SOUTHAMPTON is among the top three places to live and work in the UK, according to accountancy giants PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper).

The Good Growth for Cities Index measures 42 of the UK’s largest towns and cities and shows Southampton moving up the rankings to challenge the top two - Oxford and Reading.

It comes as city shoppers wait for the opening of the Bargate Quarter -and just two years after Westquay opened its new Esplanade. 2019 will also see the opening of arts and heritage centre God's House Tower after a £2.7million refit, while February saw the £30million Studio 144 throw open its doors.

The index aims to show there is more to life, work and general well-being than simply measuring GDP.

According to PwC, “Southampton is gaining ground because of an increase in the number of new business start-ups in Southampton compared to last year’s report.”

The index also measures employment, health, income and skills - the most important factors, as judged by the public - while housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included.

The findings come just weeks after Southampton was named as a growing high-tech digital destination, coming fifth in the rankings of the world’s "super clusters" above Cambridge, Bristol and Cologne.

Head of engagement at Southampton University Shaun Williams said the ranking is thanks to the University's "far-reaching impact" while Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent LEP said: “Southampton is quietly creating ripples in the digital world. Although having an economy based on a maritime sector is where it had made its name, the city is also now home to a growing tech cluster.”

Tim Keeping, Chairman of Go! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District, said: “Southampton’s thriving maritime, retail, restaurant, academic research and educational sectors are contributing to our standing amongst the top UK cities.”

James Gough, director of the Cultural Development Trust, said: “A number of strong partnership projects are underway that look to ensure that the city maximises the social and economic value of its strong cultural sector.”

The top 10 are:

  • 1. Oxford
  • 2. Reading
  • 3. Southampton
  • 4. Milton Keynes
  • 5. Bristol
  • 6. Edinburgh
  • 7. Swindon
  • 8. Coventry
  • 9. Aberdeen
  • 10. Leicester