Original article from Kent Live
Sevenoaks was recently heralded as one of the nation's top locations to live by The Times.
And it's not the first time the west Kent town has been heralded for its quality of life.
Despite a tricky 12 months on all counts, Sevenoaks has thrived in its reputation and is attracting more buyers than before the pandemic.
According to Savills, even with lockdown, a whopping 30 per cent more people are flocking to Sevenoaks.
So, why is there such a big deal surrounding our county's humble town?
When you look at the judging criteria consulted by The Times panel, it's easy to see why Sevenoaks has ranked so highly.
Everything from schools to transport to green spaces to the health of the high street was drawn up on the marking sheet.
Sevenoaks has something to offer on all those counts.
Although many Sevenoaks locals often see no reason to look much further than the host of amenities on their doorstep, the town's locality to London is also a great factor in the area's pull.
In just 25 minutes residents can be at London Bridge in the heart of the capital – an impressive time when thinking that many Londoners commute for over 40 minutes to work daily.
International travel is just around the corner too. a 30-minute drive could take you to Gatwick airport or to the Eurostar terminal at Ebbsfleet too.
As easy as it is to get out of Sevenoaks, it's also what's on offer inside the town that makes it such an impressive town.
Schools rated outstanding by Ofsted include Riverhead Infants' School and Lady Boswell's Church of England VA Primary School.
'Lively town centre'
When not in the classroom or the office, Sevenoaks' leisure offerings have buoyed community spirit over the past year.
Judges of The Times' competition said: “With commuting on hold in the past year, it has been the independent shops in the lively town centre and beautiful walks in Knole Park that have caught our attention.”
The panel admitted that the newly expanded Sevenoaks Bookshop and the coffee quality of Malabar had caught their eye.
Special praise was also afforded to plant-based cafe Life on High, which has contributed free meals to schools and lunches to NHS key workers.
Sevenoaks does offer activities such as paintball, sports camps, play barns, The Stag arts centre and much more to keep locals entertained.
However, over the past year with indoor socialising at a premium, it's Knole Park that has come to the forefront.
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The National Trust park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its rare and nationally scarce wildlife.
The park is full of rich woodland and deer, as well as offering a golf course on its grounds.
One commenter on The Times' website admitted: "Feel like I've lived in Knole Park over the last year!"
Having that park is a big plus for the town's air quality too, but recent noticeable efforts have also seen the quality improved to an "acceptable" level according to the district council.
When pressed to pick a catch, judges on The Times panel found one in house prices being higher than other areas.
The average house value was estimated to be a hefty £710,000, which comes in higher than London according to Zoopla.
With all the hubbub of the capital less than half an hour away, but surrounded by an easier pace of life and National Trust parks – many in Sevenoaks would argue you do get what you pay for.
What do you love about Sevenoaks? Let us know in the comments below.