Area guide: The Harpenden area in Hertfordshire


The move from London to Harpenden in search of great schools and fast rail links has never been more popular than it is today.

After a succession of closures, residents of the capital have never been more eager to seek out the additional space and surrounding countryside that a move to Harpenden promises.

Real estate agent Ken Whittaker, of Whittaker & Co in Harpenden, said the drive from London has been “bigger than ever before” in recent times. “Who wants a ground floor apartment in Clapham with no garden now? Nobody.”

Property

Harpenden is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK, with the town’s average second-hand sale price last year reaching £ 845,569, according to data from Savills.


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This did nothing to deter the movers, with Nick Ingle of the Savills office in Harpenden claiming the market is the busiest he has ever seen. “The most recent restrictions haven’t done much to slow the pace of the market and demand continues to be phenomenal.


Avenue Rothamsted, Harpenden.
– Credit: Archant

“New sales agreed remain well above the pre-pandemic norm, as do mortgage approvals. The speed at which the sales were closed was also extraordinary. From launching a property to arranging tours, receiving an offer and accepting a sale – in many cases this all happens within a week. ”

Ken Whittaker agrees, attributing Harpenden’s popularity among movers to the “huge lack of supply and demand”, in part because COVID has shone the spotlight on the shortcomings of people’s homes.

“I think a perfect storm is brewing,” he says. “Home schooling, mom and dad working from home, the need for more space, a bigger garden or a home office. Home has never been more important.”

Properties currently for sale in Harpenden include a £ 5million stack on 4.5 acres on Bower Heath Lane and, at the more affordable end of the market, a one-bed ground floor apartment on Beeching Close for £ 220,000.

Trip

Harpenden is ideally placed for commuting; it is seven miles from Luton airport and London St Pancras is just under half an hour by train. The M1, A1 (M) and M25 are also close at hand.


Bowers Parade, Harpenden.  Photo: DANNY LOO

Bowers Parade, Harpenden. Photo: DANNY LOO
– Credit: Photo: DANNY LOO

Schools

Its excellent public schools are one of Harpenden’s main selling points – and although the city is blessed with countless great primary schools, it’s the high schools that really attract punters.

Sir John Lawes, St George’s and Roundwood Park are all rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted, and St George’s was also named The Sunday Times “Full School of the Year” in 2019.


Saint-Georges school.  Photo: Danny Loo.

Saint-Georges school. Photo: Danny Loo.
– Credit: Archant

Newcomer Katherine Warington School opened in September 2019 in response to demand for more places in local high schools.

For residents looking for a private alternative, there are several options. St Hilda’s is for girls ages 4 to 11 (although its nursery admits boys as well), Aldwickbury is a prep school for boys, and The King’s School, with its strong Christian philosophy, teaches boys and girls ages 4 to 16 years old.

Shopping and eating out

The leafy, typically English main street is full of shops and restaurants. In addition to three well-stocked supermarkets, there are many quirky and independent places, offering a variety of food from Thai to tapas.


Leyton Road, Harpenden.  Image: Jane Howdle

Leyton Road, Harpenden. Image: Jane Howdle
– Credit: Archant

Bar Azita’s Mediterranean grill is popular with locals, while Harpenden Arms draws crowds with its fine food and wine.

The White Horse in Hatching Green and The Fox on the northern outskirts of town are two other examples of the great British dining experience.

Guests can dine in the courtyard in Lussmans’ 18th-century former shed overlooking Leyton Green, while the Okka cafe-restaurant is another popular spot, especially for Sunday brunch.

Harpenden also has a lively farmers market on the fourth Sunday of the month. Organized on Bowers Parade, it offers everything from fruits and vegetables to pastries, plants and preserves.

Sports and hobbies

The stunning 238-acre Common of Harpenden supports many of the area’s thriving sports teams, including the Harpenden Cricket Club which has played here for over 150 years.

The Harpenden Carnival and Highland Games take place in Rothamsted, which has a skate park and is also home to the Harpenden Football Club. The municipal swimming pool is adjacent to the park at the Harpenden leisure center.


Even the sign looks chic!  Photo: DANNY LOO

Even the sign looks chic! Photo: DANNY LOO
– Credit: Photo: DANNY LOO

The Harpenden Rugby Club plays at London 1 North, the sixth rung on the English rugby union ladder. Four former players, Maro Itoje, George Ford, Owen Farrell and Jack Singleton – all of whom also frequented St George’s – continued to play for England.

The Nickey Line, a disused railway line between Harpenden and Hemel Hempstead, is a popular spot for walkers and cyclists.

The River Lea runs through the Batford Springs Local Nature Preserve, a great place for kids to paddle through the summer months or play in the park off Marquis Lane.


This regional guide is sponsored by Frost's, which has offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden ...

This regional guide is sponsored by Frost’s, which has offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches)
– Credit: Archant


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