Why it's time to move to Hertford
PUBLISHED: 11:12 07 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013
Good schools, independent shops and a wealth of places to eat, drink and relax - Pat Bramley finds it easy to see why families want to live here
James Luton, charismatic director of one of the county towns leading estate agencies, lives and works in Hertford. Whats so good about it? He rolls off the plus points without pausing for breath.
Generally the town has a nice feel about it. There are a lot of historical buildings. It feels safe. Hertford isnt a huge area, amenities are within easy reach.
For shopping there are lots of small boutiques, restaurants and bars. From a family point of view there are several good schools both state and private.
For commuters working in London, there are two train stations: Hertford North has a service into Moorgate/Kings Cross. At peak times I think the trains run every ten to 15 minutes. A lot of people get off at Finsbury Park. Hertford East, the other station, runs a service into Liverpool Street.
A high percentage of the properties here tend to be older style character houses with period features like sash windows which people seem to like. If you compare house prices with St Albans where theres also a predominance of older properties, Hertford is a bit more affordable.
The agent sums up: People moving out from North London come out to Hertford as many do and they find a reasonable choice of flats and houses in most of the popular price ranges, theres a lower crime rate and there are more open spaces.
This is a county town with the amenities of a county town yet the countryside is on our doorstep. There are lovely riverside walks and country walks. It just seems cleaner and nicer.
There are three state secondaries. The Sele School is a specialist college for sport and performing arts. In 2008 Ofsted inspectors reported that the specialist status has had a beneficial impact on the whole life of the school.
Simon Balle is a humanities college. The most recent Ofsted report stated the school was a delightful place in which to teach and learn.
Richard Hale, formerly Hertford Grammar School, is now a comprehensive with science college rating. This year 55 per cent of A level papers were marked A*-B and 83 per cent of GCSE students gained A*-C grades. Ofsted rated the curriculum outstanding.
In the private sector, there are two prep schools in Hertford. At nearby Hertford Heath, the co-ed public school Haileybury College accepts day pupils as well as boarders. Students can study for the International Baccalaureate as well as A-levels.
Road: A414 leads to M11, A1 and M1. A10 leads north to Royston and Cambridge and south to London and the M25.
Rail: The journey into London from either of the two stations takes just under an hour.
Air: Stansted and Luton airports are both about 20 miles away, about 45 minutes by car.
Heritage is at the heart of Hertfordshires county town. Ancient buildings and what might lie beneath them are central to the sense of history which is part and parcel of the modern day town. Its said theres an elaborate network of secret tunnels beneath the streets used by the Knights Templar in ancient times. How true that is is a matter of debate but it adds colour and romance to the place where Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood.
Today Hertfords famous castle is the kingdom of the Town Council but its licensed for weddings and the rooms can be hired by local families and organisations for special events.
Move to Hertford and there are facilities and clubs for pretty well every sort of sport, hobby and cultural interest. Theres an annual music festival, a theatre week, an annual art exhibition, canoe club there are two rivers theres a skate park, tennis club, three public tennis courts, football, music venues, comedy nights, swimming pool, leisure centre, 25 pubs and clubs, 35 restaurants, bars and takeaways and acres and acres of woodland where you can walk for free. And all this is what you can do when youre not shopping.
How much to live here
According to James Luton, resident director of Lanes estate agency in Market Street, the starting price is about 140,000 for an okay one-bedroom flat.
Heres his list of guide prices as you move up the ladder:
Two-bedroom flats: 170,000-180,000
Two-bedroom house: 200,000
Victorian two-bedroom cottage close to amenities: 250,000
Family houses carry a premium because supply is short
Three/four-bedroom semi: 350,000-500,000
Four/five-bedroom semi in one of the best roads: 750,000-900,000