A new home in Cambridgeshire
There is plenty of choice between town and country if you are looking for a new home in Cambridgeshire.
Drained by the rivers Nene and Ouse and their tributaries, Cambridgeshire is a county of contrasting landscapes.
To the east it is dominated by the open spaces and waterways of the Fens. Holme Fen near Peterborough is the lowest point in England – it is actually below sea level! Many of the smaller towns and villages in the eastern part of the county are built on small islands that rose out of the marshes before the Fens were drained in the 17th and 18th centuries. These include Ely, March, Thorney and Wisbech.
To the south of Cambridge, the flat landscape gives way to the chalky low Gog Magog Hills. The land also rises in the west of the county to form gently rolling fields and woodlands.
Predominantly rural, Cambridgeshire’s main manufacturing centre is in the thriving city of Peterborough, while there are light industrial, science and technology-based businesses centred on Huntingdon and Cambridge.
Cambridgeshire boasts two fine cathedrals in Peterborough and Ely – which although in reality is a pleasant small town is technically a city because of the presence of the cathedral.
House building is taking place throughout the county with developments in many of the small towns and larger villages as well as the cities.
House prices in Cambridgeshire
A new house in Cambridgeshire is within reach of many budgets. There are new homes being developed for everyone from first time buyers through to large families.
The average value of houses in Cambridgeshire is on a par with the rest of the East of England – including many places much nearer to London – and is a little higher than the average for England as a whole.
However, the average figures for the county disguise a wide variation. Generally, new house prices in the villages and small towns are significantly lower than in the cities and larger towns – yet the county’s good road network means these are not difficult to reach for daily commuters or those seeking bigger shops and other urban facilities.
Within the cities, house prices in Peterborough are significantly lower than those in Cambridge.
Things to do and see in Cambridgeshire
Anyone buying a new house in Cambridgeshire will not be short of things to do in their spare time. There is a wide range of attractions across the county.
The National Trust has several properties around the county including Anglesey Abbey, Houghton Mill, Lode Watermill, Peckover House and Garden, Ramsey Abbey and Wimpole Hall, all worth a visit. Then there are of course the two cathedrals, Peterborough and Ely.
For nature lovers there is a wealth of nature reserves, woodlands and country parks to visit. Highlights include Fowlmere RSPB reserve, Nene Park and Wicken Fen.
There are many leisure and sports facilities in the county based in the major towns and cities of Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon and Peterborough as well as in the smaller towns and in villages. And, of course, there are theatres, cinemas, pubs, clubs, restaurants, shops and more.
Transport in Cambridgeshire
Excellent road links provide access to the whole of the UK from across Cambridgeshire.
The county has the A1 trunk road (which is ‘motorway standard’ as the A1(M) for much of its length) on its western edge. In the north of the county, the A47 links Peterborough with Norwich and the East coast.
The A14, which joins the east coast ports with the Midlands and major motorways including the M1 and the M6, skirts Huntingdon and Cambridge in the south of the county. It is currently being upgraded at a cost of more than £1 billion to further improve traffic conditions.
The East Coast main rail line from London Kings Cross passes through Huntingdon and Peterborough. A train journey from Peterborough to London can take less than 50 minutes which makes Cambridgeshire an ideal place for commuters looking for a new home.
A cross-country rail service links Peterborough with the Fen towns of Whittlesey, March and Ely, as well as Cambridge and nearby Stansted Airport just over the county boundary – the ideal starting point for European and other international journeys.
Bus services between major settlements are frequent and there is a guided busway between Huntingdon and Cambridge.
Education in Cambridgeshire
Families looking for a new home in Cambridgeshire can take advantage of a wide range of education options for primary and secondary school children in both the independent and state school sectors.
All the major towns and cities in Cambridgeshire have plenty of schools and colleges to choose from. There is also a range of further and higher education options available in Peterborough, Wisbech and Cambridge – including, of course, the world-famous Cambridge University.
Health services and amenities in Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is served by hospitals in Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough. There is also a specialist heart and lung hospital at Papworth.
Buying a new home in Cambridgeshire means opting to live in a region well-served by healthcare professionals - there are more than 100 GP practices throughout the county. Life expectancy in Cambridgeshire is well above the average both for the region and for the country as a whole, according to Public Health England.
A brief history of Cambridgeshire
Modern Cambridgeshire was formed in 1974 as an amalgamation of what were then the local councils of Cambridgeshire, Isle of Ely, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough.
But people have been moving to new homes in the county long before that. In fact, Cambridgeshire has evidence of some of the oldest homes in the country at Must Farm near Whittlesey where archaeologists have found the remains of a Bronze Age settlement. The remains of five homes in what was then possibly an idyllic waterside setting dating back 3,000 years have been found, along with Britain's most complete prehistoric wooden wheel.
There is evidence of settlement dating back to the Neolithic period at sites such as Flag Fen in Peterborough.
The region was settled by the Romans and there was significant occupation in the south of the county and along the Nene Valley and areas around Peterborough. Later the area was settled by both the Saxons and the Danes who pushed their way up the Nene, Ouse and the Cam.
Cambridgeshire is predominantly agricultural. The rich soils of the Fens have been a fertile source of food production since the area was first drained by the Earl of Bedford with the help of Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden from the 1650s onwards. The Great Fen Project is now seeking to return an area of the fen near Peterborough to its pre-drained state.
During the Second World War Cambridgeshire was a base for both RAF Fighter Command and the USAAF at airfields such as Duxford and Alconbury.
The region has seen significant development since the 1970s with Peterborough being designated as a ‘new town’ – leading to it now being one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK.
Current new housing developments in Cambridgeshire