Why it's time to move to Bishop's Stortford?
PUBLISHED: 15:45 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:27 20 February 2013
With its wealth of leisure amenities and entertainment options, Pat Bramley discovers why Bishop's Stortford has become such a popular place to live
With its wealth of leisure amenities and entertainment options, Pat Bramley discovers why Bishops Stortford has become such a popular place to live
TWENTY-five years ago, when people who worked in Bishops Stortford finished for the day they drove home in time to read a story to the children and by six oclock the town was dead. Youd hardly recognise it as the same place now.
When estate agent William Wells locks his office at seven to seven-thirty he gets in the car to drive to his house in one of the surrounding villages and passes a stream of traffic coming into town. Thats the difference.
Stortford, as the locals call it, takes on a new life in the evenings. There are lots of good places to eat as well as nightclubs, a multiplex cinema, theatre, nightclubs, a bowling alley and umpteen other attractions to bring people of all ages into town for a good night out.
Like many centres which have been on the map for centuries, progress has been a mixed blessing.
Some of the well-regarded family-run shops have gone but not all have disappeared as the amenties have been expanded to cater for the needs of a population which has grown from 13,000 in 1951 to more than 35,000 at last count.
Average prices are currently about ten per cent less expensive than they were at the height of the market in 2007. William Wells of the long established Stortford estate agency Mullucks Wells says, Twelve months ago values were down 20 per cent. Prices have recovered but theres still a way to go.
A one bedroom flat costs upwards from 100,000, two bedroom apartments fetch between 150,000-180,000 depending on size and style and you can expect to pay 250,000-275,000 for a three bedroom semi.
A four bedroom detached house in popular estates such as The Parks typically sell for 350,000-400,000. The price rises to 450,000-500,000 for an Edwardian or Victorian villa with period character and modern comforts.
There are two areas in Stortford where the price soars to seven figures.
On the north west side of town you can pay up to 2m to live in one of the leafy roads on the quietest side of Hadham Road. And prices can be just as steep in areas like Warwick Road and Avenue Road for an Edwardian or Victorian on the south east side where the station is within sprinting distance.
Stansted Airport is about a ten-minute drive away. Stansted Express train line not only takes travellers to the airport, it also gets commuters into Liverpool Street in 30 minutes.
The M11 on the outskirts of town goes north to places like Cambridge and Harlow and also links with the M25.
Its the quality of the education in Stortford which brings families into the area, confirms William Wells.
Bishops Stortford College is the chief draw for fee payers. People move here to be close to it, says the agent. The state schools are also good. Hertfordshire & Essex High School (for girls) is highly regarded, so is the Boys High.
There is also Hockerill Anglo European College which is a grant maintained school for girls and boys from 11 -19 and takes boarders.They offer the increasingly popular International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Shopping and leisure
The multi-million-pound extension to the towns Jackson Square indoor shopping centre has almost doubled its size. But there are still a number of shops which have been doing good business in the town for generations.
Carr and Bury on the corner of North Street has been selling haberdashery and fabrics since 1891. It was one of the first in the area to sell sewing machines. Boardmans, the book shop, was established in 1865. Pearsons department store is a more recent arrival having replaced Sparrow, the ironmongers, in the elegant 18th-century building in 1972.
But Tissiman & Sons in the High Street is the record beater. Its the third oldest family business in the UK, 27th oldest in the world. It has been selling smart clothes to well dressed gentlemen since 1601.
Stortford also has a state-of-the-art cultural centre. The Rhodes Arts Complex, enhanced by an injection of Lottery funding, incorporates a theatre, cinema, dance studio and conference facilities. The programme of events often includes old movies.
As a further recommendation to put Stortford on your radar, if all the obvious attractions werent enough, the east Hertfordshire town bordering Essex also has the distinction of being placed seventh in a list compiled by Channel 4 of the best places to live in the UK. What more could you ask for?