Whitley Bay and Heaton named among best places to live in the UK

Whitley Bay remains one of the best places to live in the UK, joined by Newcastle's Heaton. Credit: PA

Two areas in the North East have made the shortlist for best places to live in the UK.

Whitley Bay in North Tyneside remains on the Sunday Times 'Best Places to Live' list after previously taking the top spot in 2023, now joined by Heaton in Newcastle. The areas were commended for cultural vibrancy, community spaces and shopping.

Leeds was named the best place to live in the north and north east of England and North Berwick was named the overall best place to live in the UK.

The Sunday Times’ judges visited all 72 locations on the extensive list and assessed factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street. 

What did the judges say about Heaton?

"NE6 is a lively neighbourhood with just the right amount of grit and glamour, characterised by pretty red-brick houses and a strong sense of bohemian café culture.

Three high streets are packed full of independent foodie jewels, including a vegan sushi restaurant, top-notch coffee shops and cocktail bars on Heaton Road.

Heaton was once the preserve of students; that population endures but graduates here hang around to bring up their children in the terraced former worker’s homes that link the high streets."

A rainbow brightens a cloudy day in Heaton. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Whitley Bay retains its glory:

"Last year’s best place to live in the North and Northeast, this Victorian seaside resort has become a desirable enclave for water-loving families who want brilliant schools, great transport links and a chilled pace of life on the golden shoreline.

Whitley Bay High School is getting an upgrade, Newcastle is easily reached by Metro and Park View remains one of the most likeable shopping streets in the land."

The Full Buck supermoon over the Spanish City building in Whitley Bay in summer last year. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Things to do in Heaton:

  • Heaton Park: The park has a network of footpaths to explore which connect neighbouring Ouseburn Park, Armstrong Park and Jesmond Dene. The park is also home to historic monuments such as The Victorian Pavilion and Terrace and the 13th century ruins of King John’s Palace.

  • Chillingham Road: The road features many independent shops, cafes and restaurants including tiny tap rooms and stonebaked pizza restaurants. It's also rumoured that Jimmi Hendrix busked on Chillingham Road while staying with his former manager, who lived in Heaton, before reaching his heights of fame.

  • Food and drinks: Running alongside Chillingham Road is Heaton Road which has it's own share of independent shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a path into Heaton Park.

Head to the coast and explore Whitley Bay:

  • Spanish City: Originally completed in 1910, 'The Dome’ became a hub of activity and interest, not only because it was home to many attractions, but because of its stunning architecture and unique design. Recently restored to its former glory, the iconic seafront building returned to rekindle its love affair with the residents and visitors of Whitley Bay.

  • St Mary's Lighthouse: Reached between the tides via a short causeway, St. Mary's has all the fascination of a miniature, part-time island. The Lighthouse, completed in 1898, has a surrounding Nature Reserve of rockpools, clifftop grassland, a beach and newly created wetland habitats. Climb the 137 steps to the top of the Lighthouse for the most spectacular views of the North East coast. Or, if you cannot manage the steps, a video facility allows you to experience the same views, live and in colour, at ground level.

  • Vera tour: If you’re a fan of the hit ITV series Vera, you can tour the series’ filming locations. Follow in the footsteps of detective Stanhope between Newcastle, Gateshead, North Shields to Whitley Bay.

  • Promenade: The promenade has undergone major upgrades from the area around Watts Slope, linking to the Spanish City Plaza, all the way along to the Rendezvous Café.

There were more new entries than ever before in this year’s guide and no mention of previous winners such as York, in 2018. The judges looked for improving locations with a strong sense of community rather than famous names with high house prices. 

“What makes our guide unique is that we actually visit all the places we choose and talk to locals to find out what life is really like there,” Helen Davies, the guide’s editor, said.

“That means we can see what people really love about the places they live. That might be fast commutes and high-achieving schools but also clean water to swim in, lively town centres with useful shops, the possibility of earning a living and being part of a friendly community.  "

The full list will be published in the Sunday Times on Sunday 17 March. 

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