Happiness is... living in St Albans says new survey

ST ALBANS has been ranked as one of the top 10 places to live in the UK according to the latest Quality of Life survey by Halifax.

The comprehensive annual report examines all 405 local authority districts and ranks performance across a number of key indicators including housing, environment, education, crime rates and health.

St Albans was ranked in seventh place in a list dominated by areas in southern England. In fact, just four of the top 50 were from outside the south.

Key figures for the district include an employment rate of 74.6 per cent, average gross weekly earnings of �890, an average of five bedrooms per house and a burglary rate of 33.1 per 10,000 people.

The survey also showed that residents enjoyed 1,599 hours of sunshine throughout the year and an average annual rainfall of 706mm.

Cllr Julian Daly, executive leader of St Albans District Council, said: “St Albans City and District is a great place to live with low unemployment and good schools. We would probably have come even higher in the survey if factors such as culture and history had been taken into account.

“The quality of life here in the district is good. We are surrounded by the Green Belt and are also blessed with a large number of green spaces, including Harpenden, Bricket Wood and Nomansland Commons, and parks, such as Verulamium Park. In addition, there are plenty of activities locally for people to enjoy, from sport to theatre. There is also a good social cohesion in the district and people seem to care about their neighbours.”

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However, the survey has raised some concerns about the future of life in St Albans.

Resident Vanessa Gregory has cited particualr problems with the housing market.

“This usually comforting, annual, well-being survey should come with a health warning,” she said. “Well being in St Albans comes at a high price.

“Since the mid seventies, young people born in the area have found it harder and harder to afford to buy a home of their own here. Renting nowadays can be just as expensive as having a mortgage.

“It has always been assumed that older people are sitting pretty on a pile of money in their bricks and mortar.

“However, unless they sell they cannot help their children find a deposit for a home and increasingly I fear older people will have to sell to pay for the falling returns on their pensions.

“We could end up with a very unbalanced society in St Albans, with fewer places for lower income people of all generations.”

Hart in Hampshire was ranked as the number one place to live in the survey followed by Elmbridge in Surrey and Wokingham in Berkshire.