Area Guide: The popular Highfield area of St Albans

Highfield Park, St Albans

Highfield Park, St Albans - Credit: Archant

A suburban neighbourhood about two miles south-east of St Albans city centre, Highfield is beloved by residents for its strong community spirit and village-like feel. We found out more about this family friendly part of Herts. 

History

The Highfield area developed rapidly in the late 1990s and early 2000s, following the closure of Cell Barnes and Hill End psychiatric hospitals.

Highfield Park's old hospital building. Picture: Archant

One of the old hospital buildings in Highfield Park that's been converted into housing. - Credit: Archant

The three remaining ward blocks were turned into social housing and homes sprang up on brand new streets such as Princess Diana Drive and Starlight Way. 

Some roads were named after former hospital wards and doctors that worked there, while Puddingstone Drive is believed to have been inspired by 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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Highfield Park

An area of rural walks

Highfield Park offers acres of green space to explore. - Credit: Archant

This lovely green space is popular with dog walkers and cyclists from all over St Albans. It was created after the closure of the psychiatric hospitals, and some of their vast grounds were transformed into what is now the park. 

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The area's many features include 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.

Property

Princess Diana Drive, St Albans. 

Princess Diana Drive, St Albans. - Credit: Google Street View.

The surrounding green space and quiet suburban feel make Highfield a popular spot for young families. 

Homes currently on the market in the area include a £950,000 four-bed detached house with park views on Tillage Close and a two-bed flat within Loyd Court, Russet Drive for £375,000. 

Travel

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 convenience store, a doctors’ surgery, a barbers and a fish and chip shop.

YMCA St Albans community gym offers affordable sports and exercise classes with membership starting at £28 per month, or £18.99 for concessions. 

One YMCA formerly Charters Health Club is a community gym offering affordable sports and exercise

The St Albans community gym on Russet Drive, St Albans, offers affordable exercise for all. - Credit: Archant

Nuffield Health Club, with its pool and spa, is a more luxurious alternative on Highfield Park Drive. 

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.

Schools

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’).

Samuel Ryder Academy. Picture: DANNY LOO

Samuel Ryder Academy, St Albans. - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

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.

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden...

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant


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