In a Stressful World, This Land Is at Peace

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Environment Editor Tony Henderson reports on how the North-East is tops for tranquillity ( and the issues that raises.

The North-East is hailed today as the most tranquil place in the country.

What thousands of rural dwellers and visitors to the region already know is confirmed by a study from the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Based on research by teams from Newcastle and Northumbria universities, a tranquillity map of England shows that not only is the North-East the most tranquil region, but that Northumberland is the most tranquil county, followed by Cumbria.

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is also in the top tranquillity bracket.

The least tranquil place is London and the South-East and the least tranquil county is Sussex.

CPRE says that tranquillity is a major contributor to quality of life and mental and physical health, and is calling for action to protect what is now a sought-after but threatened resource.

And increasingly, a financial price is being slapped on tranquillity in the region, says Hugh Fell, managing partner in land agents George White, who have bases in Alnwick, Tynedale and Weardale.

Mr Fell, who is also chairman of the rural valuation team of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: "There is absolutely no doubt that we are experiencing high hikes in property values in tranquil areas.

"Land with a high tranquillity factor is becoming more valued in some places than land where you can grow tonnes of wheat."

People were prepared to bid "way above" the productivity level of land if it was in a tranquil area.

"People are effectively paying for the view and the tranquillity, which is increasingly being recognised in cash terms. We are seeing that across the board," Mr Fell said.

The CPRE tranquillity map ranges from deep red for the most un-tranquil areas through orange and yellow to rich green for the most tranquil places with big views and little man-made noise.

CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said: "We know that tranquil areas are shrinking and fragmenting because of the remorseless growth in road traffic and flying, and the spread of towns, cities and infrastructure.

"Our new mapping method gives us a practical, reliable method of showing where tranquil places can still be found.

"This is the start of our campaign to persuade national and local government, planners, developers, business and public bodies to start using it to safeguard and even enhance tranquil areas. …