YORK may be the ‘best place to live in Britain’ but the average property price has fallen by 2.1 per cent in the past year, according to the UK House Price Index.

It says the average cost of a York property in May was £241,318, compared with £246,559 in May 2017.

Over the same period, it said the average house price in England grew by 2.9 per cent from £236,727 to £243,583 - slightly higher than York.

But estate agents have disputed York’s figures, branding them ‘skewed’ and saying they have actually witnessed a rise in many prices over the period.

The index says the average for Ryedale soared by 8.57 per cent from £211,294 in May last year to £229,399 this May, while the Selby district saw a 5.74 per cent rise from £188,303 to £199,105.

In Hambleton, the figure rose by 0.67 per cent from £224,643 to £226,149, in Harrogate by 1.43 per cent from £276,391 to £280,334 and in East Riding of Yorkshire by 3.2 per cent from £169,272 to £174,695.

Last summer, York’s average house price appeared set to soar past the quarter of a million pound milestone, reinforcing fears that properties were surging out of the reach of first time buyers and fuelling fresh debate over the city’s Local Plan. But prices peaked just short of the landmark at £249,390 in June 2017 before gradually sliding.

The figures are based on Land Registry house sales data and calculated by the Office of National Statistics, but estate agent Scott Anscomb, of Your Move Anscombs, said his firm’s experience of York’s housing market over the past year was ‘quite the opposite.’

He said:”We have found that prices at the very least have held steady, whilst there are areas in and around York that have seen as surge in prices due to demand outstripping supply.”

He said broad brush reports of any kind at a regional level needed to be treated with caution as they rarely accurately reflected what was happening at a local level.

Asked what people could buy for the average price in York, he said Ancsombs had just sold a three double bedroom semi in Tamworth Road for £240,000.

Peter Docwra, of Ashtons, said the figures for York were skewed by more lower price properties being sold and fewer higher priced ones, following stamp duty hikes, and he believed there had actually been a 5 per cent rise or so in prices at the lower end of the market.

*York was given top slot in the Sunday Times’ annual Best Places to Live guide in March, with the city described as a ‘mini metropolis, with cool cafes, destination restaurants and innovative companies, plus the fastest internet in Britain.’