THREE towns and cities in Lancashire have been named in the top 20 best places to live in the post-pandemic era.

An interactive league table of the best places to live in 2022 has been compiled, with Caton, Colne and Lancaster all securing top spots. 

It comes a couple of weeks after Trawden was named as the best place to live in the North West in the Sunday Times' Best Places to Live Guide.

This separate annual league table, compiled by Britain’s largest independent buying agents, Garrington Property Finders, ranks almost 1,400 cities, towns and villages across England and Wales.

They are judged on four criteria – natural beauty, architectural beauty, quality of life and environmental credentials, as well as considering the areas where at least 95 per cent of homes have access to superfast broadband. 

First-placed Bath, the historic spa city in Somerset, scored highly in three of the four categories that determine the overall ranking.

Its Georgian grandeur – which once inspired Jane Austen and now attracts tourists and TV crews alike – saw it crowned in the architectural category, while its rolling hills and manicured open spaces powered it to 43rd place in the natural beauty category.

Caton, near Lancaster, came fourth in the overall list, up 64 places from last year's ranking, while Colne sits at 13th, up a whopping 349 places since 2021.

Lancaster is the third area in the county making the top 20, sitting at 20th on the list, climbing 17 places since last year.

The 20 best places for post-pandemic living in England and Wales are listed as follows from left to right - rank; change vs 2021; location; county; natural beauty; arch; quality of life; green; family home cost:

  1.  - Bath; Somerset; 43; 1; 596; 58; £659,417
  2. Up 13; Lyme Regis; Dorset; 57; 19; 663; 23; £574,383
  3. Up 126; Salisbury; Wiltshire; 186; 107; 413; 18; £497,247
  4. Up; 64; Caton; Lancashire; 15; 294; 275; 117; £333,789
  5. Up 166; Kidwelly; Carmarthenshire; 223; 165; 66; 382; £202,196
  6. Up 17; Fowey; Cornwall; 7; 18; 352; 632; £688,424
  7. Up 2; Wilton; Wiltshire; 65; 28; 465; 368; £410,973
  8. Up 33; Hadleigh; Suffolk; 230; 89; 591; 25; £452,633
  9. Up 135; Folkestone; Kent; 144; 163; 293; 195; £395,204
  10. Up 7; Newport; Isle of Wight; 246; 69; 591; 35; £347,310
  11. Up 31; Shaftesbury; Dorset; 446; 43; 749; 3; £435,494
  12. Up 318; Wallingford; Oxfordshire; 110; 156; 857; 12; £584,622
  13. Up 349; Colne; Lancashire; 147; 304; 233; 150; £200,859
  14. Up 6; Malmesbury; Wiltshire; 17; 15; 491; 685; £487,524
  15. Up 14; Sudbury; Suffolk; 323; 112; 301; 160; £421,433
  16. Down 10; Rye; East Sussex; 1; 12; 264; 1024; £531,347
  17. Down 15; Tenby; Pembrokeshire; 81; 5; 505; 591; £461,603
  18. Up 10; Weymouth; Dorset; 47; 122; 377; 501; £418,118
  19. Up 43; Hawkhurst; Kent; 446; 48; 800; 11; £511,124
  20. Up 17; Lancaster; Lancashire; 94; 143; 862; 37; £280,677

Researchers also scored each location for its proximity to open water, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

In the architectural beauty category, marks were awarded for the number of listed and period homes, while the quality of life category ranked each town, village and city for its air quality, crime figures, accessibility by public transport and the proportion of properties that have access to outside space.

By looking beyond price, the ranking threw up some notable surprises.

While top-ranked Bath has been a desirable destination for millennia – and has sky-high prices to match – other high-scoring places offer greater value.

Wiltshire and Lancashire are the best represented counties in the league table, each claiming three of the top 20 spots.

The addition of the green category to this year’s ranking has shaken up the 2021 pecking order.

Just six of last year’s top 20 made it into the class of 2022, with new entrants Wallingford (Oxfordshire) and Shaftesbury (Dorset) climbing 318 and 31 places respectively, thanks to their strong green credentials.

Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of Garrington Property Finders, said: “Offices may have reopened but the home-working genie is out of the bottle.

"With millions of people keen to continue working remotely at least some of the time, many are reassessing what they want from their home – and this shift is transforming Britain’s property market for good.

“If you’re unshackled from a daily commute, you instantly have much freer rein over where you live – and can buy in an area where you can get more home, and a better quality of life, for your money.

“Of course having fast, reliable broadband is a given for many buyers, so our league table only includes areas with superfast connection speeds, and we’ve ranked areas according to the criteria that matter most in the post-pandemic market.

“From the beauty of the natural and architectural surroundings to air quality, open spaces and how green-friendly an area is, our interactive tool allows you to explore the full ranking of nearly 1,400 cities, towns and villages.

"It’s fun to use and might just surprise you by suggesting places that offer more of the things you want from where you live.”