St Albans' most prestigious roads revealed
PUBLISHED: 13:05 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:13 12 October 2017
Singling out just a handful of streets and labelling them as St Albans' most sought-after seems a tricky task given the strength of the competition.
Local agents agree that four roads are unquestionably the city’s finest however, and they’re all in the same part of town.
Between Sandpit Lane and Marshalswick Lane are Homewood Road, The Park, Faircross Way and, arguably the best of this very desirable bunch, Marshal’s Drive.
“It has always been known as the best road in the town,” says Jamie Reynolds, senior branch manager, Hamptons. “This is predominately because it’s got four of the best houses in town, one of which has just sold. It’s ‘the house’ in St Albans. The others are adjacent to it on that side of the road.”
The property Jamie’s talking about is Wick House, a stunning home set in around three acres that went on the market again earlier this year.
Great schools, spacious plots and proximity to the station add to the appeal of all four roads and, not surprisingly, none of this comes cheap.
There is only one property currently for sale on Marshal’s Drive, a four-bed detached home priced at £1,895,000.
Faircross Way has two houses on the market, priced at £1,795,000 and £1,875,000, while The Park has three, on at £2.4m, £2.5m and £6m. Yes, 53 The Park, the luxurious seven-bed, eight-bath new-build with hydraulic car lift, and arguably the most talked about house in town.
So who typically buys these sorts of homes? “A lot of the London lawyers,” according to Jamie. “It’s a combination of St Albans people - business owners, people who’ve done well - and people coming in from outside, primarily from north London - Islington, Muswell Hill, Crouch End - suburbs where their £1.5m-£2m buys them a lot more here than it does there.”
Few locals would consider properties on The Park and its surrounding streets affordable but, as Jamie explains, it’s all a matter of perspective.
“Imagine you were living in a three-four bedroom Victorian villa in West Hampstead that’s worth probably £1.2-1.3m - for £3-400,000 more you’re buying yourself a very nice detached house in a leafy tree-lined road. That would get you the same house in West Hampstead but with a basement.”
Schools remain a huge issue, and this part of St Albans is renowned for its excellent state secondaries. St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS), Sandringham and Beaumont are all rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, while boys’ school, Verulam, is rated ‘good’. They’re always over-subscribed though, so buying close to your school of choice is key to securing a place.
“If you live in St Albans you don’t have to go private,” says Jamie. “A lot of the London people like that.
“In London you’ve got a stark choice: you might live in a really nice area but the local school might be dreadful and therefore your only choice is to shell out £15k per child on private education.
“People buying in these streets tend to go private anyway, but a lot of them will go state because the schools are so good.”
Of course, one person’s perfect is another’s perfectly average, and this part of town isn’t for everyone.
Stuart Cassidy, director of Cassidy & Tate - agents for 53 The Park - says that while Marshal’s Drive may consistently be named as the top street in town, it isn’t without its drawbacks.
“People that live on The Park would not live on Marshal’s Drive,” says St Albans-born Stuart. “They say that they find it a bit of a cut-through. It’s quite a busy road. People queue in Marshalswick Lane at the traffic lights so they come round the back up Marshal’s Drive.”
He adds: “People that live on the Park are generally a bit older, it’s more old school money. Marshal’s Drive is more about what looks good, it’s a showy road.”
These are obviously not the only prestigious streets in town, and Jamie adds that the roads immediately south of this exclusive enclave are similarly sought-after; Battlefield Road and York Road stand out in the area that spans upwards from Clarence Park to north Marshalswick.
He also mentions the old conservation area, between Fishpool Street and Verulam Road, as another prestigious part of town.
“There are some special houses around there,” Jamie says. “You’re close to the Abbey, it’s very much quintessential St Albans.
“You’d look at that area per se and say it’s all cottages; it’s mostly smaller houses but big ones as well. I sold something down there for £1.8m, on Mount Pleasant. There was a lovely detached that backed onto the Brickie that went for £2m.
“It’s not like Marshal’s Drive where you’ve got detached next to detached, but a lot of people prefer the town centre, the more central stuff.”
Stuart agrees, saying: “Some of our clients who live in the city centre live there because that is actually where they want to live, not because that is where they need to live [for schools].”
But reputations stick, and while there are some stunning properties hidden away off Hill Street and its neighbouring roads, larger properties are plentiful north-east of the town centre, meaning more choice for house hunters with money to spare.
And for now at least, Marshal’s Drive, Homewood Road, The Park and Faircross Way remain the most prestige streets in town.