Comment: Is the Evening Standard right about St Albans and Stevenage?

St Albans is "as close to a London village as you'll find outside the capital", says the ES, "but it

St Albans is "as close to a London village as you'll find outside the capital", says the ES, "but it isn't cheap". Photo: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

There’s nothing like looking at the places you know well from an outsider’s perspective, then shaking your head over how wrong they’ve got it.

Living where we do, these opportunities come up frequently, with Hertfordshire towns and cities regularly listed as destinations Londoners looking to leave the capital should consider relocating to.

This time the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property section has named both St Albans and Stevenage as two of the best areas for city-dwelling first-time buyers seeking top schools and new homes away from the big smoke.

A third of first-time buyers who’ve so far fled the capital in 2018 have sought more affordable property in the home counties, the article says, and these are just two of the destinations they’ve been moving to.

The ES couldn’t get enough of St Albans, raving about the “gorgeous cathedral city” which has “plenty of character, a bustling centre and lots of open space nearby”.

But while it’s “as close to a London village as you’ll find outside the capital… it isn’t cheap. First timers with a typical budget are going to be house hunting in the suburbs, which are a bit lacklustre.” A bit lacklustre! The cheek of it.

Stevenage’s suffering is greater, however. The town’s post-World War Two housing is blamed for transforming it “into a badly planned concrete jungle of estates linked by endless roundabouts with a grim pedestrianised town centre”. Ouch!

The New Town regeneration plan is the “good news”, however – though ES readers are warned that they’ll have to wait about eight years for the full £350 million transformation to be complete.

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Do you agree with the “lacklustre” St Albans or “concrete jungle” Stevenage descriptions mentioned here? Let us know what you think of the ES analysis at