Martin's Heron & Bracknell
MARTIN’S HERON and BRACKNELL Nothing in Bracknell today suggests that in the early 19th century it might have been described as ‘a small thoroughfare hamlet adorned with many genteel residences and delightful villas’. In 1948 it was incorporated as Berkshire’s only New Town, planned for a London overspill of 25,000. It now has more than 52,000 inhabitants, all of whom must have chosen it for convenience rather than charm. The increase in commuter traffic was sufficient to require the building of a second station, Martin’s Heron. Property prices are relatively modest given that the journey to London takes less than an hour. One-bedroom flats can be found for £115,000 to £140,000; three-bedroom ex-council houses are resolutely stuck at £175,000 to come under the stamp duty threshold; modern semis on private developments cost between £170,000 and £240,000; four-bedroom detached houses with double garage and garden, £280,000 to £350,000. Unkind critics attach the ‘concrete jungle’ tag. Yet there is plenty of high-tech industry to keep a large proportion of the young population busy locally, with good sports facilities, every kind of club, a hands-on science exhibition in the Look Out Discovery Centre and a Coral Reef water complex with a pirate ship, water slides and erupting volcano.
Three miles west of Bracknell is Binfield, which has outgrown its status as a village to become a suburb of Bracknell. Historically it is notable chiefly for its connection with Alexander Pope, who lived here as a boy in the early 1700s. It is loosely knit with greens, has a few shops including an art shop, curry house, Chinese takeaway, fish-and-chip-shop, some small businesses, the John Nike Sports Complex (for dry ski-ing, ice-skating and tobogganing), as well as the redoubtable Binfield Badger Group.
Modern estate housing includes Temple Park, overlooking the golf course, and Foxley Field where prices start at £205,000 for a two-bedroom semi or end-of-terrace, £225,000 for a three-bedroom detached, £400,000-plus for a five-bedroom detached. A community spirit still survives and young mothers, as well as the established older residents, are involved in the two community centres, drama club, Scout, Brownie and Guide groups, and line dancing. The local primary school has a good reputation, with secondary age children moving on to Bracknell and Wokingham.