A guide to home insurance

Posted on March 4 2016 by

Homes are expensive buildings, designed to protect expensive things. Whether you live in a studio, a three-bed semi or a country manor - yours will be full of valuable possessions that you trust are safe. What if something were to happen, though?

Just imagine your property was hit by flooding; could you afford to replace your damaged possessions? How about the building itself? A compromised wall is an expensive problem to fix. And even if a repair was feasible, where would you stay in the meantime? The costs can add up pretty quickly.

This is why it's important to have...

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A guide to planning permission and regulations

Posted on February 29 2016 by

Home improvement is something we all consider at some point, and for good reason. It's a great way not only to adapt your house as your needs change, but to increase its value for when the time comes to sell up and move on.

Unfortunately, you can't just go straight out back and start building an annexe - there's a lot of preparation involved in these things. Perhaps most importantly, the project must be legal; you have to consider the government's various rules and regulations around building.

What is planning permission?

Put simply, planning...

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What to look for during a property viewing

Posted on February 25 2016 by

On the face of it, viewing a property seems like a pretty simple act; you go, look around and work out whether what you see fits in with what you're after. In reality, though, there's a lot of pressure. You have limited time to make what is essentially a life-changing decision - this, after all, is likely to be one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make.

The key is to go in prepared, knowing exactly what you're looking for. With a list in hand, you can tick things off as you go, making sure you've covered everything. But what do you include on said list? The...

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Five tips for finding your next home

Posted on February 19 2016 by

Finding somewhere new to live, while exciting, can be a pretty tough thing to do. Sure, there are loads of options to consider, but there's also so much at stake - namely a great deal of money and your long-term happiness. It's one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make. No pressure then!

The road between looking for a home and picking up the keys may well be a little bumpy, but there are ways to make it through with your wits intact. Below, we've put together a few tips to help you on your upcoming property hunt.

Know what you're looking for

...

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2016 stamp duty changes: Everything you need to know

Posted on February 9 2016 by

Stamp duty, as you may already know, is a tax payable when you buy a property or land for more than a certain price in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The current threshold for residential properties is £125,000, or £150,000 for non-residential purchases.

The amount added will depend on the price and type of building or land you're going for, but the fee will be expected shortly after completion. In fact, you must submit a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return to HMRC within 30 days - though this is usually taken care of by the solicitor or agent, who will simply add...

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Barton-Le-Clay: A property Census

Posted on December 16 2015 by

The small village of Barton-Le-Clay is situated in Central Bedfordshire, between the larger towns of Bedford (11 miles to the north) and Luton (six miles south). Running through Barton, you'll find Bedford Road, which provides residents with all of the amenities they need on a day-to-day basis - things like pubs, restaurants, shops and hotels.

Those living in Barton-Le-Clay also have easy access to a number of bigger cities, including Oxford, Cambridge and London, via the nearby A1. It's possible to catch a train from Harlington railway station too, which is just three...

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A Hatfield property Census

Posted on December 9 2015 by

Hatfield is a picturesque town and civil parish located in Hertfordshire. At just over 22 miles from London, it's great for commuters - London Euston is just a 30 minute train ride away. Families settle well in Hatfield too, thanks to its wide range of amenities, as well as its rich history and culture. One weekend you could take the kids to explore the estate of Hatfield House, the next you may decide on a trip to the nine-screen cinema.

The town also boasts a range of fantastic schools, shops (including an outlet shopping mall) and...

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Ashwell: A property Census

Posted on December 7 2015 by

The small village of Ashwell sits right at the top of Hertfordshire, just five miles north of Letchworth Garden City. Home to little more than 1,500 people, it's quaint and quiet - making it particularly popular among homebuyers in search of a peaceful place to live.

Ashwell's rich history has plenty to offer for inquisitive visitors and residents alike. The village itself boasts a wealth of architecture from various eras, and a short wander southwest will take you to Arbury Banks, the ruins of an ancient hill fort believed to have been built in the Bronze Age.

...

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Welwyn property Census

Posted on December 1 2015 by

Sometimes known as Old Welwyn, this quaint village is situated to the north west of the larger town of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. Welwyn is home to around 3,200 people at the last census, with the civil parish encompassing the villages of Digswell and Oaklands.

A pretty village, Welwyn offers idyllic rural life on one hand and excellent travel connections on the other - with the A1(M) providing a direct route to Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. Trains to the capital take around 26 minutes from North Welwyn station, which is just a five minute drive from the...

