7 January, 2015
It's often known for its proximity to slightly bigger towns - and being within commuting distance of London - but Wokingham itself has plenty to offer for visitors and, more importantly, the people who live there. This is perhaps why the population has continued to grow over the last decade or so, and it goes some way to explaining the various accolades and titles it has been given in recent years.
It seems that happiness exists in abundance in Wokingham. The town has amassed plenty of recognition in recent years, and is a regular feature at the top of 'best places to live' lists. In 2012, it came out top in the Family Friendly Hotspots Report, which highlights the best places in England and Wales to bring up children. This is no real surprise given the range of education options on offer.
It's also been named the 'healthiest place in the UK' by Public Health England, and the best for general quality of life in a survey carried out by Halifax. Even when it's not leading these tables, it can usually be found in or around the top five.
Let's take a closer look, then, at exactly what it is that makes Wokingham such a great place to live.
The ideal location
As mentioned above, Wokingham's position in the heart of England isn't the only thing that makes it the perfect place to live, but it's certainly a major draw for many home-hunters.
Situated less than 40 miles from the centre of London and ten miles from Reading, it has quickly become something of a haven for commuters looking to avoid the big-city bustle and astronomical property prices. It doesn't stop at Reading and London either - residents also have Basingstoke, Maidenhead, Farnborough and Guildford within easy reach, making the task of finding suitable employment a whole lot easier.
Wokingham's locational benefits aren't just about practicality. Despite being so close to a number of prominent urban areas, the town is surrounded by nature. Not only are there spacious woodland areas and lush green fields, residents also have golf courses and nature reserves to explore at their leisure.
Having such great surroundings is enough to draw anyone to a particular town or city, but not everything will be within easy walking distance. Were this not true, Wokingham probably wouldn't be the characterful and peaceful place it is. This is why the town's transport infrastructure is so important - with a handy bus network and plenty of convenient road and rail links, residents are able to get around the town's own amenities without any hassle at all.
First, drivers can quickly access the M4 motorway by taking a short trip up the A329, which runs from South Wales right through to London - taking in towns and cities like Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Swindon and Reading as it goes. The M3 is also easily reachable by heading southbound on the same dual-carriageway and provides simple links to Hampshire and, once again, London.
Wokingham is also served well by its very own train station. From here, it's possible to reach all of the major towns and cities nearby, as well as some of the smaller and lesser-known villages, like Crowthorne. What's more, a regular direct service means that holiday-bound residents can get to Gatwick Airport in little more than an hour.
It is possible to walk from one side of Wokingham to the other in around 45 minutes, but buses make even these journeys a lot easier. The First network, for instance, covers a number of stops in the area, taking passengers to surrounding towns too.
No room for boredom
Staying occupied is never difficult in Wokingham; the town has plenty to offer in the way of recreational activities, especially given its relatively small size.
For a start, there are plenty of parks in the area, including Barkham Road Recreation Ground, Langborough Recreation Ground, Elms Field and Waverley Park. Add to this a number of playing fields and leisure centres, and it's easy to see why sporting activities are so abundant. More than 20 different teams are based at Pinewood Leisure Centre alone, for instance. As is the case in many towns and cities across the UK, football is particularly popular, with Wokingham & Emmbrook F.C representing in the regional lower leagues.
There's a lot of fun to be had away from sports too. Every August, people gather from across Berkshire and the country to attend the Wokingham Music, Food & Drink Festival, for example - where local artists and food producers come together to show off their creations. The medium of film is also given its time to shine a week before the festival, when an open-air cinema is set up in the town.
Much of Wokingham has been redeveloped over the last few years, and the town is by no means standing still. Thanks to a £100 million regeneration project orchestrated by the council (under the name Wokingham Enterprise Limited), the future looks extremely bright too. It's clear that as the population grows steadily, the local government is continuing to look at ways of making sure the quality of life enjoyed by Wokingham's residents remains as high as possible.
Expansion projects are, therefore, ongoing; and residents can expect to see the already-great facilities and amenities around them improve over the coming years. As this happens, life will not only get easier but the desirability of property in Wokingham will begin to rise - meaning it's a great short and long-term decision.