When it comes to leaving the capital, few cities have the same pull for departing Londoners than good old Cambridge. With its ancient city centre and Islington-esque café culture, Cambridge seems perfectly designed to help exiles manage the transition. So where are the best places to put down roots? Here’s our pick of the bunch:
A short journey north east of the city centre, Chesterton – a previously anonymous suburb now developing its own village-like identity – is quickly cementing a reputation as the perfect spot for aspirational first-time buyers. With trendy riverside flats, fashionable gastropubs and vegan-friendly brunch spots, you can see why it’s regarded as a real catch for young families. As you’d expect, the area enjoys near-impeccable connections to the city centre, with regular bus services and bustling cycle routes. What’s more, Chesterton is within touching distance of the new Cambridge North train station, which offers direct services to London Kings Cross.
Parkside, which borders the famous Parker’s Piece common, has long boasted some of the most desirable properties in Cambridge. And when it comes to location, Parkside is a good as it gets, being a five minute stroll – tops – from the centre. That inevitably means higher prices, but, if you’re got the money to spend, this is likely the best place to do it. Being an established part of the old city, new developments are slightly thin on the ground here. Parkside Place, a large residential development fashioned from the old Cambridge Fire Station, is a notable exception. As for the old Georgian townhouses that give the area its distinguished look, you should expect to part with at least £1 million.
Heralded by the Sunday Times as one of the best places to live in the East of England, Petersfield is another Cambridge neighbourhood on the up. With a strong cluster of independent stores, Chinese supermarkets and CAMRA-approved pubs, the area has been dubbed as Cambridge’s answer to Notting Hill – not least for its charming terraces of well-priced townhouses. When it comes to schools, Petersfield boasts some of Cambridge’s best, with two local state primaries (St Matthew’s and St Alban’s RC) and one secondary (Parkside Community College) all ranked as outstanding. Cambridge central station – which has direct services to both King’s Cross and Liverpool Street – is less than five minutes’ walk away.
Some 12 miles south of the city centre, Trumpington, and neighbouring Great Kneighton, have become a hotspot for new developments, with around 2,000 new homes – ranging from starter flats to family homes – being built in the past few years. The area sits just west of the prestigious Cambridge Biomedical Campus – the gargantuan research complex (the largest of its kind in Europe) built around Addenbroke’s Hospital – which is credited with driving the development boom. Might the area be in for another major boost in years to come? The Department for Transport is currently considering the business case for a new Cambridge South train station which would serve as the main connection point for the Biomedical Campus. Expect house prices to jump dramatically if plans are greenlit.
Designed to provide affordable accommodation for the University, Eddington is the newest neighbourhood in Cambridge, and is already making a bit of a splash. Much of the development here has been driven by the University itself, which has given up its unused land for commercial developments provided house builders also supply new student digs. While the Eddington vision is still in the making (the first houses were finished in 2019), current plans envisage a bustling market square, as well as a new primary school sponsored by the University of Cambridge. The biggest development to date is Athena, which has scooped awards for its fashionable designs. Expect to pay around £300,000 for a studio flat, and just over £1m for a large family house.
While technically a village in its own right, the historic parish of Cherry Hinton sits just three miles south of Cambridge city centre. The village takes it name from Cherry Hinton Hall: a historic manor best known nowadays as the home of the Cambridge Folk Festival. Developers, both local authority and private, have been building steadily here for much of the post-War period. The latest such development is Eastfields, a boutique development from Weston Homes, which offers one and two bedroom apartments as well as larger (three and four bedroom) houses. As you’d expect, the area is well connected to the city centre – both via bus services and, of course, the inevitable cycle lanes.