We take an exclusive look around Gabriel Square, St Albans’ most exciting new development
- Credit: Archant
The most prestigious city centre development St Albans has seen in generations has finally opened its doors to the public - and the Herts Ad was first inside for a sneak peek.
Gabriel Square - the name comes from one of the bells in the Clock Tower - is an iconic mix of townhouses, apartments and duplexes on a three acre site bordered by London Road, Alma Road and Victoria Street, and just a few minutes walk from that all-important railway station.
There’s still a lot of work to be done on the site, including the centrepiece garden square, and it’s not expected to be finally completed until next spring, but a show home opened today to offer a taste of what to expect.
It’s been furnished by designers Conran, with an attention to detail which borders on the obsessive, as nothing is left to chance, even down to the choice of books on the shelves.
But when you’re in the business of selling properties which start at almost half a million pounds, there’s no reason to cut any corners.
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The initial impression when entering is one of light and space, and a very European feel. Despite the restricted width of the home, the high ceilings, open plan design, wide doors and generous amount of natural light means it never feels cramped.
It’s also an example of a proper smart home, with touchpoint control over lighting, heat, blinds, music and security (the smart tech is from Wheathampstead company Webstract while the security has been installed by local firm Amthal Fire and Security). You can even “set the scene” in a specific room, for example subdued lighting when watching a movie.
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The kitchen has been designed by another St Albans company, Poggenpohl, with the all-essential island in the centre of the room freestanding so it can be positioned according to individual requirements.
It’s the little things which made us smile - USB outlets on plugs, a “media cupboard” where you can hide away your Sky Box, the bespoke towel hooks in the bathrooms... Even the washing machine is located close to the bedroom space, so you don’t need to cart your laundry down several flights of stairs.
Flexibility is key, so one downstairs room can be a guest bedroom, a play room, a gym or a home office. All we saw was one suggested layout, but there are many other options according to individual needs.
A roof garden offers spectacular views of the Cathedral and Clock Tower, while a spacious outdoor garden is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast in the sun.
Underground parking has been incorporated as part of the overall scheme, so you can drive straight up to the door of your property in complete privacy - perfect for any professional footballers looking for a city centre pad!
Steve Walker, managing director of estate agents Collinson Hall, has been instrumental in the creation of the Gabriel Square vision over the past few years.
He is justifiably proud of what has been achieved: “People think they know this site - but they really don’t until they come for a look around.”
Set in a natural bowl, the developers took advantage of the topography of the site and created five floor properties which are actually no taller than their neighbours in Alma Road.
The development will be privately maintained by the occupiers, rather than the council, meaning it does not have to conform to rigid guidelines for lighting, and allowing for a more sophisticated and interesting approach outdoors.
Private viewings of the show home can now be booked by appointment, but there is an open day this Saturday from 10am-5pm if you just wanted to drop in for a look around.