Saffron Walden named on Sunday Times list of Best Places to Live in the UK 2019

Saffron Walden has been named on the Sunday Times list of Best Places to Live in the UK 2019.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

“It is fantastic to see our vibrant and beautiful town in the UK’s Top Best Places to Live again for another year” said Cllr Paul Gadd, R4U leader at Saffron Walden Town Council. “The Sunday Times review praised our architecture, market, artisan shops and independent businesses, and cultural and community facilities. The reviewer even said in the last few years the town has ‘dusted off its threadbare Barbour gilet and become almost trendy!’”

Cllr Gadd added “This type of recognition is never the result of just one organisation but many, including businesses, volunteers and residents, all playing their part. At the Town Council our team has worked hard over the last 4 years with their part. We have refurbished the town hall, community centre and public gardens. We’ve also delivered a string of new things including drinking water fountains, and on the Common, new paths, playground and trees.”

R4U’s Paul Gadd concluded “As a word of caution the reviewer did recognise the perennial problems the town faces as a result of poor long range planning by the Planning Authority. They specifically mentioned queuing cars, the illegal levels of pollution, and scarce school places. We need to continue hold those responsible to account to make sure our town remains a beautiful place for future generations to love where they live too.”

Read the Sunday Times review below.

Saffron Walden, Essex – Best Places to Live in the UK 2019

Colour me beautiful: this is a perennial Best Places to Live Pick, thanks to its old-fashioned virtues and commuter-friendly countryside location

Reprinted from The Sunday Times, April 14 2019 © The Sunday Times

A veritable Best Places to Live fixture, Saffron Walden defies (and redefines) Essex stereotypes. There’s an artisan chocolatier; the twice-weekly market flogs langoustines (Jamie Oliver has been spotted browsing the stalls); and the newsagent-cum-dry-cleaner at Audley End station stocks £380 bottles of wine. In the past few years, this well-heeled market town, surrounded by rolling countryside, has dusted off its threadbare Barbour gilet and become almost, well, trendy. It has an excellent community cinema, Saffron Screen, jazz evenings on the market square, a bike shop that sells locally roasted coffee and Fanny & Frank, a boutique that promises shoppers will leave looking “Fannytastic”. And Saffron Walden still covers the basics – a brace of butchers, a treasure trove of antiques shops, an independent bookstore and the Modem Greengrocer, which delivers and offers recipe ideas.


That said, aside from Saffron Walden Round Table, a social club for men aged 18-45, there’s not a lot for the yoof to do – unless they want to hang out in one of the three art galleries or catch a classical concert at Saffron Hall. Nightlife means a trip to Cambridge.


Get connected

Many of the recent incomers commute from Audley End to London Liverpool Street (from 51 minutes) or work in the Cambridge Science and Business parks. Its 24 minutes by train to Cambridge North, and not much longer if you drive.



Superfast is available in nine out of 10 homes; 50% of households can get ultrafast cable.


Insider view

“Saffron Walden offers the perfect balance between countryside and town, with plenty of open spaces,” says Greg Smith, co-founder of the chocolatier Hill St. “The place has a relaxed atmosphere and is full of life, especially on a Saturday, with the bustling market.”



The Saffron Academy Trust runs several local state schools, including Saffron Walden County High, which is rated outstanding by Ofsted and features in The Sunday Times Parent Power guide. Dame Bradbury’s School is a popular prep.


Air quality

Traffic, especially at rush hour, means statutory limits for nitrogen dioxide are breached at the busiest junctions.


Caveat emptor

School places are a political hot potato. The catchment area for Saffron Walden County High has been shrinking due to overwhelming demand.


Best address

In town, it has to be a three-bedroom medieval or Tudor cottage on Freshwell Street or Myddelton Place, which will set you back about £400,000. Budget £800,000 for a detached Victorian house with five bedrooms. Surrounding villages to consider include Clavering, Chrishall and Ashdon.


Why we love it

The other way is Saffron Walden.


Best Places to Live 2019