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Which areas have seen biggest house price rises during pandemic?

Voice Of EU



The areas of Britain that have seen the biggest house price rises during the pandemic have been revealed exclusively to MailOnline Property

Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and Banbury in Oxfordshire top the list compiled by Halifax and have seen prices rocket by £100,000 – or more than a third.

The analysis, based on places with house sales of at least 100, covers the period from the beginning of March last year to the end of February 2021. 

Also in the top 10 are Chorley in Lancashire, Leamington Spa in Warwickshire and Salisbury in Wiltshire, indicating that big rises have been seen across the country. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the story to see the full list of 100 areas where prices are up 12 per cent or more

We reveal where house prices have risen the most since the first lockdown in March last year

We reveal where house prices have risen the most since the first lockdown in March last year

This three-bed house in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is for sale for u00A3281,250 via estate agents WIlliam H Brown

This three-bed house in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is for sale for £281,250 via estate agents WIlliam H Brown

House prices have risen the most in Bury St Edmunds, increasing 37 per cent on average from £267,217 to £367,421 during the past year.

The pretty cathedral town in Suffolk is known for its Abbey Gardens and boasts hundreds of hanging baskets and pots in bloom during the spring and summer.

It is followed closely by Banbury, which has seen average house prices rise 36 per cent, from £283,830 to £385,556.

In third position is King’s Lynn, where average values are up 28 per cent in a year, from £232,586 to £298,399. 

None of the top 10 locations are in London. However, parts of the capital do feature in the longer list of the 100 locations with the highest house prices rises during the past year.

They are at the bottom, with the north London borough of Haringey ranked in position 98 and the north west London borough of Brent ranked in position 100.

This three-bed terrace house in Banbury,u00A0Oxfordshire, is for sale for u00A3275,000 via estate agents Connells

This three-bed terrace house in Banbury, Oxfordshire, is for sale for £275,000 via estate agents Connells

It comes as Britain approaches the anniversary of the first lockdown on 23 March, a period that has seen a sledgehammer taken to the jobs market.

Many industries suffered a bigger fall in vacancies during 2020 than in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

And yet unlike the 2008 crisis and the economic downturn at that time, during the past year the average price of a house has risen.

The typical value of a home in Britain is up 12 per cent, from £285,428 to £320,457, during the past year, according to Halifax.

This four-bed house in King's Lynn, Norfolk, is for sale for u00A3280,000 via estate agents William H Brown

This four-bed house in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, is for sale for £280,000 via estate agents William H Brown

(Average £)
(Average £)
Mar 20 – Feb 2021 Change %
South West 280,588 327,061 17%
East Anglia 276,291 317,844 15%
North West 206,362 236,197 14%
East Midlands 224,122 256,103 14%
West Midlands 231,291 263,661 14%
Yorkshire and Humberside 196,241 221,833 13%
South East 380,469 428,601 13%
Wales 191,309 214,150 12%
North 174,322 191,893 10%
Northern Ireland 167,843 180,483 8%
Greater London 538,909 567,788 5%
Scotland 190,250 194,086 2%
UK 285,428 320,457 12%
Source: Halifax       

Halifax also revealed the average house price increases in each region, with the South West ranked top with a 17 per cent rise from March last year to February this year.

It reflects the desire for more outdoor and indoor space during the past year as the restrictions of successive lockdowns have taken their toll.

Andrew Asaam, of Halifax, said: ‘Like a lot of things about last year, it would have been difficult to predict the places where we’d see the biggest house price growth, especially while everything shut down in the first lockdown.

‘Towns like Bury St Edmonds, Kings Lynn in Norfolk and Banbury in Oxfordshire have seen the biggest jump in house prices over the past year, while further north, Chorley and Huddersfield have also seen significant increases.

‘More time spent at home over the past 12 months has also helped fuel a desire for properties with more space and broadened the scope for how people think about certain locations, as work-life balance has shifted for buyers and sellers during 2020.

