The new look London Road
PUBLISHED: 14:34 09 September 2016 | UPDATED: 16:16 09 September 2016
This St Albans road is ever-evolving - and not just in the city centre.
London Road has changed beyond recognition in recent years, with the derelict Odeon and nearby boarded up buildings replaced with such smart establishments as the Odyssey, Prime and Charlie’s café.
The huge, 80-home Gabriel Square development on the former Eversheds site is expected to be finished next year while, closer to town, recently completed change of use developments, Edinburgh House and nearby Keystone House, mean there’s currently no shortage of city centre apartments.
Further out of town, and the part of London Road that starts with the railway bridge is also changing. The Quality Hotel has been demolished, and an assisted living development will soon be replacing it. Plus, what was once a family bungalow is now a purpose-built apartment block…
A family who sold their home to a developer was so impressed with the new apartments built on the site that they bought two of them!
What was once the Tan family’s bungalow is now Abbey Gardens, an Arts and Crafts inspired building housing 11 apartments.
Jun Kim Tan and Yvonne Suk Wan Tan bought their London Road home in the early nineties, and had received many offers over the years from developers keen to snap it up.
The family eventually decided to sell to CALA Homes in 2014, and planning permission was agreed the following February.
Yok Siew Tan, their eldest son, has overseen the process and is delighted with the results.
He said: “The bungalow had been our family home for over 20 years. Before that we lived in a much smaller three-bed house on the other side of St Albans, but when my maternal grandfather became ill overseas we moved to a bigger home so we would be able to look after him and our grandmother. It’s an integral part of Chinese culture to look after your elders and loved ones.
“My mother and father had been approached many times to sell the land for development but had never taken the plunge. After a major illness within the family, my parents decided to look seriously at the various offers they had accrued over the years.
“Thankfully, due to my business background and experience in property development, I was able to help my mother and father through navigate the process.”
The 11 apartments range in size from 858-2,135 sq ft, with each benefitting from a light, contemporary open-plan living space, as well as a private outside area in the form of a patio or terrace. All 11 have now been sold.
Yok Siew describes the result as an “absolute triumph”, adding that the Abbey Gardens apartment building “really suits” the London Road position and “fits in well” with the existing architecture.
“I am really pleased to have chosen CALA Homes,” he adds. “So pleased in fact that we have purchased two properties in the Abbey Gardens development. I have an apartment, but as my mum is the matriarch of the family, of course she deserves the penthouse!”
Named in honour of Eleanor of Castile - and St Albans’ former Eleanor Cross - the assisted living development is in the process of being built on the former Quality Hotel site.
Aimed at the over 70s, Eleanor House will comprise 47 one and two-bedroom apartments, and is expected to launch next year.
Highlights will include a 24-hour estate management team, a table service dining room, a guest suite for overnight visitors and a club lounge for socialising.
Landscaped gardens will surround the development, while a function room will be available to cater for activities with friends and families.
At the heart of the development will be an atrium for homeowners to enjoy the sunlight all year round; there will also be a communal conservatory to maximise light throughout the development.
Elaine Stratford, Regional Sales and Marketing Director for McCarthy and Stone North London, said the developer wanted to choose a memorable name that would resonate with both local residents and future homeowners.
She said: “The name Eleanor House commemorates a beautiful love story. In fact, the first queen of Edward I would perhaps have been completely forgotten over the years had her husband not created such dramatic memorials in her name.
“Although the cross is no longer there after being replaced by a town pump in the 18th Century, it’s lovely that we can recapture a little bit of the town’s history as we build a new addition to the local landscape.”