AN area of Dorset has been named among the best places to live in the South West.

The annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide saw 78 locations across the country featured, which ‘represent the best of Britain’.

The Sunday Times’s expert judges assess a number of factors, including schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

Its judges also look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit - which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.

Swanage and the Purbecks were ranked among the best places to live in the South West, with Frome in Somerset being dubbed the best place in the region. Stroud in Gloucestershire won the national award.

Bournemouth Echo: A beautiful shot of Swanage. Picture: Gill RichardsA beautiful shot of Swanage. Picture: Gill Richards

In explaining why the coastal area was featured, a spokesman for the Sunday Times said: “An all-too-rare example of an old-fashioned seaside resort that’s happy all year round was the judges’ verdict here.

“It has a magnificent Victorian pier as well as active clubs and community groups. And some of Dorset's finest scenery is right on the doorstep.

“They picked out the range of sports clubs, led by the sailing club and including tennis, cricket, football and croquet, and the regular beach cleans, litter picks and tree-plantings, as well as the award-winning chocolate gelato from Fortes ice-cream parlour.”

The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2021 in the Southwest are as follows in no particular order:

• Winner Nationally: Stroud, Gloucestershire

• Winner in the Southwest: Frome, Somerset

• Bradford-upon-Avon, Wiltshire

• Bristol

• Kingsbridge, Devon

• Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

• Swanage and the Purbecks, Dorset

• Tisbury and the Nadder Valley, Wiltshire

• Topsham, Devon

• Wadebridge, Cornwall

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings.

"With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.

“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages.

“Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected."