Just over an hour’s drive away from Manchester is a beautiful, newly built village in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales. Built from local stone, Matlock Spa sits in an abandoned quarry next to the Peak District National Park, and developers say it’s attracting downsizers, retirees and first-time buyers from the surrounding cities of Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds who are seeking a more peaceful way of life.
Set up on a hill overlooking the historic town of Matlock, framed by the sweeping Derwent Valley, Matlock Spa is taking shape with the first phase of a 500 homes now built. Developers say the village builds on the spa tradition of Matlock and nearby Buxton with a focus on health, wellbeing and being immersed in nature.
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Matlock Spa is the vision of landowner and social entrepreneur Charles Rifkind, who acquired the former quarry and worked with award-winning David Morley Architects to create the new village, which took almost 20 years to complete due to the complex planning process involved.
The homes have been designed to blend in with the rugged beauty of the area, with its wild woodland, lakes, ancient gorges and dales.
The first phase of Matlock Spa consists of 58 homes including apartments in spa villas and a mill-style building of loft apartments with private balconies.
There is also a crescent of terraced cottages and a collection of townhouses, each with gardens and covered parking ports, built using local stone and slate.
“We have set out to create a new place of beauty and architectural merit that will stand the test of time, reflecting this extraordinary setting,” Charles Rifkind said.
“This will be home to around 2,000 people, who will be proud to live there. We want Matlock Spa to establish positive principles for creating high quality homes that enhance the landscape in other parts of England, rather than the nondescript housing delivered by some of the major housebuilders.”
When fully completed, there will be five areas of the new village, named Gateway Spa, Cresent Spa, Woodland Spa, Esplanade Spa and Village Spa, which will each have their own character. The vast range of two, three, four and five-bed homes aim to appeal to young professionals, families and downsizers.
Matlock Spa promises to encourage healthy living and promote fitness with a network of cycle lanes, footpaths with nearby country walks, cycling, fishing and play areas.
Robert Donnelly, a 33-year-old pharmaceutical industry consultant, moved to Matlock Spa from Greenwich in London earlier this year for a job in the region. I have decided to rent for the short-term and moved into a three bedroom terraced house.
“I moved to Matlock as it was well positioned for my new job between Cheshire and Leeds. It’s a town with good facilities, shops, bars and restaurants yet it is a stone’s throw from the Peaks and beautiful countryside,” he said.
“I was very impressed with the architecture of the properties and the location is great. Compared to other rental properties I viewed in the area, it was significantly superior in location, size, specification and amenities.
“The views out of the front windows are very impressive and the car port is very useful. I also like the high ceilings throughout the property which gives it a light and airy feel.
“I have decided to rent for the next year or so but then I would definitely consider buying at Matlock Spa. Moving completely to the middle of nowhere after being in London would have been a challenge – here I have the happy medium.
“My quality of life has definitely improved since moving from London to Matlock Spa.”
The village is a short walk from Matlock station and the town centre, with its Georgian and Victorian buildings and riverside setting, shops, cafes, bars, craft businesses, schools and leisure facilities. About an hour from Manchester, it’s link to London via the M1.
Prices start from £330,000 for two bedroom apartments, £475,000 for two bedroom penthouses, £425,000 for three bedroom terraced cottages and four bedroom townhouses from £500,000.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.