Two locations in Essex have been named as sone of the best places to live in the East of England by a national newspaper.

The locations have made the top ten in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide.

Judges assess a wide range of factors from schools, transport and broadband speed to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street to produce the guide.

Norwich was named the best in the East but Leigh and Saffron Walden came in the top ten.

The top ten is not listed in rank order.

Last year Dedham and West Mersea had made the list.

Leigh is famed for its glorious seafront views, lively restaurants and bars and a host of successful independent businesses.

The announcement was welcomed by businesses and residents, who cited the Old Town and Leigh Broadway, alongside a thriving nightlife as key reasons why the area continues to thrive.

Ron Price, former president of the Leigh Rotary Club, said: “It has a fascination about it that people really enjoy. There are plenty of smaller and independent businesses and shops.

“It has pretty much all anyone needs or wants, from good cafes to restaurants and so much more. As a club we do most of our work in the town such as fundraising and community support.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Residents love living in Leigh. Picture: Steve BradingResidents love living in Leigh. Picture: Steve Brading

“Leigh doesn’t rely on the big chains and companies and has it’s own style of firms and companies.”

Mother-of-seven Carolyne Goodall said: “We love where we live and are quite near to Belfairs Woods.

“We have all the amenities that we need nearby, which we like. We have such great parks, and we like the seafront area too.

“The Old Town is lovely, and we visit quite a lot. It’s so untouched and not changed, which I really like. Also, it’s so different from everywhere else around our area.

“It feels like going back in time when you visit, and the Old Town has great pubs too.”

Saffron Walden is a market town with a thriving community.

The Sunday Times listing said: “Here the multicoloured medieval houses are reassuringly expensive, while Saffron Walden County High is highly regarded, and market days (Tuesday and Saturday) are a big deal.

“The streets thrum with life and laughter as crowds browse the stalls, picking up artisan olives, watch batteries and their weekly fruit and veg haul. Many stand around nursing a latte from the coffee stand and, come Saturday lunchtime, will grab a bite to eat from the seafood bar.”