‘We saw a surge in the market over the second half of last year following the effective shutdown of the first lockdown, as well as people racing to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.’


The amount at which stamp duty is paid was temporarily increased by the Government last summer, to £500,000 for property sales in England and Northern Ireland.

The tax break was due to end on March 31, but  the Chancellor announced in the Budget that it will now end on June 30.

After this date, the starting rate of stamp duty will be £250,000 until the end of September. Stamp duty will then return to the usual level of £125,000. 

This four-bed semi-detached house in Buckshaw Village, Chorley, is for sale for 190,000 via Strike estate agents

This four-bed semi-detached house in Buckshaw Village, Chorley, is for sale for 190,000 via Strike estate agents

(Average £)
(Average £)
Mar 20 – Feb 21 Change %
BURY ST EDMUNDS 267,217 367,421 37%
BANBURY 283,830 385,556 36%
KING’S LYNN 232,586 298,399 28%
CHORLEY 188,206 240,906 28%
LEAMINGTON SPA 316,029 402,245 27%
HEREFORD 237,786 300,059 26%
MACCLESFIELD 298,791 371,531 24%
SALISBURY 313,248 388,238 24%
HUDDERSFIELD 187,221 231,920 24%
CHELTENHAM 322,648 396,885 23%
NEWTON ABBOT 251,329 309,040 23%
AYR 154,515 189,879 23%
STOURBRIDGE 259,458 316,675 22%
BURTON ON TRENT 210,966 257,397 22%
GREAT YARMOUTH 191,488 232,531 21%
CHESTERFIELD 184,580 223,300 21%
SOUTHEND ON SEA 280,556 336,760 20%
HOVE 409,519 491,304 20%
SOUTH SHIELDS 146,932 175,672 20%
GRANTHAM 228,843 273,594 20%
TAUNTON 249,151 297,599 19%
WALSALL 189,032 225,756 19%
TELFORD 197,203 234,914 19%
GLOUCESTER 241,136 286,881 19%
POOLE 309,241 367,758 19%
FAREHAM 296,283 351,651 19%
WOKING 497,775 590,624 19%
SCUNTHORPE 142,878 169,153 18%
DARLINGTON 169,348 200,313 18%
WIRRAL 228,040 269,725 18%
NEWARK 209,881 247,751 18%
ALTRINCHAM 402,181 474,335 18%
Islington (LA) 665,051 783963.4279 18%
DONCASTER 161,452 190,288 18%
WESTON SUPER MARE 226,748 267,050 18%
STOKE ON TRENT 165,137 194,299 18%
GILLINGHAM (KENT) 259,084 304,767 18%
SWADLINCOTE 197,532 231,113 17%
DUNSTABLE 280,929 328,440 17%
MAIDSTONE 295,426 345,313 17%
EASTBOURNE 261,108 305,112 17%
BEDFORD 331,172 386,688 17%
ASHFORD (KENT) 314,571 366,812 17%
WIDNES 173,004 201,627 17%
BRIDGWATER 224,932 261,930 16%
WORTHING 328,787 382,803 16%
STOCKPORT 271,530 315,503 16%
MANCHESTER 204,975 237,517 16%
NUNEATON 210,761 243,744 16%
BLACKBURN 143,342 165,486 15%
BOLTON 168,616 194,521 15%
CANTERBURY 317,908 366,586 15%
KETTERING 240,438 276,836 15%
COLCHESTER 304,015 349,752 15%
BIRMINGHAM 207,402 238,489 15%
LEICESTER 238,149 273,368 15%
NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME 174,906 200,656 15%
WREXHAM 187,277 214,751 15%
GRAVESEND 311,216 356,466 15%
NEWTOWNABBEY 142,518 163,201 15%
WARRINGTON 222,755 254,718 14%
WATERLOOVILLE 319,090 364,485 14%
BURNLEY 143,786 164,096 14%
HIGH WYCOMBE 409,285 466,959 14%
WOKINGHAM 470,415 536,095 14%
LINCOLN 219,282 249,790 14%
BRIGHTON 387,281 441,104 14%
TUNBRIDGE WELLS 462,906 527,137 14%
SLOUGH 411,830 468,856 14%
ST ALBANS 546,492 621,867 14%
COVENTRY 217,500 247,120 14%
SOLIHULL 382,713 434,735 14%
WOLVERHAMPTON 202,131 229,589 14%
ELY 294,030 333,893 14%
LEEDS 226,939 257,637 14%
DERBY 209,554 237,787 13%
WAKEFIELD 200,920 227,944 13%
HARLOW 298,891 339,055 13%
GATESHEAD 152,713 173,197 13%
SITTINGBOURNE 264,607 299,592 13%
MILTON KEYNES 326,609 369,656 13%
CHIPPENHAM 314,157 355,398 13%
OLDHAM 178,157 201,530 13%
ILFORD 441,239 498,570 13%
NEWPORT (GWENT) 180,849 204,217 13%
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE 201,582 227,502 13%
EASTLEIGH 316,345 357,008 13%
PLYMOUTH 202,024 227,798 13%
NOTTINGHAM 213,856 241,030 13%
KEIGHLEY 183,542 206,568 13%
HARROGATE 325,272 365,914 12%
CRAWLEY 331,869 373,077 12%
ORPINGTON 483,028 542,656 12%
WORKSOP 154,126 173,053 12%
NORWICH 268,778 301,745 12%
Haringey (LA) 564,932 633,077 12%
SWANSEA 176,330 197,520 12%
Brent (LA) 548,088 613,783 12%
Source: Halifax                         

