Barnard Castle in County Durham and self-administered eye tests will be linked forever in the public mind after the questionable antics of former Boris Johnson aide Dominic Cummings.
But for thousands of house hunters the political tomfoolery in the town also briefly made it one of the UK’s property hotspots, Rightmove’s review of the year has revealed.
The portal says that back in May, when coverage of Cummings’ alleged Covid rule breaking in the town was at its zenith, daily searches for property there leapt by 144%.
The research also reveals that Bruton in Somerset was 2020’s overall winner with an annual 72% increase in searches, helped by another sort of fame – Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country Channel 4 TV show, which was filmed nearby.
Bruton is followed by Pitlochry in Scotland, Aylesford in Kent, Salcombe in Devon and Lightwater in Surrey.
Rightmove claims these search surges have all been created by lockdown-fatigued urban residents pining after a country home.
The portal also says seven of the top 10 areas that have seen the biggest rises in the number of sales being agreed over the past 12 months have populations under 10,000 – further highlighting the popularity of rural locations.
Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said, “This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of home-movers escaping to the country and we think this trend will continue for now as people show their willingness to make significant life changes.
“The data highlights just how influential the unexpected events of this year have been in shaping the nation’s housing priorities, with many buyers determined to swap city streets for rural and coastal retreats.”