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Neighbourhood Watch: Bracknell

Setting the scene

Designated a new town in 1949, Bracknell is a price-friendly alternative to Maidenhead and Henley, but was let down by an ugly shopping centre. Now, following one of the UK’s largest town centre regeneration projects, costing £240million, it ticks even more boxes for buyers. Commuting’s easy as it sits between the M3 and M4 and has frequent trains into London, and a choice of high-performing schools.

Snooping around

Bracknell expanded rapidly in the second half of the 20th century and the majority of housing stems from this era — few traces of the original village remain. Homes are typically on privately-built or ex-local authority estates, but what they lack in looks, they make up for in value. Various new developments are being built; for period cottages and country houses, head to Binfield and Warfield, to the north. ‘There’s a real mix of buyers, including young couples and families often using Help to Buy,’ says Tim Cole of Richard Worth. ‘One-bed flats start at around £185,000 and three-bed houses from £300,000.’

What’s new

Blu sky thinking: Blu Bracknell

Blu Bracknell has 121 studio, one and two-bed flats in a former office building near the town centre, with a table tennis hub and outdoor gym in landscaped gardens. Prices are from £218,500, via savills.co.uk. Also central, Sterling Square offers one and two-bed flats, each with an open-plan living area, balcony or terrace and allocated parking, from £219,995, bellway.co.uk. Millennium Fields is a collection of 150 one and two-bed flats and three and four-bed houses near the train station. They range from £245,000 to £549,950, cala.co.uk.

Jennett’s Park, a new suburb on the west side of town, has two new schemes. Osborne Gate’s three-bed semi-detached houses feature combined kitchen/diners and separate living rooms, from £399,950, redrow.co.uk. Eton Place has one and two-bed flats with spacious open-plan kitchen/living/dining rooms, from £204,950, persimmonhomes.co.uk.

Square deal: Bracknell’s Sterling Square apartments feature open-plan living

All buyers are catered for at Berkeley Homes’ Woodhurst Park in Warfield, where one, two and three-bed flats and three and four-bed houses in a country park setting start at £265,000, woodhurstpark.co.uk. Moving to Binfield, Popeswood Grange consists of two to five-bed homes, from £339,995, ashberryhomes.co.uk. Nearby Popeswood Manor is a converted manor house, from £385,000 for a two-bed, with three new-build cottages from £599,950, through richard-worth.co.uk.

Vital statistics

Council tax: (Band D) £1,596.24

Commuting time: About an hour direct to Waterloo or to Paddington, changing at Reading

Annual Season ticket cost: £4,724

Amenities: ★★★★☆ The Lexicon has 100+ stores and restaurants plus a 12-screen Cineworld cinema. Stores and an Odeon cinema in the Peel Centre; South Hill Park Arts Centre; Bracknell leisure centre; Coral Reef Waterworld

Open space: ★★★☆☆ Lily Hill Park; South Hill Park; Mill Park; bike trails, Go Ape and Look Out Discovery Centre in Swinley Forest

Schools: ★★★☆☆ Results about average; many primaries judged as good by Ofsted

Crime: ★★★★☆ Well below average

Who lives there? Young professionals and families who commute into London or work locally in IT

Famous faces: Tracy Beaker actress and former Strictly… contestant Dani Harmer (pictured) was born here

Rent report: ‘All the redevelopment has meant that we have seen a shift in tenant demographics, with professional and lifestyle renters — who rent because they want to and it fits their lifestyle — now dominating. Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is £1,046pcm,’ says Michael Gallagher of Prospect.

Property ladder

First rung

£215,000, Prospect, prospect.co.uk

Two double bedrooms and two bathrooms — one en suite — make this ground-floor flat ideal for sharers. It’s right in the town centre and has secure underground parking and a communal garden.

Average for Bracknell

£350,000 Richard Worth, richard-worth.co.uk

A two-bed period cottage (pictured above) in Binfield, on the edge of Bracknell and not far from Wokingham. The reception rooms have been knocked through into one big living area with an open fireplace and there’s a loft room and an enclosed garden, more than 100ft in length, with patio and lawn. The average property price for Bracknell is £369,124, according to Zoopla.co.uk, which bases its figures on the average price paid over the past 12 months.

Luxury home

£2.85million Strutt & Parker, struttandparker.com and Savills, savills.co.uk

This five-bed, five-bath house sits in two acres and includes a galleried hall, triple-aspect sitting room, a detached annex, an all-weather tennis court and a heated outdoor pool.