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Biggleswade: A property Census

Posted on November 12 2015 by

The market town of Biggleswade is situated on the River Idel, around halfway between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, and fewer than ten miles southeast of Bedford.

It is thought that Biggleswade and its surrounding areas have been called home by people for thousands of years, with some local archaeologists claiming to have unearthed artefacts from as far back as 10,000 BC. These days, the town's population is growing quickly. The 2011 census put the figure at 16,550 - up ten per cent in as many years.

A great place to be

It's not difficult to...

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A Royston property Census

Posted on November 3 2015 by

Hertfordshire's Royston is a peaceful town and civil Parish - not to be confused with the bizarre setting of BBC black comedy show 'League of Gentlemen' (the fictional Royston Vasey, located somewhere in the Pennines). Only 43 miles north of central London, Royston is situated on the Greenwich Meridian with a population of around 16,000.

An affluent area, Royston hasn't noticeably suffered from shop closures and other economic problems impacting similar regions. The high streets and supermarkets are thriving, perhaps due to the fact that the town's economy...

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Stotfold: A property Census

Posted on October 27 2015 by

Situated on the edge of Bedfordshire, close to the Hertfordshire boundary, Stotfold is a small and quaint town that's called 'home' by little over 7,500 people. That said, the population continues to grow as more properties and amenities are gradually introduced.

Stotfold has long been known as an affluent area, and even today features highly on so many property hunters' priority lists. First and foremost, it's a peaceful and interesting place to be, with plenty of fascinating history.

What's more, easy access to the A1...

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A Kimpton property Census

Posted on October 21 2015 by

The small but growing village of Kimpton in Hertfordshire is less than a mile long and has a population of around 2,000 people. If you are looking for a place that carries with it all of the benefits of rural village life, you'll find it in Kimpton.

The strong community spirit that many hope for in this type of setting can be seen through the numerous clubs, organisation and local events hosted in the village, such as the annual May Festival which sees the whole village come together as one.

Families are served by the popular primary and nursery school, while those aged...

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Harpenden: A property Census

Posted on October 14 2015 by

Situated in northwest Hertfordshire, Harpenden is a popular town that has no trouble attracting new residents. A part of the City of St Albans district, it's home to around 30,000 people at present, but its popularity is growing quickly among London workers looking for somewhere quieter and cheaper to retreat at the end of each day in city.

This trend is largely attributable to its proximity to the capital, but also the extensive transport options on offer. There are, for example, frequent and speedy rail links to St Pancras International, with journeys taking just 23 minutes....

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Stevenage: A property Census

Posted on September 22 2015 by

Designated a new town in 1946, Stevenage is situated around 30 miles north of central London. Its population has been growing steadily over the years, and now stands at just over 84,000.

The town is made up of a number of different areas, with property in the Old Town and Great Ashby areas particularly sought after. The former is the original Stevenage, and was expanded into what we see today after World War II.

With Old Knebworth close by, residents have plenty of green space to explore, but that's not to say Stevenage doesn't have natural elements of its own. Many...

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An Ampthill property Census

Posted on September 21 2015 by

Ampthill, a small and charming historic market town, sits among the Bedfordshire countryside, between the larger towns of Luton and Bedford. With just over 7,000 residents, the town retains its charming village feel despite being in an ideal location for commuting to bigger cities.

Ampthill is known for its regular market, which takes place every Thursday in the town centre. The longevity of this event is remarkable in itself, as...

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Knebworth: A property census

Posted on September 2 2015 by

Mention 'Knebworth' to most people and they'll think of massive rock concerts involving artists like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Queen and Oasis. For those who live in the area, though, it's more than just the location of the UK's biggest open-air music venue - it's a quaint village with a rich history and a huge range of things to see and do.

Situated immediately south of Stevenage, Knebworth is home to just over 4,000 people, meaning it's a relatively quiet place to live. That said, it only stretches a couple of miles from top to bottom, so space is...

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A Letchworth Garden City property census

Posted on August 25 2015 by

An innovation in development and planning, Letchworth Garden City was the world's first Garden City and remains one of the UK's most desirable locations in which to live. Just over a century old, it was designed as a solution to the squalor of urban life in early 1900s Britain.

