Doncaster’s green spaces, regeneration plans and affordable housing is an attractive mix for house-hunters looking to get more for their money.
The decline of the coalmining industry and railway, which Doncaster was built on during the Industrial Revolution, saw the town suffer over recent decades.
But times and fortunes are changing and some serious regeneration is underway.
Doncaster’s cultural quarter has already been revamped – and now hosts a new performance venue. Plans are also in place for a cinema and more housing in the area.
A sum of £20 million has been pledged to transform Doncaster town centre itself, which includes the refurbishment of the Colonnades building and Doncaster train station.
The Waterfront, which is currently an empty site, will also be developed using a further investment of £8 million, while another £1.4 million will be put towards freshen up the town’s public spaces and footpaths.
So how much does it cost to own your own slice of up-and-coming Doncaster? The good news is house prices are still refreshingly affordable.
The average property value in the town sits at a current £148,000 according to Zoopla – that’s marginally less than in the neighbouring city of Sheffield. You can keep track of the latest prices for Doncaster here.
Living in Doncaster: what to expect
Despite its industrial reputation, Doncaster has plenty of green spaces – in fact, no less than 59 woods and country parks can be found across the borough, all of which are easily accessible from the town centre. There are also estates and gardens to explore such as Cusworth Hall.
When it comes to shopping, Doncaster is a no-nonsense thriving hub of alternatives. Doncaster Market has more 400 stalls and is open (in its entirety) for business three times a week. There are also monthly farmers’ markets, a fish market and the International Food Hall and Corn Exchange that supply discerning locals with fresh produce.
Doncaster also has its own racecourse and is big enough to offer a decent dose of nightlife too – head to the area around Silver Street to see what bars and clubs are on offer.
Where to start your property search
The industrial era of Doncaster left behind it a legacy of well-built Victorian and Edwardian housing. But, equally, new developments are cropping up within the town and its surrounding suburbs, presenting a diverse choice for potential homebuyers. Here are a few ideas of where to get started if you are looking to buy:
Town centre: For impressive Victorian family homes with smart front gardens and large bay windows, try Town Moor Avenue – a smart, long road straight road that’s within walking distance from the town centre and overlooks wide open green spaces. Prestigious Regent Square, slightly closer to the town centre, is also lined with large period homes.
Redbrick terraces on Queen’s Road and Auckland Road cater for smaller budgets but still offer some very smart property, some retaining original features such as stained glass windows.
Bear in mind you can still own a slice of one of these imposing Victorian homes without being able to cough up the full asking price, as some of the larger properties – such as those on Avenue Road – have been converted into flats.
For more modest semi-detached homes, try Osborne Road and Axholme Road.
And if your budget is at the lower end of Doncaster scale, head to the area around St James Street where you’ll find a mix of studios as well as one- and two-bed flats in apartment blocks of various sizes.
Doncaster suburbs: Wheatley Hills, just north of the Doncaster’s River Don, is a popular spot among residents, being in close proximity to Cusworth Hall and Museum Park. For comfortable family semi-detached homes, try Grove Vale – or for something a little larger – Thorne Road.
Tickhill, which is around seven miles south of Doncaster town centre, is another spot that attracts young families. You’ll find plenty of Edwardian townhouses here – with Castlegate and Dadsley Road both presenting a good first ports of call for your property search.
On the same side of river, retirees looking to relocate to Doncaster should not overlook the quaint village of Sprotbrough, with its own church and riverside pub. Streets like Stone Cross Road comprise of cosy affordable bungalows which back onto open green fields.
New homes: If it’s contemporary living you’re interested in, there’s plenty of new-build underway in and around Doncaster. Barratt Homes’ Belle Vue development for example is offering smart three- and four-bed homes with enviable views across Doncaster Racecourse.
And Strata’s Dominion in the suburb of Balby, located about four miles from Doncaster’s town centre, is a development of 280 homes, comprised mainly of two to four bedrooms.
Getting in and around Doncaster
Regular fast trains run from Doncaster to London King’s Cross too, taking just an hour and 40 minutes.
By car: Doncaster is located on the A1(M) and M18 motorways, providing access to the M1, M62 and M180.
By air: Doncaster and Sheffield’s Robin Hood Airport operates flights to 40 destinations. Operators include Flybe and Thomas Cook.
Things to do in Doncaster
Outdoors: Enjoy a day out for the whole family at Doncaster Racecourse. It hosts 36 National Hunt Flat races every year, including the historical St Leger meet. Check the events calendar so you know what you’re in for. And if you are not interested in racing, the course facilities are also used for music performances and exhibitions.
Stretch your legs in Sandall Park. This urban family space covers 69 acres and has fitness trails as well as plenty of wildlife.
The Potteric Carr Nature Reserve is also an outdoor family favourite. Try sitting in the hide opposite the café to spot rare birds such as the Bittern.
History: Learn about local history in the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery. Exhibitions include natural history, archaeology and fine and decorative art.
Wander around the historic parkland of Cusworth Hall. This Grade I-listed Georgian house allows free access to its Green Flag park, which has no less than three lakes. Check out the onsite museum about Doncaster’s heritage to find out about what daily life use to be like in the area.
Enjoy a vintage experience at Mansion House. This Palladian-styled civic house now serves sumptuous afternoon teas to guests. You can also attend a tea dance to complete your retro day out.
Conisbrough Castle is another favourite. Explore the 12th-century building and climb to the roof for some dramatic views over the surrounding Doncaster countryside.
Arts and culture: Cast is Doncaster’s new performance venue that hosts comedy acts, jazz bands, ballet groups and theatre companies. You can also watch gigs from travelling and local bands.
Show support for your community by booking in for a show at The Doncaster Little Theatre. Watch cabaret acts, join in the fun of a West End night or catch a talent show.
If you want a quirky live music venue, try Cask Corner. Regular live music nights are interspersed with open mic and quiz nights. Look out for the venue’s unusual decor, which incorporates a coffin and a cyclist doing some ironing (naturally).
Diamond Live Lounge is a late-night bar and music venue. Visit here for great acoustics – it’s set in a converted church, which provides that extra atmospheric edge.
Shopping: Find high-street and designer shops at Doncaster’s Frenchgate Shopping Centre. There are 120 stores to choose from, so you should be able to fulfil every retail need.
Wheatley Retail Park is a centre for major chains stores like Boots and Next Fashion. For discounted goods, try Lakeside Village. This retail area comprises 45 stores selling items with reductions of up to 60% off their original prices.
For more independent boutiques, take a trip to Bawtry. This busy market town is the ‘gateway’ to Yorkshire and has a number of quality independent shops to rummage through.
Food and drink: Satisfy your appetite at Turkish restaurant Turkuaz. Try an authentic kebab cooked over a coal fire or share a traditional meze platter with friends and family.
Alternatively, tuck into traditional fish and chips at Whitby’s. You can opt to have your fish battered, floured or fried, or you can sample one of the many seafood specials.
Doncaster’s best kept secret
Butterscotch was first recorded in Doncaster. It was first made by Samuel Parkinson in 1817 and became a popular sweet at the races. It was even presented to Queen Victoria on a visit to the town.
Look out for shops that still stock this treat, or take a look at the traditional tins at the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery to inspire you to make your own.
5 reasons to live in Doncaster
Some of the most affordable housing in the country
Quick and easy rail connections to major cities
Plenty of markets for fresh produce
Big regeneration plans
New housing estates being developed
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