MALVERN Hills has been hailed as the second best place to live in England and Wales after the results of a national survey were released this week.

The area came second only to Uttlesford, a district of Essex whose main town is Saffron Walden, in a study commissioned and published by the Sunday Times newspaper.

Herefordshire came 148th in a poll of 376 local authority areas carried out by analysts, Experian.

Each was judged according to eight factors affecting the quality of life, including retail vitality, unemployment, disposable income, house prices, car ownership as an index of congestion, state schools' quality, crime level and housing density.

Winning Uttlesford got 586 points and Malvern Hills 730. The worst area, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, scored 2,421 points.

Sharon Gray, Malvern Hills District Council's economic development officer, said: "This is brilliant news.

"It's very good to have this positive kind of publicity, which will encourage visitors to come here and businesses to relocate."