Garden Cities, like Letchworth, combine the very best of urban and rural living. Residents enjoy a strong community feel, beautifully...

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Luton: A property Census

Posted on August 12 2015 by

The large town of Luton is situated less than 30 miles from central London in Bedfordshire. It's not just this proximity to the UK capital that attracts house-hunters, though - the country's sixth busiest flight hub, Luton Airport, is also located nearby.

Beyond this, residents have easy access to the M1, which takes drivers all the way to Leeds in the north of England, as well as a number of major train services heading in all directions from Luton Railway Station.

A range of properties on offer

Luton is a diverse place containing all manner...

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Cambridge train station set for revamp and direct link to Oxford

Posted on July 28 2015 by

Cambridge rail station could soon benefit from a £4.25 million redevelopment scheme, as well as improved routes to Oxford.

A rail link between the two illustrious university cities has long been mooted but could now become a possibility, after a Network Rail study put forward two potential routes. The East-West link could pass through either Hitchin or Sandy, after these were identified as the best value for money options.

The opening of such a route would not be for many years yet, as the plans are just assessing the issue before an Initial Industry Plan is published...

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Revolutionary regeneration plans for Stevenage approved

Posted on July 24 2015 by

A framework for the regeneration of Stevenage town centre has been given the green light, clearing the first hurdle on the road to full approval.

The revamp plans, named 'Stevenage Central', position the railway station as an integral part of the town centre. Such a move wouldn't just make Stevenage great for visitors but also give locals improved transport links to London King's Cross, Cambridge and Peterborough, among others.

Elsewhere, a wide variety of shops and leisure providers are being courted to make Stevenage a "destination town centre". These...

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A Bedford property Census

Posted on July 24 2015 by

Bedford is a popular town, set in picturesque surroundings along the River Great Ouse. With a vibrant multicultural population, a university, and a thriving business community, the town of Bedford is an excellent choice for families, older couples and buyers of all demographics.

The delightful town centre is full of character and hosts an arcade of independent shops, regular markets and winding backstreets to be discovered. In addition there are also plenty of high street shops and great restaurants on offer.

Found in one the UK's smallest counties, Bedfordshire,...

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A Cambridge property census

Posted on July 16 2015 by

Cambridge is perhaps best known as home to one of the world's most prestigious universities, but the city has a whole lot more to offer than just education. Cultural delights exist in abundance here, with literature, art and music events taking place throughout the year. Sports are just as popular, with football, cricket and rugby all represented by historic clubs.

With direct trains running to London's Kings Cross station every 30 minutes, and Stansted Airport just 20 minutes away, Cambridge is well connected both nationally and internationally. It's partly for this...

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Letchworth movie fans to enjoy screenings under the stars

Posted on July 10 2015 by

Film fans in and around Letchworth Garden City will soon be able to enjoy outdoor screenings of three classic pictures.

From Friday August 14 to Sunday August 16, Broadway Cinema will show the films 'Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'Mamma Mia!', and 'Back to the Future' on successive nights in its gardens, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

With screenings starting when the sun goes down around 8:30pm each night, the setting is sure to be perfect. The films are all PG rated, so the whole family can attend.

It's...

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Osborne's Budget introduces tax break cuts for buy-to-let landlords

Posted on July 8 2015 by

Buy-to-let landlords looking to build on their property portfolios will soon have the amount of tax relief they can claim capped at 20 per cent, following George Osborne's Budget announcement today (July 8).

The Chancellor said this move is intended to level the playing field for homebuyers and investors, theguardian.com reports. By reducing tax relief down from up to 45 per cent to a 20 per cent cap, Osborne claims the government can "support homeownership but act in a proportionate and gradual way".

Landlords still have time to capitalise on higher tax...

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Letchworth and Welwyn: Why England’s first garden cities remain the most desirable

Posted on June 30 2015 by

People living in the hustle and bustle of a big city often think that the grass is greener on the other side (figuratively and literally) - the other side being to live in the countryside amongst the beauty of nature. But living out in remote settings, regardless of their beauty, is not for everyone; many crave regular interaction from a close-knit community.

Combining the best of both worlds was a method of urban planning originally initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in his book 'To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform'. Howard wrote of self-contained communities...

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North Hertfordshire set for 16,500 new homes

Posted on June 29 2015 by

More than 16,000 homes are to be built across North Hertfordshire over the next 16 years.

