Area Guide: The family-friendly Highfield area of St Albans
PUBLISHED: 09:04 22 February 2019
A residential area of St Albans about two miles south-east of the town centre, there’s a lot to like about Highfield. We found out more about this popular place.
The Highfield area as it is today developed following the closure of two mental health hospitals in the 1990s.
It is now a safe, suburban neighbourhood beloved by local residents for its strong community spirit and village-like feel.
The road names in the new developments were chosen by the local authority, with some being named after former hospital wards or doctors that worked there.
One, Puddingstone Drive, is believed to have been named after the puddingstone that now sits outside West Lodge in Highfield Park. The stone used to be located in the garden of Cell Barnes Hospital.
Homes currently on the market in Highfield include a four-bed detached house on Sovereign Park for £785,000 and a two-bed flat on Russet Drive for £305,000.
Only a few minutes by car from the A1 (M) and under two miles from St Albans City station and its fast services to London St Pancras, Highfield has great transport links.
Highfield Park is a lovely green space, popular with dog walkers and cyclists. It was created in 1996 after Cell Barnes and Hill End mental hospitals were closed and redeveloped and some of their vast grounds were then transformed into what is now the park.
The area has many features, including playing fields, a couple of ponds, a tree trail, two orchards and a maze.
St Albans City Youth FC play here, and joggers are regularly seen circuiting the pitches when they’re not in use for matches.
There are also two ‘outstanding’ children’s nursery, Ladybirds, which is located within the park, and Highfield Lane Nursery, on Puddingstone Drive.
Highfield Park Trust manage the area, which also includes two allotment sites.
Events and amenities
Highfield has a bustling selection of amenities on Russet Drive. There is a busy Spar shop, a doctors’ surgery, a barbers and a fish and chip shop.
One YMCA – formerly Charters Health Club – is a community gym offering affordable sports and exercise classes.
Seasonal events that take place locally include bug and Easter Bunny hunts for kids, the annual Apple Day celebration of the park’s own apples, apple juice and cider, and the outdoor Luna Cinema.
Trestle is a mask and physical theatre company based in a converted chapel on Russet Drive. They have a café on site, and host regular events such as the Story Tent craft and story sessions for pre-schoolers.
The Earthworks charity on Hixberry Lane offers training and work experience in conservation and horticulture to local people with learning disabilities. It was established as the hospitals closed, and offers an opportunity for former residents, now re-homed within the community, to find meaningful employment.
Nearby local primary schools include Windermere and Camp (rated ‘good’ by Ofsted) and Cunningham Hill Infants and Junior schools (‘outstanding’).
Samuel Ryder Academy is an all-through school for students aged from four to 18, and was rated ‘good’ at its last inspection. Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School was also rated ‘good’.