Comment: Why a St Albans/Stevenage hybrid might just be the perfect place

Stevenage residents have Aldi, Primark and Asda on their doorstep - all of which are absent in St Al

Stevenage residents have Aldi, Primark and Asda on their doorstep - all of which are absent in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Last week’s column about St Albans and Stevenage, as seen through the eyes of the Evening Standard, evoked quite a reaction.

Both places had been hand-picked by the Homes & Property section as examples of areas London-based first-time buyers might want to take a look at, on account of their good schools and short commutes.

But their verdicts weren’t entirely flattering, with a few criticisms being made of Stevenage’s “concrete jungle” estates and St Albans’ “lacklustre” suburbs.

Fair enough, I thought – neither place is perfect. And it makes a change for an article about St Albans especially to be a little less than gushing for once. It’s not all cathedral views and lovely walks by the (sometimes stinky) lake, as any local will testify.

Some readers took the criticisms to heart, however, speaking passionately in defence of their home town.

One felt strongly that Stevenage had been unfairly represented by the paper (and me! – though the views weren’t mine on this occasion).

As someone who writes about property on a daily basis, I feel we must cut the ES some slack. It’s impossible to know every place inside out, and when you’ve only got a couple of hundred words to play with, it isn’t possible to provide an in-depth analysis.

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And, personally, I can see the good in both of these Hertfordshire heavyweights. If the ES had had another hundred words, they could have mentioned many more of St Albans’ ‘outstanding’ schools, the amazing range of pubs, restaurants and – but of course – cafes, and the Museum + Gallery – as divisive as that may be.

In contrast, Stevenage offers its famous cycling routes, vastly more affordable housing and great shops - the people of St Albans can but dream of having a Primark, an Aldi and a giant Asda.

The best of both of them might just make my perfect place.