WITH its leafy streets and enviable range of restaurants and shops, Wintonians have always known their city is special.

But a new survey makes it official, with Winchester shooting up the rankings of the 50 best places to live in the UK.

According to Halifax’s latest Quality of Life Survey, the city is now in the top ten, having risen from 34th place last year, to ninth in 2013.

The annual report considers everything from residents' health and life expectancy, to crime, weather, and broadband access.

Simon North, a partner at Winchester’s Strutt & Parker estate agency, said Winchester’s desirability is all about location.

“Its quality of life is so good. It’s marvellous for schools and for commuting to London. Its position is very, very good. I’ve been here for 40 years and the demand you see for Winchester is steady and increasing, it never goes down.

“A lot of people move here from London and go up to large family houses and having done that, they don’t want o leave because they want to remain close to the cathedral as they retire,” he said. Council leader Keith Wood welcomed the news and also singled Winchester Cathedral out for particular praise.

“I think Winchester is becoming a very popular visitor destination with a wide range of shops and some very good restaurants. It’s becoming peoples’ place of choice.

“I think the Cathedral has played a part in this. It’s a really vibrant organisation at the moment and doing well and making an impact within the city. Winchester is becoming a more exciting place,” he said.

Elsewhere in Hampshire, Eastleigh came a respectable 32nd, the Test Valley 45th, and Fareham just scraped into the list at 49th.

For the third year in a row, the district of Hart, where average weekly earnings are 37 per cent higher than the UK average at £843, topped the poll. The village also has the healthiest residents in the country, with almost 98 per cent saying they are in good or fairly good health.