Commuter watch: Hertfordshire tipped for house price growth

House prices in Hertfordshire have already risen by 11 per cent in a year, but first-time buyers and second steppers can still find value.
With the froth coming off London’s property market experts believe the strongest price growth over the next few years will be in the home counties, as buyers priced out of the capital venture beyond the M25.

The big beneficiary is likely to be Hertfordshire, where prices have already risen 11 per cent in a year according to the Land Registry, comfortably outdoing Surrey (9.5 per cent), Essex (7.8 per cent) and Kent (8.1 per cent).
With average prices standing at £273,672 it’s great value for money for first-time buyers and second steppers. So where should you look?


Best for country bumpkins: Aldbury
The lovely, traditional village of Aldbury is set within open farmland on the doorstep of the National Trust-owned Ashridge Estate, a 5,000-acre tract of the Chiltern Hills with woods, common and downlands. It’s a hikers’ and bikers’ paradise, with wild deer and spring bluebells, while golfers are well served with local clubs.
Aldbury has a gastropub, The Greyhound, as well as the more traditional Valiant Trooper, along with a primary school rated “good” by Ofsted, and a village shop. The nearest station is at Tring a mile and a half away, and trains to Euston take from 35 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,756.
Village bliss comes at a price. Oliver Beales, a partner at Knight Frank, says the starting price in Aldbury would be £400,000 to £450,000, for a pretty two-bedroom terrace cottage. Family homes with four or five bedrooms cost £800,000 to £1 million.

Best for bargain hunters: Bovingdon
Less expensive Bovingdon, 10 miles south of Aldbury, has two-bedroom cottages for about £250,000 and family homes at £500,000 to £600,000. It has a library, a primary school rated “outstanding” by the government watchdog, a high street with a few useful shops, and three pubs. Trains from Hemel Hempstead, four and a half miles away, take from 26 minutes to Euston, and a season ticket costs £4,756.

Best for families: Hertford
There are three key reasons for families to target the market town of Hertford — its trio of excellent state senior academy schools.
Simon Balle and The Sele School, both mixed, have a “good” rating from Ofsted, as does the Richard Hale boys’ school. If you live towards the north-east of town you may also be within the catchment of Presdales School, for girls, in the adjacent town of Ware, and fee-paying parents have plenty of choice led by Haileybury.
Schooling aside there is plenty for children in Hertford. Green space is provided by Hertham Common, with its sports centre and skate park, there is an annual children’s book festival, and the Castle Hall Theatre has kids’ films plus plenty of music and dance clubs for them to join.
Teenagers will probably appreciate the vintage stores, independent fashion shops and coffee bars in the town centre, as well as the live music and comedy at the Corn Exchange — while simultaneously bemoaning the lack of nightclubs and bars.
Their parents, meanwhile, will be interested in the town’s array of gastropubs and restaurants. For fine dining, head to Auberge du Lac, eight miles away. Hertford also passes the Waitrose test.
There is plenty of choice for commuters. Trains to King’s Cross take from 39 minutes, and there are services to Moorgate and Liverpool Street which both take around 50 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £2,416.
Entry price would be around £150,000 for a one-bedroom flat, and family houses close to the sought-after senior schools start from around £350,000 for three bedrooms, ranging to around £2 million for a five or six-bedroom house in immaculate condition and with a really spacious garden.

Best for city style: St Albans
Stroll along Market Place, St Albans, on a Saturday morning and it is easy to imagine yourself in Upper Street or Northcote Road — the market stalls, high-end chains, boutiques and coffee shops are all here. The heart of this lovely cathedral city can hold its head up against any affluent London village.
St Albans’ commuter appeal is clear, with trains to St Pancras International taking from 20 minutes, and you can be at London Bridge in under 40 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £3,208.
And while it is one of the more expensive options within Hertfordshire, compared to London prices it represents excellent value for money. A one-bedroom flat within walking distance of St Albans station would cost about £220,000, and a two-bedroom Victorian cottage would sell at about £330,000. Families could buy a Thirties semi for about £600,000 or a classic four-bedroom townhouse for £800,000.
The north-east side of town is the most popular thanks to high-performing Sandringham, Beaumont and St Albans Girls’ state schools, with a catchment area premium of about 15 per cent.


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