In a bid to cope with growing demand for housing in the area, North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) had intended to create 14,200 new properties by 2031. However, the target has now been adjusted to 16,500.

Much of the extra demand is thought to have come from nearby Luton, as it grows and thousands of residents look to the surrounding areas for their next homes.

The announcement is the latest in a saga that has attracted as many supporters as it has opponents, after it...

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A Baldock property census

Posted on June 24 2015 by

The historic market town of Baldock in North Hertfordshire has the benefit of being comfortably close to the larger modern garden city of Letchworth, while retaining its own distinct character. It differs to its neighbour due to its notable historical architecture.

A popular commuter town, Baldock has excellent transport links thanks to fast rail links and the A1 motorway running straight past, making it ideal for those working in Cambridge, Kings Lynn or London.

Different types of property

Over the past 12 months the majority of property sales comprised of...

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Unemployment in Hertford falls dramatically

Posted on June 18 2015 by

In just a year, unemployment in Hertford has dropped by more than 35 per cent, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed.

In fact, Hertford's fall in unemployment is the biggest in the country. The number of people on Jobseeker's Allowance has dropped 6.52 per cent a month. Now, just 1.2 per cent of all Hertfordshire's residents are claimants, reports hertfordshiremercury.co.uk.

The figures are good news for residents across the entire county, as the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance also fell in East Herts, from 1,048 in...

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More than 2,700 drinkers turn up to Hitchin Beer and Cider Festival

Posted on June 16 2015 by

This year's Hitchin Beer and Cider Festival was a huge success, as 2,700 people turned up to sample the delights on offer.

The festival, which is in its third year, proved so popular that stalls ran out of beer by late Saturday afternoon. Jon Kirby, the festival's organiser, said that attendees had to move on to cider and perry once the beer ran out, but those eventually sold out too.

"It was such a fantastic atmosphere over the three days which helped to make a fantastic event," he noted. "We sold 7,000 pints of beer in less than three days - and our total number...

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Plans for new St Albans museum and gallery to go on public display

Posted on June 12 2015 by

An architect's plans to transform a St Albans building into a new museum and art gallery are to be displayed in an exhibition open to members of the public.

Visitors will be able to view designs by architects John McAslan and Partners, who will be submitting a planning application later in the summer. The idea is to encourage discussion and gather feedback on the plans for the old Town Hall transformation so that the application can be improved, stalbansreview.co.uk notes.

The plans show how the new museum and gallery will look if the project is given the...

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Hitchin Festival to include more than 100 events

Posted on June 11 2015 by

More than 100 events are lined up for the month-long Hitchin Festival, which kicks off on June 22.

Two Shakespeare plays will be performed at the town's Queen Mother Theatre on the first day of the event, and a range of activities will take place until July 26, when a live music festival brings the fun to a close.

A number of festival favourites will be making their return this year, including Derek Wheeler's Ghost Walks on July 1, July 8 and July 14, and the Priory Picnic with music and fireworks on July 5. Steve Richards, a national newspaper columnist, is one of...

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A Hitchin property Census

Posted on June 10 2015 by

The historic market town of Hitchin is popular with commuters due to its proximity to London. The town is a bustling with plenty going on, but remains close to the countryside for those wishing for a slower pace of life than that in the big smoke.

Like much of the country, house prices in Hitchin have risen over the past year, which is unsurprising since it is such a desirable area in which to live. However prices have not skyrocketed like they have in London, rising four per cent over the past year, lower than the national average of

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Music line-up for Stevenage Day announced

Posted on May 28 2015 by

The musical line-up for this year's Stevenage Day, which shows off the town's talent, has just been announced.

Space Goat, Guns of Anarchy, Roxy Searle, The Defekters and Mark Sullivan will all play the main stage on Sunday June 14. On the second stage, which consists of acoustic performances, visitors can see a variety of singers and songwriters, including Mike Mirfield, Sarah Ashley, Daisy Lewis and Andy Soper, reports hertfordshiremercury.co.uk.

Those looking to see something a little bit different should check out the main area, where the likes of the...

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Inspiring garden festival comes to Cambridge

Posted on May 15 2015 by

The Chelsea Fringe Festival is set to arrive in Cambridge this weekend, with youngsters across the city encouraged to get involved in the gardening fun.

