Area Guide: The ever-popular Highfield area of St Albans
- Credit: Archant
A mostly residential area with acres of green space, Highfield is a family friendly area about two miles south-east of St Albans city centre. We found out more about it.
The Highfield area as it is today developed following the closure of two mental health hospitals in the 1990s.
It is now a safe, suburban neighbourhood beloved by local residents for its strong community spirit and village-like feel.
The roads in the new developments were chosen by the local authority, with some being named after former hospital wards or doctors that worked there.
One, Puddingstone Drive, is believed to have been named after the puddingstone that now sits outside West Lodge in Highfield Park. The stone used to be located in the garden of Cell Barnes Hospital.
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This lovely green space is popular with dog walkers and cyclists from all over St Albans. It was created in 1996 after Cell Barnes and Hill End mental hospitals were closed and redeveloped and some of their vast grounds were transformed into what is now the park.
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The area has many features, including playing fields, a couple of ponds, a tree trail, two orchards and a maze.
St Albans City Youth FC play here, and joggers are regularly seen circuiting the pitches when they’re not in use for matches.
Highfield Park Trust manage the area, which also includes two allotment sites.
Homes currently on the market in Highfield include a couple of terraced properties – a two-bed on Housefield Way for £465,000 and a three-bed on Lynch Court for £585,000.
These sorts of homes are usually marketed as being situated in “the popular Highfield Park development”, with much being made of the surrounding green space and quiet suburban feel.
A short drive from the A1 (M) and the M25 and under two miles from St Albans City station and its fast services to London St Pancras, Highfield benefits from great transport links.
Events and amenities
The shops on Russet Drive are the go-to for Highfield residents, with a busy Spar shop, a doctors’ surgery, a barbers and a fish and chip shop.
One YMCA – formerly Charters Health Club – is a community gym offering affordable sports and exercise classes with membership starting at £28 per month.
Seasonal events that take place locally include bug and Easter Bunny hunts for kids, the annual Apple Day celebration of the park’s own apples, apple juice and cider, and the outdoor Luna Cinema.
Trestle is a performing arts centre based in a converted chapel on Russet Drive. They have a café on site, and host regular classes such kids’ ballet lessons and bounce fitness for adults.
The Earthworks charity on Hixberry Lane offers training and work experience in conservation and horticulture to local people with learning disabilities. It was established as the hospitals closed, and offers an opportunity for former residents, now rehomed within the community, to find meaningful employment.
There are many popular schools local to Highfield, including Windermere and Camp primaries (both rated ‘good’ by Ofsted) and Cunningham Hill infant and junior schools (‘outstanding’).
Then there’s Samuel Ryder Academy, an all-through school, which takes children from age four to 19. SRA replaced the failing Francis Bacon School in 2012, and has gone on to achieve a ‘good’ Ofsted ranking. Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School was also rated ‘good’.
There are also two ‘outstanding’ children’s nurseries, Ladybirds, which is located within the park, and Highfield Lane Nursery, on Puddingstone Drive.