BRISTOL PARKWAY The villages near here are perfect for commuters because the station is easy to reach and parking is plentiful. It also lies at the centre of a motorway network that can speed you north, south, east or west and link you with the major commercial centres of Wales as well as with Birmingham, Swindon and London. It is possible for a couple to live here and for one partner to work in Exeter and the other in London. It offers countryside, yet Bristol is on the doorstep. The station is on a spur that goes direct from Swindon, so you can be whisked to London in under an hour and a half.
Only six minutes from the station are the pricey villages of Almondsbury and Awkley. They are out of earshot of all the motorways, and an old stone house with four bedrooms might typically cost £425,000. Hortham Village, a new development of Barratt and Bryant homes on the eastern fringes of Almondsbury, offers a range of houses from three-bedroom terraces at around £210,000 to four-bedroom detached town houses at £420,000. Though the villages are out of the way, they are seen as useful locations because of the second Severn Crossing, linked to Junction 17 of the M5. Hambrook is also a village with instant appeal despite being within earshot of the M4 and M32. It has a couple of pubs, a hotel and Hambrook Common at its centre. Four-bedroom houses easily creep up into the £400,000 range.
Also within six minutes of the station is Stoke Gifford – almost an ex-village (with a serious rush-hour problem) now that it has attracted big companies such as Hewlett Packard, AXA Sun Life and the Ministry of Defence. The village-proper is packed with old cottages, with those in Mead Road tending to be more expensive than the rest. A three-bedroom cottage will sell at around £245,000. A four-bedroom modern detached house will fetch £250,000 to £350,000. The most sought-after roads are Touchstone Avenue and Fabian Drive, where a four-bedroom detached house costs around £249,000. A new pre-school and nursery has opened to cope with the commuter influx.
It is impossible to ignore the lake of housing at Bradley Stoke on Stoke Gifford’s doorstep, billed as the largest development in Western Europe. Builders took over a decade to construct about 11,000 houses, with primary schools, sports centres, pubs and supermarkets. A new shopping centre was added in 2008. Housing is pick-and-mix, with one-bedroom flats being sold for £110,000, three-bedroom houses at £160,000 to £240,000, and four bedrooms at £220,000 to £300,000.
Much care was taken at Bradley Stoke to avoid the monotony of earlier new development grafted on to Chipping Sodbury. The core remains a lovely old Cotswold town with a typically wide main street flanked with houses in Georgian brick and Cotswold stone. A farmers’ market takes place twice a month. A 17th-century three-bedroom cottage would cost around £330,000 to £500,000 for four bedrooms. The nearby villages of Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath blend one into the other, offering a mixture of old and new with a few working farms in the outlying areas. At the bottom of the market you could buy a three-bedroom ex-council house for £170,000. At the top end you could pay £450,000 or more for a four- to five-bedroom period cottage in half an acre. Residents at Frampton Cotterell are opposing a plan for 220 Barratt Homes on a Greenfield sit in the village. Iron Acton is also very pretty, with a village green where girls dance round the Maypole in the spring, and two pubs.
If you are looking for a house around here it is worth remembering that in the area between Bristol and Wotton-under-Edge prices are affected by people who commute into Bristol. As you proceed beyond Thornbury, prices start to drop. On a bad day from this part, the journey to Bristol Parkway station could take 15 minutes, which many might consider too much.