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Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Wednesday, 27 October 2010 16:01 UK
Welcome to North Londonshire

Rockingham village
The heart of North Londonshire: Rockingham village in Corby

By Boc Ly
BBC London

Imagine a green and picturesque village where you can buy a three bedroom house for less than £160,000 and get to your London office in less than an hour.

The good news is that such a place does exist; the bad news is that you will not find it on the Tube map.

Tom Lomonte is a 26-year-old quantity surveyor who currently rents a cramped studio flat in Ealing with his girlfriend, Helen.

They have been thinking about buying their own place for a while and armed with a budget of approximately £200,000 looked at properties all over north London, Watford, then Hemel Hempstead and as far 'north' as Luton.

They were getting further and further away from the capital.

One day, Tom noticed an advertisement for North Londonshire as he went up the escalators at Leicester Square Tube station.

Tom Lomonte
I showed Helen what we could get for our money and she couldn't believe it
Tom Lomonte

"I looked at it and thought, 'really!? Where's that?' So, I investigated further and looked at the website. I showed Helen what we could get for our money and she couldn't believe it.

"We've now found a property for £158,000, a beautiful four-bedroom, three-storey townhouse with loads of character. In the Watford area we were looking at a two bedroom flat and it was tiny. It was an absolute no-brainer."

Where is this utopia?

North Londonshire is, in fact, less of a place and more of an idea.

It is a campaign hatched by the North Northants Development Company (NNDC) to encourage people to move to North Northamptonshire and its principal towns of Corby, Kettering, Rushden and Wellingborough.

However, research showed that few people actually knew where any of those places were. Hence, the North Londonshire campaign was born.

"You can come and buy a four bedroom house for £180,000 in a nice area where there is more space around you and good schools," says Nick Bolton of NNDC.

"You can get a lifestyle upgrade for less money and in the current climate I would say that is an attractive proposition for lots of growing families."

Growth areas

The NNDC, which is a partnership of local authorities and the private sector, hope to increase the population within its area from 300,000 to 400,000 by 2026.

NORTH LONDONSHIRE
North Londonshire

"It's about regenerating the towns," says Nick Bolton.

"People with skills are moving into the area and they are bringing their experience and wealth with them."

North Northamptonshire sits in a Designated Growth Area, which is a public initiative to tackle the housing shortage in London and south east England.

Corby and Kettering are already among the fastest growing towns in the UK, with more than £265m invested in the area and 11,500 jobs created over the last decade.

London to Kettering

Tom and Helen are now preparing for their move to Kettering.

While Tom admits, he'll miss the 'massive buzz' of London; he will not miss the 'barging' on the Tube and 'the whole head-down not making eye contact with people' aspect of London life.

They have already worked out that the extra distance (Kettering to St Pancras is less than an hour on the train) is not a significantly longer commute.

Their monthly mortgage payment will be £760. They currently pay £700 rent every month for their studio flat in Ealing.

"That's £60 extra a month to have four double bedrooms and huge bathroom," says Tom.

"Going out will be cheaper too. A bottle of beer is £1.80 in Kettering, here in London you have to sign your life away for a beer."




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