a haunted hotel, but it’s the direct trains to London and Edinburgh that make this the best base on the beautiful Northumberland coast.”
Shaun Whyte, parish council chairman, said he wasn’t surprised by the accolade.
He said: "Alnmouth certainly punches above its weight. It is small but perfectly formed. Undeniably modest in size, but an attractive village surrounded by beautiful countryside, beaches and walks.
"Yet in the practical sense, it offers great communications, a wide range of good quality shops, eateries and an excellent Post Office.
"Tourism has helped the village retain these varied facilities and yet Alnmouth has established, and is keen to maintain, a balance between visitors and residents interests to ensure the vibrant community spirit lives on and ensure that people will still want to live here for many years to come.”
Maureen Bickerdike, a trustee at the Hindmarsh Hall, added: “My husband and I moved to Alnmouth three years ago attracted by the fabulous beach. amenities and transport links but what has been the icing on the cake has been the warmth and friendliness of residents both in and around Alnmouth and the strong feeling of community. In my mind there is no better place to live.”
Elaine Stead, from Alnwood, commented:” There has been no better place to be locked down - we can walk from the front door, on the beach, along the river; Puffin Stores and Scott‘s provide all our needs and nowhere in the country has such friendly neighbours. Heaven on earth.”
An Alnmouth WI spokeswoman added: “Alnmouth WI epitomises our community and combined with the beautiful beach, the River Aln and scenery around us really deliver the both worlds and contribute to a special quality of life for us.
“The Alnmouth WI is a great source of fun, friendship and fellowship, and whilst respecting some long standing WI traditions, we are very good at starting new ones. The WI ladies have been a tremendous source of support to each other and others within our community, through outdoor get-togethers, walks on the gorgeous beach and around the village, (within the rule of six or 30 whenever allowed), regular newsletters and a WhatsApp group which has been an outstanding tool to help us keep in touch on a daily “
Judges were also impressed by surrounding villages, notably Warkworth and Rennington.
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor said: “Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.”
Ilkley in West Yorkshire topped the regional list. Others listed are: Barnard Castle, County Durham; Easingwold, North Yorkshire; Leeds; Masham, North Yorkshire; Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire; Todmorden, West Yorkshire; Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear; York.
Stroud in Gloucestershire was named as the best place to live in Britain.