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Courts Service contradicts Garda declaration journalists were barred from court

Voice Of EU



The Courts Service has openly contradicted An Garda Síochána’s declaration that journalists were barred from a court sitting in Waterford earlier this month on the orders of a district justice.

Former Fianna Fáil election candidate Kieran Hartley appeared before Judge Brian O’Shea at Dungarvan District Court on October 13th on a Section 6 public order charge for allegedly committing an offence against a family member of a local garda.

Journalists Eoghan Dalton and Christy Parker were barred for more than three hours from entering the court chamber by two gardaí, who said they had been told the judge had directed that no press be allowed in.

The decision to bar the press – the second time that this has happened to a court hearing where Judge O’Shea was sitting following an incident at a Dublin hearing in 2017 – has now been raised with Garda management.

During exchanges with the reporters, who questioned the decision, one garda said “no one is allowed in this morning”, and while they “honestly” did not “know any details of it” they had been “directed by the court to not allow anyone into it”.

The Garda Press Office later that day insisted “the presiding judge had directed that the court be cleared of persons not involved in the case” as a “voir dire” was in operation.

A voir dire normally occurs when a judge seeks to determine an issue in the course of a trial rather than in advance of one, and very rarely applies at District Court level. Journalists may witness proceedings but not report the details.


Questioned later, however, the press office said: “The court garda cleared the court as requested by the judge”, and that “it is understood that members of the media who so arrived after that point were inadvertently prevented from accessing the courtroom”.

The Courts Service on Friday said: “At no stage did Judge O’Shea or Courts Service officials issue a direction that the case should be held otherwise than in public”.

“The court sitting at Dungarvan District Court on Wednesday, October 13th, was a public hearing. It involved the hearing of certain arguments in a case, before the ‘substantive’ matter might be heard at another time,” the spokesman said.

“In the absence of an order the law requires that the proceedings take place in public: we are committed to that principle. The alleged actions of gardaí in not allowing access to some media is a matter for Garda management.

“These issues have been raised with Garda management,” said the Courts Service, which is understood to have checked its own records carefully ahead of making its public statement.

When the case came to court on September 22nd, solicitor Paddy Gordon, acting for defence solicitor Frank Buttimer, questioned the legitimacy of statements presented by An Garda Síochána. Mr Gordon claimed they were “not our statements and we want them examined forensically”.

Deferring the matter to the October 13th sitting of Dungarvan District Court, Judge O’Shea instructed that investigating Garda Tom Daly be present, along with his notebook and all original statements.

