Homes are selling like hot cakes in Otley as it gives Ilkley a run for its money
Friday, 18th September 2020, 10:28 pm
There is an extensive list of great selling points for Ashfield Park, an elegant Georgian country house in gorgeous grounds and one of Otley’s most impressive historic buildings.
Perhaps the best is that TV producer Vanessa Thornton has chosen to live in three different homes there, rightsizing into them over the last 18 years as she couldn’t bear to leave the property.
“I started in the North wing, then I moved to an apartment and then to the East wing. I love it here. It has two and a half acres of grounds and all the benefits of rural living but it’s a mile and walking distance from Otley and a 25 minute drive into central Leeds,” says Vanessa who is now preparing to say a sad goodbye to her much-loved home.
Her daughters compete in equestrian events and have a horse and pony, so the family needs a home with land and stables. For that reason, the four-bedroom East wing at Ashfield Park is now on the market for £585,000 with Dacre, Son and Hartley.
It is an end property within the grand house, which was sensitively converted into five homes 20 years ago by respected developer Martin Erkulis. His legacy is a gated idyll with grounds overlooking a lake and a nature reserve.
“It is a fantastic place to raise children as it is very safe with huge grounds but they can walk into Otley to meet friends, which gives them independence.
“It is also a good lock up and leave option as it’s gated so it is very secure,” says Vanessa, who has decorated her home with a light touch so that the interior design doesn’t fight for attention with the stunning views and the period features.
Soft Farrow and Ball neutrals have been used on the walls of the main reception rooms with contemporary art adding pops of colour.
“The sitting room has floor-to-ceiling sash windows overlooking the lake and the countryside beyond and they are a major feature so I didn’t want anything to detract from them,” says Vanessa.
The furniture and furnishings are a mix of inherited items, antique and vintage finds from Hartleys auction house in nearby Ilkley and oriental pieces from Bradford-based Shimu.
“Leaving here will be very difficult and it is a bittersweet sale because we bought the East wing thinking it would be our forever home. It is an amazing place to live and we have lovely neighbours and a great community but we now need a place where we can live with our horses,” says Vanessa.
Ashfield House dates to 1816 when it was built for a Leeds brewer. As his fortune increased, the property grew and became grander. It later became a girls’ boarding school before Tetley’s turned it into its headquarters. Martin Erkulis bought it in 2000.
The south-facing East wing has an abundance of Georgian features, including ornate plasterwork, fireplaces and shutters. The property is approached through a private entrance or via a communal area. The living accommodation stretches to approximately 2,600 sq ft, and occupies the ground and lower ground floors. There is a reception hall, living room, dining kitchen and snug to the ground floor.
A staircase leads to the lower area, which has underfloor heating and houses a master bedroom suite, three further bedrooms, one with an en-suite, and a house bathroom. A substantial storage area comes with permission to convert to a cinema room. Outside, there is a gated entrance along with grounds that have Otley Chevin as a backdrop. These include a sitting out area, substantial lawns and mature trees plus the nearby lake and nature reserve with bird sanctuary.
There should be no shortage of would-be buyers as the property market in Otley is hot. The town’s popularity has grown in recent years and it has become a magnet for artists, makers and musicians who add a hip, bohemian element.
Amenities are excellent and include three supermarkets – Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury’s – along with a host of independent shops and good schools, including Prince Henry’s Grammar School, sports clubs, a farmer’s market, swimming pool, a park and excellent pubs, cafes, restaurants and art and music centres.
Surrounded by stunning Lower Wharfedale countryside with Otley Chevin rising above it, more use is being made of its riverside area and fears of a repeat of devastating floods are being calmed now that a £3.4m flood defence scheme has won local authority approval.
“Otley is quirky and has fantastic amenities. It is very different to nearby Ilkley in that it has a mix of people and has become more bohemian so there’s a Hebden Bridge style vibe here now,” says Vanessa.
Estate agent Tim Usherwood, head of Dacre, Son and Hartley’s Otley office agrees and adds: “Otley is now very much sought-after and is no longer classed as Ilkley’s poor relation.
“Ilkley has the moor and Otley has the Chevin and both places have good schools and excellent amenities. The only thing that we don’t have that Ilkley does is a train station but Menston station is a five minute drive away.”
The biggest benefit of buying in the market town is that your money still goes a lot further. House prices are 25 per cent less than they are in Ilkley.
You can find a two-bedroom terraced house for £170,000, a semi from £250,000 and a detached house from £350,000.
“We are very busy. We are seeing a lot of families looking to buy here and a lot of people who are moving back up here from down south,” says Tim. “What Otley offers is a good quality of life and that’s why a lot of people who buy here, stay here.”
*East Wing, Ashfield Park, is on the market for £585,000. Contact Dacre, Son and Hartley, Otley, tel: 01943 463321, www.dacres.co.uk
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