“CHARMING” Monmouth has today been named one of the four best places to live in the UK by a national newspaper.
Named toward the summit of the top 101 Best Places to Live in Britain list by the Sunday national – with Its dizzying final position set to be unveiled in part one of the Sunday Times’ 101 Best Places to Live in Britain supplement this Sunday – but it is the highest ranked of the eleven Welsh towns which made it.
Monmouthshire as a county had more than one reason to celebrate with “foodie heaven” Abergavenny the only other Gwent town to make the list.
Combining data and statistics such as crime rates, house prices and school performance to compile what it calls a “definitive” guide to home ownership, the list selects places for offering the “best quality of life to the widest number of people”.
The survey said of the town: “In a statement of wry wit, for which his profession is seldom renowned, an estate agent last week described Monmouth as ‘the acceptable face of Wales to the English’.
“He meant that the attractive market town, with the River Wye running through its centre, has a soft, Anglicised charm far removed from the more rugged beauty of Cymru proper.
“To further illustrate his point, there is a Waitrose. The town is attracting people who travel for their work; the nearby A40 and the M50 place a large part of the country within driving range.
“Its independent schools, which cater for children from ages three to eight, are not only noted for getting a good proportion of students into Russell Group universities, they also have some of the most reasonable fees in the country.
“The housing stock is varied with much in the £250,000 bracket, though you’ll have to pay upwards of £550,000 for a large pile.
“Why we love it: Wales lite has a charm of its own.”
Residents, traders and others welcomed the news.
Cllr Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire council cabinet member with responsibility for innovation, enterprise and leisure said: “The town itself boasts a hosts of attributes that rarely come together in one place. It has a wealth of great independent shops with many historic architectural gems and links to the past through Henry V and Charles Rolls for instance. Monmouth is a place where Welsh and English cultures meet.”
Property firm Hayes Sales and Lettings called it an “up and coming, vibrant market town specialising in period and character properties”.
Traders and friends Phil Munday, of Munday & Jones greengrocers, and Duncan Wills, of Le Gourmet butchers, said it boasts a “healthy independent trade”.
Mr Munday said: “I visited from West London 40 years ago and never left I loved it so much. The town is thriving.”
Mr Wills added: “We have retained that community feeling.”
David Cummings, chair of Monmouth Chamber of Commerce added: "It has an excellent road network and a superb school system, both public and private."
Sunday Times home editor Helen Davies said: “The Best Places guide is dedicated to celebrating Britain’s abundance of great cities, towns and villages. We combine in-depth data with first-hand personal experience to produce an authoritative list.”