AYLESBURY Commercial development has overshadowed a good deal of Aylesbury’s ancient past. Its heart was cut out in the Sixties to make way for office blocks, and large council estates were built on the north side to accommodate London overspill. As if that was not enough, 17,000 new dwellings are due to be built by 2026, increasing the population from 60,000 to 100,000. The payback is that lots of money and energy are being poured into the town, revitalising the shops, creating a new civic centre and theatre, and improving public transport. A new station, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, has opened on the north side of the town to serve a 4,000-home development and the villages nearby. It links into Marylebone via Amersham and Harrow. Commuters prefer to live in the surrounding villages and farmhouses are the popular choice. For those who want something more modern, a three-bedroom semi goes for £149,000, a two-bedroom terraced house for £130,000, a one-bedroom modern apartment for £125,000. Aylesbury Grammar School for boys and High School for girls, and Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School have excellent reputations; and there is an unusually good selection of hospitals in the area. There is a big shopping mall, six-screen cinema, a regular farmers’ market, a swimming pool, and the county museum with a special Roald Dahl exhibition.
Most of the surrounding villages have had their share of new developments but Bishopstone is still rural in nature despite the busy roads. A spacious, five-bedroom detached house costs £525,000. Dinton is blissfully peaceful and still has buildings made of witchert, proper grass verges and no street lamps at night. The future of Dinton Hall, where Cromwell’s sword was once kept, has been a local hot potato for years – at one time it was to become a hotel with two golf courses – but it is now safely in private hands again.
To the north-west of Aylesbury, Quainton has all the ingredients of the chocolate-box rural idyll – pretty thatched cottages, a broad village green and a ruined medieval market cross, a restored windmill and a group of 17th-century almshouses with dormers and Dutch gables. Discriminating buyers will pay a premium to live here (it is in the catchment of Aylesbury Grammar). Prices range from £190,000 for a two-bedroom cottage to £450,000 upwards for a modern four-bedroom detached. It is a horsey area.