Why did this Derbyshire market town see house prices rocket in 2017?

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Home owners in Ashbourne have another reason to raise a glass on New Year's Day after experts revealed property prices in the town have risen quicker than almost anywhere else in the country.

According to property website Zoopla , average house prices in Ashbourne have risen by 11.59% during 2017 - second only to the Somerset seaside resort of Clevedon where prices rose by an average of 11.6%.

The figures would put Ashbourne ahead of the third-placed town, the Cotswold tourist haven of Tewkesbuy, which rose by 11.38% since the start of the year.

Ashbourne's town centre summer bunting

Ashbourne's town centre summer bunting

Ashbourne also sports the highest house values of the top three hotspots, with the average house price in Ashbourne now at £354,815 - while Clevedon's properties average £334,245 and Tewkewsbury's averaged a sale price of £299,543.

Scargill Mann & Co, an estate agency which has been in business in Ashbourne since 1995, has seen plenty of demand in the town during 2017 but director Dean Mann says its recent influx of new houses will have boosted Zoopla's figures this year.

He said: "Ashbourne has plenty to offer. It's the gateway to the national park, there's a wide-range of facilities, a good range of schools which are well-respected and it's always seen to be a safe and secure place to live.

"The facilities here in the last 10 years have improved no end. All of a sudden the town is introducing a cosmopolitan range of facilities in its shops and cafés.

"So it's moving it away from being a quiet little market town, to being a bustling market town with cosmopolitan facilities. It's kept the town alive.

"The number of new houses that are being built will have skewed the figures slightly, but that will have also pushed prices up across the board.

"With the new houses it will only get better and people sitting in their houses can feel comfortable that they've got a good investment."

The nearby Derbyshire town of Belper also appeared in Zoopla's top 10 list, with house prices rising by 10.04 per cent in 2017, worth an average of £252,080.

This might come as little surprise to its residents, as halfway through the year the same property experts found it to be at the top of the price-increase table, with its values rising by 7.43% from January to June.

But while Ashbourne has leapt past one Belper, it's leaving another one in the dust, as Burton-on-Trent has fared badly in the study.

According to Zoopla, people living in the "brewing capital of the world" saw their house values drop by 2.85%. The average house in Burton is apparently worth £206,843.

But Zoopla says news across the country is generally good, despite what should be tough conditions for the property market.

The website's spokesman Lawrence Hall said: "2017 has been an unpredictable and varied year for the British property market, with continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the triggering of Article 50 in March and a hard-fought general election in June.

"However, the value of housing has proved its resilience in the face of political ambiguity, finishing the year with a solid 3.5% rise - though down year-on-year from the 7.25% growth rate seen in 2016."

But what about those who still haven't managed to get on the property ladder? Mr Hall points out that times are tough for first-time buyers.

He said: "Though good news for homeowners, this continued growth does pose ongoing affordability challenges to those trying to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

"Recent stamp duty reforms may go some way to help, but there's more to be done in 2018 to improve the picture for first-time buyers."

St Oswald's Church spire

St Oswald's Church in Ashbourne

The top 10 towns for property price growth, according to Zoopla, with the average property value and the increase since January

1. Clevedon, North Somerset, £334,245, 11.6%

2. Ashbourne, Derbyshire, £354,815, 11.59%

3. Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, £299,543, 11.38%

4. Whitstable, Kent, £386,051, 11.17%

5. Ilkley, West Yorkshire, £404,994, 11.09%

6. Kingston-upon-Thames, London, £742,775, 10.95%

7. Market Drayton, Shropshire, £257,270, 10.2%

8. Belper, Derbyshire, £252,080, 10.04%

9. Sudbury, Suffolk, £327,835, 9.83%

10. Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, £390,384, 9.79%

The bottom 10 towns for property price growth, according to Zoopla, with the average property value and the increase since January:

1. Leigh, Greater Manchester, £124,134, minus 4.61%

2. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, £630,468, minus 3.32%

3. Houghton Le Spring, County Durham, £139,714, minus 3.21%

4. Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, £113,975, minus 3.19%

5. Daventry, Northamptonshire, £258,016, minus 3.11%

6. South Shields, Tyne and Wear, £133,730, minus 2.97%

7. Brentford, London, £512,814, minus 2.93%

8. Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, £206,843, minus 2.85%

9. Camborne, Cornwall, £184,141, minus 2.69%

10. Morpeth, Northumberland, £233,130, minus 2.56%