Why it's time to move to Harpenden
PUBLISHED: 08:33 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 20 February 2013
It's easy to see what makes this an attractive place to live as Pat Bramley discovers a town full of life, greenery and good schools
HARPENDEN has a split personality. Its a vibrant town with a population of 30,000 but the tree lined high street with grass verges, varied roof lines and period cottages slotted between shops, restaurants and inns gives it the character of a village.
Being less than half an hour by train from London, its one of Hertfordshires most popular commuter havens. Property prices are high but you cant expect cheap housing in a town like this with so much going for it, from a wealth of shops and activities to the beautiful haven of Rothamsted Park to stroll in.
The standard of education is one of the major draws for families moving into Harpenden.
Sir John Lawes, one of the leading secondary schools in the area, received a glowing Ofsted report in 2008. Inspectors described it as outstanding. Educational standards and achievement, quality of teaching and learning all received the top rating. The school is a specialist centre for media and communication studies, its also classed as a training school for teachers, it has specialist science status and its been designated as an international school. It is one of very few schools nationally to have received four such accolades, reported the educational watchdogs.
St Georges School, originally private and now voluntary aided, takes day pupils and boarders. It is one of the three top schools in the county for improving standards between Key Stage 2 and GCSE.
Roundwood Park also gets good results. It has specialist status for languages, maths and computing.
Aldwickbury School is a well known boys prep school. From the age of 11 to 13 pupils have the option to board three or four nights a week but all students go home on Friday evenings for the weekend. The latest Ofsted report described boarders behaviour as exemplary.
Shopping and leisure
Harpenden has excellent shopping with a high percentage of independent retailers. Shop owners are currently promoting a Keep It Local campaign. Local residents are being issued with a loyalty card to give them a discount on prices in town centre shops.
Few places can have more clubs and societies than Harpenden.
Music lovers are in their element. In February this year talented young instrumentalists took part in Harpendens Musicale Eisteddfod. Some of the musicians from the Eisteddfod will be on stage again with performers from all over the country at the Summer Music Festival. Other options for singers and dancers include a barbershop choir, a Scottish Country Dancing Club and a light operatic society which this year celebrates its Diamond Jubilee with a production in October of Gilbert and Sullivans The Gondoliers.
Every sport and hobby is catered for. The 238-acre Harpenden Common has been home to a golf club since 1894.
The beauty spot is just one of many public open spaces in the town. Its not only golfers who use the common. There are two cricket clubs, a football club, theres a bridle way and a network of paths for ramblers and on the last Wednesday in July theres the Classic Car Show. The meeting is one of the largest events of its kind in Europe with something like 1,300 cars and 10,000 visitors.
Move to Harpenden and you need never sit at home and watch the telly for the want of something better to do.
How much to live here
In some parts of Harpenden a three or four bedroom property can be bought for 300,000-400,000 but a three bedroom semi close to the town centre attracts a premium which pushes the price up to 600,000-650,000. Expect to pay anything from a million to three million for the type of house youve always wanted when your ship comes in.
Hopefully more good properties will come on the market after the election, says Neil Rose at Savills in the town.
Rail: Fast trains from Harpenden Station to St Pancras stop only at St Albans and get to London in 25 minutes. Annual season ticket: 2,948. Daily parking charge at the station: 6.
Road: Junction 9 of the M1 to London is about ten minutes away. Cross country trip to John Lewis in Welwyn takes about 20 minutes.
Air: Theres a fast non-stop train service to Luton Airport, otherwise throw your cases in the car and get there in 15-20 minutes.
Trains to Gatwick take one hour and 10 minutes.