An increasing number of Londoners priced out of the capital are heading towards this leafy Hertfordshire town which offers 26-minute commutes to Kings Cross.
Houses and flats for sale in Welwyn Garden City
If this is a tale of two men it is also a tale of two towns. In 1948, Welwyn Garden City was named a new town and thousands of homes were built to rehouse Londoners whose city lay in ruins after the devastation of war. As a result the town has a supply of early garden city houses and much more affordable modern homes on the outskirts — and a wide range of house prices.
Travel and commuting
Welwyn is on the A1, the Great North Road. Trains to Moorgate take about 45 minutes, while the rail commute to King’s Cross takes about half an hour. An annual season ticket to both costs £2,604.
Mark Shearing, Putterills local lettings manager, says many young professional tenants working in the City or the West End have been driven out of nearby St Albans by soaring rents. They are widening their search further up the A1 and are ending up in Welwyn Garden City.
Welwyn Garden City falls within the AL St Albans postcode. Most of the town falls within AL7 but three wards — Handside, Peartree and the desirable Sherrardspark — fall into AL8. The popular villages of Welwyn, the Ayots, Tewin and Digswell are in AL6.
The area attracts
Estate agent Richard Selwyn, from Putterills, says there is a strong local market with people trading both up and down.
“Often people downsize to the town from larger houses in the villages once their children go to university. The trains go from the middle of town straight into Moorgate, so there is also demand from City workers moving out of London, who come here for the open spaces and greenery — Sherrardspark brings the countryside right into the centre of town.”
With such a wide range of prices there is scope to easily move up and down the property ladder, so families tend to stay.
There is no doubt that the best roads are close to Parkway, the mile-long boulevard which is the best introduction to the town.
This area is known locally as the West Side and the roads include Sherrardspark Road, High Oaks Road, Valley Road and Parkway itself, where the larger Twenties neo-Georgian houses are found.
Panshanger, on the northern edge of Welwyn Garden City, has well-designed modern homes influenced by Span-designed homes of the Sixties. Terrace houses here sell for between £200,000 and £250,000. Panshanger has local shopping, including a Morrisons supermarket, and a park called Money Hole. Locals are fighting plans to build 700 new homes on historic Panshanger Aerodrome.
There are two developments in Welwyn Garden City by Taylor Wimpey with Mirage in the centre of town and Carrington Gardens in the village of Tewin.
Mirage (01707 240 604) in Broadwater Road, is a development of 197 (11 affordable) one- and two-bedroom flats and three- and four-bedroom houses. The second phase of one- and two-bedroom flats launches soon, with prices starting at £147,500. Housing association Hightown Praetorian (William H Brown 01707 324361) has a one-bedroom flat available for shared ownership with the price starting at £36,250 for a 25 per cent share.
Carrington Gardens (01483 909697) in Upper Green Road is a development of 27 (10 affordable through Riversmead) four-, five- and six-bedroom detached houses with prices ranging from £835,000 for a five-bedroom detached house to £1.105 million for a six-bedroom detached house.
Shops and restaurants
The Howard Centre, in the heart of the town, is home to popular high street shops.
The Welwyn Garden City Market, offering farmers produce, food and crafts, is held on the first and third Saturdays of every month in the city centre.
On the outskirts of the town is the 126-acre riverside Stanborough Park. The popular green space has been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award for the past six years and is home to a model boating lake, nature trails, coarse fishing and a restaurant.
Welwyn Garden City has no shortage of primary schools which are judged “good” by the government’s education watchdog Ofsted, and the following are judged “outstanding”: Templewood in Pentley Park; Applecroft in Applecroft Road and St John’s CofE in Lemsford Village.
Two of the three comprehensive schools in the town are judged “good”: Stanborough in Lemsford Lane and Monk’s Walk in Knightsfield.
Private primary and secondary
Sherrardswood School in Lockleys, Welwyn (ages, three to 18) is the sole private school, although others can be found in nearby St Albans:
St Albans High School (girls, ages four to 18); St Albans School (boys, ages 11 to 18 with girls in the sixth form) and St Columba’s College (boys, ages four to 18) and in Harpenden, King’s School (co-ed, ages three to 16); Haileybury (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) near Hertford is a leading boarding school.