THE forthcoming new Waitrose store has helped Chipping Sodbury reach a national development hot spot list.

The Sunday Times has picked what it describes as a ‘sleepy Gloucestershire’ town as its eighth most up and coming area across the country, ahead of Leeds and Glasgow.

The paper said although Chipping Sodbury was best known as the birthplace of Harry Potter author JK Rowling, in the former maternity hospital on Station Road in neighbouring Yate, the building of a new Waitrose supermarket has already boosted the market.

The article said: "You can pick up a two-bedroom period home in Chipping Sodbury for about £300,000 and residents are hoping that the opening of Britain’s most middle-class supermarket can only push values higher.

"Recent analysis by Savills estate agency found that across the country, house prices in postcode districts that have a Waitrose are typically 25 per cent higher than the county average."

The ‘Waitrose effect' has been referred to repeatedly by supporters of a supermarket being built in the town, including Sodbury Chamber of Commerce which believes the store will increase footfall thanks to a bridge over the River Frome linking the development with the town’s High Street.

Chairman Mark Lloyd said: "Waitrose has a proven track record of increasing footfall.

"Waitrose is the right profile for Chipping Sodbury and we do need an impetus."

Nick Cragg, of Country Property on Broad Street, said: "New instructions are up on last year’s figures.

"On sales we have found an increasing number of cash buyers looking to invest between £250,000 and £1million on suitable properties, mostly for owner occupation."

Simon Smith, from Milburys on High Street, said: "House prices are increasing but not increasing too quickly.

"The main benefit is a feeling that Chipping Sodbury is becoming more self-contained with big brands such as Waitrose and M&S being on the doorstep. Clients and buyers are excited about the Waitrose development and the good effect it will have on the town."

Stewart Waters, of David James and Partners in Old Sodbury, said Waitrose had contributed to a ‘feel good factor’ about the town.

He added: "Many more buyers are now in proceedable positions and the outlook is more optimistic than for a few years."

Paul Hajek, a solicitor and blogger at conveyancing firm Clutton Cox in Chipping Sodbury, said there were many reasons why the market had picked up in the past year including excitement over the Waitrose and the 160 houses which will be built behind it in future years.

He said: "Buyers and tenants are becoming impatient with the caution they have exercised in response to gloomy forecasts, there is a feeling that their investments and bank deposits are safer in property than elsewhere and there is the convenience of our region to the motorway and railway networks, the proximity of employment opportunities and the Waitrose opportunity."