The judge also asked that Tramore District Superintendent Paul O’Driscoll attend the hearing, which would commence at 10am prior to the main court business.


Mr Hartley unsuccessfully contested the 2014 European elections as Fianna Fáil’s Ireland South candidate. He resigned from the party acrimoniously in 2018 following his criticism of its handling of matters related to convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally, whose cousin Brendan was a former Fianna Fáil junior minister.

Judge O’Shea did not issue a written verdict on the present case against Mr Hartley, but it is understood the Garda testaments will stand as presented when it is heard.

Mr Buttimer said he was “not in a position to comment at present”.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Martin Kenny said it was “highly unusual” and that he would be writing to Garda headquarters seeking an explanation. “Justice has to be seen to be done as well as being done, and I find it quite alarming that we’d be in this situation.”

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Darlington is cheapest for homes, London’s Kensington most expensive

Voice Of EU



We all know about the North-South divide. We all know about the Prime Minister’s attempt at ‘levelling up’. We all know about the crumbling Red Wall.

But when it comes to property, the facts of the matter tell their own story. According to Churchill Home Insurance, Darlington in County Durham is the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot.

Which is staggering when you compare it to the most expensive — Kensington in central London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721. 

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham - the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham – the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Music giants Robbie Williams and Eric Clapton have homes in this exclusive royal borough home, as do entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.

But here’s the twist: anyone looking to take advantage of Darlington’s prices might have to move fast because there are plans to turn this market town into the hottest property in the north.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is opening up a smart new division of the Treasury there over the next five years, moving about a quarter of the department. 

That’s about 400 people, many of whom will be local recruits. ‘We’re giving talented people in the North-East the opportunity to work in the heart of Government, making decisions on important issues for our country,’ explains Sunak.

So what are the draws of these polar-opposite locations?

Kensington is one of the crown jewels of London neighbourhoods featuring not just top museums but also a host of chic cafes, boutique shops, and even Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their children.

There are three Zone 1 underground stations and several independent schools, and you’re a stroll away from the West End. 

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Top restaurants include Daphne’s and Launceston Place — both favourites of the late Princess Diana — and the iconic Bibendum with two Michelin stars.

There’s no surprises when it comes to property values in this area; they’re stellar. The cheapest property in Kensington for sale on Rightmove in the middle of October was priced at £40,000 and that was just a space in a car park. 

The most expensive listing, by contrast, was a seven- bedroom semi, with an eye-watering asking price of £30 million.

Of just over 510 property sales in the past year, the average price was a slightly more modest £2,169,235, according to Zoopla, but that’s after prices took a 4 per cent knock as fewer people bought in London during the pandemic.

It’s a different story in Darlington, which has a modest average property price of £172,724, according to Zoopla. 

But things are changing; there have been more than 1,600 property sales in the past 12 months and prices have gently risen 4.5 per cent. The most expensive home on sale is a four-bedroom detached house with grounds, for £700,000.

However that’s still an exception, with many more at the other end of the scale, where there are several two-bedroom terrace houses for sale at £45,000.

If you’re moving in, bone up on railway history — the world’s first steam train service began here almost 200 years ago. 

Otherwise, look out for a twice-weekly street market, the revamped Hippodrome theatre and the odd tribute to comic Vic Reeves and businessman Duncan Bannatyne, both brought up in the town.

Darlington is brimming with well-preserved Victorian buildings while you can stroll in the beautiful South Park. If you’re after the best of local food, the two-Michelin starred Raby Hunt Restaurant is the place to go.

The town has the buzz of a place on the move — there are modernisations under way at both the railway station (2 ½ hours to London, 30 minutes to Newcastle) and the indoor market.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s Treasury initiative is already putting Darlington on the map. ‘I know of several people from London who have moved here thanks to working remotely,’ says estate agent Henry Carver of Carver Residential. 

On the market: North-South divide 

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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

Voice Of EU



Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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