Comment: Londoners love Hertfordshire, but do Herts folk love them back?
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All the publicity surrounding St Albans’ new Gabriel Square development got me thinking about just how many current residents arrived in Herts via London – and how few native Hertfordshire folk I know locally.
I spent five years in Clapton (just off the Murder Mile), Whitechapel (flatmates included an ovenful of mice), Elephant & Castle (around the time the famous shopping centre went from pink to red) and, finally, Forest Hill. Forest Hill is a pleasant part of south east London which almost everyone seems to have not heard of, despite it popping up regularly on Location, Location, Location as, er, a place almost everyone hasn’t heard of. They usually like it, though, once Kirstie and Phil have sold it to them. After the mice/murder dramas of other London areas, this less hectic part of Zone 3 was my ideal transition to suburban Hertfordshire.
Ex-Londoner friends have made the move from the more salubrious likes of Chiswick, West Hampstead, Stoke Newington, Islington and King’s Cross, most of them seeking an extra bedroom and a bit of outside space, usually with at least one toddler in tow. Most of them (like me) weren’t from London originally, and were looking for better VFM outside the M25.
With London prices becoming ever more ridiculous, Herts housing can seem almost bargainous by comparison. Less so for those of us who have witnessed the incredible increases in recent years, mind.
What’s interesting now that we’re all comfortably ensconced here in Herts is that some of us now see new London in-comers as something to fret about.
There’s a sense of resentment in some quarters that those targeting the likes of Gabriel Square with their warped, capital-dwelling sense of what is and isn’t a reasonable amount to pay for a property, are helping prices reach even more astronomical levels in St Albans.
“They come here with their big London salaries, stealing our school places…” Hypocricy? Maybe. It’ll be interesting to see what proportion of this particular development sells to locals… I’m guessing it won’t be very high. A friend who lives close by quipped that it “might bring up our prices” so, for those lucky enough to own, it could be a good thing. For those still struggling to get that first foot on the ladder, not so much.