Finally I found an Aladdin's cave of fabric, situated about 30 minutes away, it turns out to be a retailer of one of the websites I've been looking at, fabricland.co.uk. They had a whole shop of dressmaking fabrics, not a curtain in sight, and it was all extremely good value! My mum and I both got extremely excited when we walked in and realised how much fabric was on offer, in fact there was so much choice that I was struggling to decide what I wanted to buy!
In the end I came out with three easy patterns to try, Butterick B4957, Butterick B5305 and McCall's M6011. I also went for two different fabrics, this one which will be great for a spring/summer dress:
And a lovely dark pink and black tiny houndstooth print suiting fabric. Both came in at around £3 or £4 a metre but are really nice quality and I can't wait to use them! The prices were much more suitable to my student budget compared to the £15 a metre I was seeing in John Lewis.
I have also caught wind of a fashion fabric shop in my university town which I'll be sure to check out when I go back.