Area Guide: The Hertfordshire commuter town of Stevenage
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: DANNY LOO
Ample shops and leisure facilities combined with great road and rail links and affordable homes make Stevenage an appealing proposition. We found out more about this ever evolving area.
Stevenage has experienced enormous change in the last 75 years.
Amid the housing crisis that followed the Second World War, the new Labour government passed the 1946 New Towns Act - and what had been a small farming community of around 6,000 people became Britain's first ever New Town.
Today, Stevenage is split into two distinct areas: 'Old Town' and 'New Town'. The smaller Old Town, with its more prestigious period homes, has an attractive high street lined with small shops and historic pubs and is prettier than its counterpart. Beyond the high street is the Grade I listed St Nicholas Church, the ancient parish church of Stevenage.
In contrast, New Town looks and feels like an urban jungle. Built between 1946 and 1980, the area has a more expansive high street with its pedestrian-only areas, and a range of more affordable housing options.
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Work is currently underway to regenerate central Stevenage, and proposals are in place to create new homes, revamp the railway station and build new bars, restaurants, shops and leisure facilities.
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Where property is concerned, it’s another tale of two towns, with the more historic homes in the older part of Stevenage tending to be more expensive.
Properties currently on the market include a four-bed period semi on Julians Road in the Old Town for £750,000 and a two-bed flat in an office conversion in the heart of the New Town for £215,000.
Compared to the likes of St Albans and Harpenden, Stevenage is cheap. According to Rightmove, properties in the town had an overall average price of £304,437 over the last year, up 4 per cent on 12 months ago and 5 per cent higher than the 2018 peak of £291,134.
Most sales were of terraced properties, which changed hands for an average price of £277,029.
Stevenage is dominated by roundabouts and cycleways. The cycle network was implemented in the 1960s and '70s while the town was in its earlier development stages.
Transport options to and from Stevenage are plentiful; the station has connections to major locations such as Cambridge, Leeds and London, with King's Cross just 25 minutes away.
The A1(M), which runs to the west of the town, connects Stevenage to London and the north.
Most schools in Stevenage were built in the 1960s, to accommodate the influx of children coming from London.
Notable primary schools in the area include Woolenwick Infant and Nursery School and Letchmore Infants' and Nursery School, which were both rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted at their last inspections.
'Good' secondary schools include The Thomas Alleyne School, Marriotts School and The John Henry Newman Catholic School.
The town also has a further education and higher education college, North Hertfordshire College ('good'), which is located on Monkswood Way.
Sport and leisure
Stevenage is home to a wide range of sports clubs and facilities.
Stevenage FC compete in league two, the fourth tier of English football. The town also boasts a successful women's football club and a rugby club.
Stevenage Leisure provides a variety of fitness-related options, such as golf, swimming, badminton and activities centred on the gym, while Fairlands Valley Park offers kayaking, climbing and windsurfing.
Locals can also take advantage of the King George V Playing Fields, where regular community events and sports are held, as well as the Town Centre Gardens, which has a pond and play area.
The main retail area in Stevenage is the Westgate shopping centre, housing popular shops such as H&M and River Island, while the Old Town's high street is home to over 50 businesses including many independents.
The Gordon Craig Theatre hosts regular drama and dance productions.
A range of famous faces have called Stevenage home, including England footballer Ashley Young, golfer Ian Poulter, racing driver Lewis Hamilton, novelist E.M. Forster and performance poet John Cooper Clarke.
The city also acts as the set for Channel 4 comedy series Lee and Dean, which is about a pair of Stevenage builders. The show’s writers and stars, Miles Chapman and Mark O’Sullivan, are from the town.