PUBLISHED: 12:07 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013
It isn't a town and it isn't a village, but a rather special combination of both. Danusia Hutson discovers what makes Gerrards Cross one of most desirable postcodes in the UK...
IMAGES: Tony Hyde
In a rural setting, yet just half an hour from London by rail, Gerrards Cross is still in demand for the same reasons as a century ago, when the new railway and property developers began to promote what was already known as 'The Brighton of Bucks.' Wealthy Londoners were offered a healthy lifestyle, close proximity to London, stylish architecture and leafy roads. Today, 'GX' ticks even more boxes and has become one of the top three wealthiest spots in the country.
The fantastic Common is still at the heart of the community, with idyllic cottages and elegant homes scattered around it, and the location offers woodlands, ponds and plenty of recreational space. The schools have excellent reputations, both private and state sector, there are plenty of stylish shops and restaurants and, even a cinema, tucked away discreetly.
Discretion is the key word in new developments too, says estate agent Trevor Kent, whose ancestors came to the area five generations ago. "It is still a quiet, relaxed village that hasn't suffered from over-development. Builders are catering for the needs of downsizers with tasteful luxury apartment and town houses such as those about to be built at The French Horn pub site," he says.
"Properties here are an excellent investment and will continue to go up," says Geoff Collins, a director at The Frost Partnership, one of the first agencies to set up shop here in 1906, "We are fortunate that we are in a Green Belt area, which means that we are seeing the most innovative and attractive redevelopment of the older properties, enabling residents to downsize yet at the same time we attract and welcome new families."
"The downside though is that the children of the families here can't afford to buy their first home in Gerrards Cross," says Simon Newby of Roberts Newby, who was born and grew up in the village and has been specialising in local property for almost two decades. "Overall buyer numbers have fallen," says Andrew Riley, branch manager at Hamptons International, "but buyers who are renting or have cash in the bank are eager to buy the right product if the price is right."
The properties are often elegant Arts and Crafts style and buyers through Roberts Newby are presented with an edition of a History of Gerrards Cross, in which they can trace the history of a house. It was co-sponsored by Frosts and Hamptons as part of the town's centenary exhibition in 2006 and a tribute to the architects, builders and estate agents who started it all. No doubt they'd be very pleased to learn that their work is still highly-prized.
Out & About
Ups: Community environment, low crime.
Downs: Property prices are high. To some locals, the planned Tesco is a 'down'.
Best areas/prices: North Park, Oval Way, Camp Road, from £1m-£4.m; for proximity to station, Bulstrode Way, Marsham Way, Vicarage Way, £700,000-£2.5m; Dukes Wood/Fulmer Road, £750,000-£2m. New luxury apartments, from £500,000.
Commuting: Fast rail to Marylebone and Birmingham. Easy access to Slough, Uxbridge, Heathrow. A40, M40, M25 all close by.
Shops: M&S, Fishers family-run supermarket, Jungs Patisserie, plenty of individual retailers, including an Italian furniture store and specialist HiFi shop, plus a proposed Waitrose and a Tesco currently being built.
Schools: For girls - St Mary's, Maltmans Green; for boys - Gayhurst, Kingscote, Thorpe House. Also Church of England Primary, Moorland Drive.
Eat and drink: The newly refurbished Bull Hotel, The Ethorpe Hotel, Santucci, Costa, Café Rouge, and plenty of other eateries including Indian and Chinese. The Packhorse is to be converted into a smart chain restaurant.
Things to do: Two-screen cinema; Memorial Centre for educational and recreational activities including clubs, societies, sports, sailing, guides, dancing and bridge; Gerrards Cross Golf Club.
Did you know? Judge George Jefferys, who lived here in the late 17th century, was famous for his favourite sentence of hanging, disembowelment and quartering.