The event, designed to make gardening more appealing to younger audiences, will run from tomorrow (May 16) until June 7 in various towns and cities. During this time, public spaces across Cambridge will be taken over with horticultural displays, workshops and more. Other highlights include a floating island and a virtual garden.

The team behind the festival has also been working with the under-used library garden to make an...

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Life expectancy on the rise in Bedford

Posted on May 13 2015 by

The life expectancy of people in Bradford will have risen almost six years by 2030, new figures show.

The research, based on data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), highlights the average life expectancies for both men and women in the area, using advanced mathematical modelling.

It predicts that life expectancy for Bedford men will increase from 80.9 to 86 years, while women will see an increase from 84.7 to 88 years, reports bedfordtoday.co.uk.

The growth figures for Bedford are above the national average for both genders, which are 79.5 to 85.7...

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St Albans schools commended for fantastic GCSE results

Posted on May 8 2015 by

The student bodies at five schools in the St Albans area achieved such excellent GCSE results in 2014 that they have now been commended by the Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT).

As part of its annual in-depth analysis of official Department for Education data on all state-funded schools in England, SSAT has recognised Loreto, Roundwood Park, Beaumont, Sandringham, and Sir John Lawes schools as some of the country's most successful.

All five place in England's top 10 per cent of non-selective schools when it comes to students achieving high average...

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Stevenage Walking Festival reaches its third year

Posted on April 30 2015 by

The annual Stevenage Walking Festival begins this weekend (Saturday May 2), with local residents celebrating its third year.

More than 30 varied walks can be explored for free with other fellow ramblers during the festival, which runs until May 10. The organisers hope that the event encourages people to come outside and get some exercise, as well as socialise with other locals. There are walks suitable for every ability, with a choice of long, medium or short outings, reports thecomet.net.

The long walks span 14 miles, whereas the shorter options cover between four...

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Labour leader weighs in on Stevenage regeneration scheme

Posted on April 27 2015 by

Labour leader Ed Miliband has promised to lend a "sympathetic" ear to local campaigns, such as the Stevenage town centre regeneration scheme.

In an exclusive interview with hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, Miliband was asked whether he would back the regeneration scheme, as well as campaigns for a new cancer unit at Lister Hospital and the widening of the A1(M) if he became Prime Minister.

Whilst responding that it wouldn't be right to make lots of promises, Miliband said that Stevenage Labour candidate Sharon Taylor is making a "compelling case" for the...

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How do I get the highest offer on my property?

Posted on April 24 2015 by

There's plenty you can do as a seller to help you achieve the highest price possible for your home. From aesthetics to tactics, preparation is certainly the key when preparing your house for sale. Arming yourself with knowledge - and perhaps a paintbrush too - will help you hit your financial target.

Presentation and staging

The presentation of your house can do a huge amount in helping with the perceived value of the property. There are lots of ways, some of them quite small and inexpensive, in which you can increase your chances of gaining a higher asking price....

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Majority of Hertfordshire children awarded a place at their preferred school

Posted on April 21 2015 by

An increasing number of children are being placed in their first choice of school in Hertfordshire, new figures from the County Council reveal.

Some 14,408 out of the 15,267 applications for reception places received by the Council were allocated a ranked school and a further 12,425 were given a place at their first choice of primary. This means 255 more pupils were placed in their preferred school, even though the number of applications rose by 392, reports hertfordshiremercury.co.uk.

Children who are not awarded a place at their preferred school will be put on a...

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Why rent a rural property?

Posted on April 17 2015 by

So you've decided to take the plunge and move out of town to the countryside? In that case you already know many of the laudable benefits that make rural life such a draw. Therefore, choosing a house and specific location will likely be the next items on the agenda.

Weighing up what you want from a property alongside location is key; whether it's a sizeable plot of land to begin that sustainable living dream, or space to start a family - it's very likely that compromises may have to be made. When moving to the countryside, location is everything. Just how rural do you...

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Hitchin "one of the safest towns in North Herts"

Posted on April 16 2015 by

Despite the town's popular social scene, Hitchin is "one of the safest towns to police in North Herts", according to chief inspector Julie Wheatley.

Earlier this month, chief inspector Richard Harbon told thecomet.net that officers find Hitchin harder to police than its bigger neighbour Stevenage. However, inspector Wheatley says this is not true and police figures show that from April 2014 to February 2015, only 30 public order offences were recorded in Hitchin, compared to 38 in Stevenage.

"I'm really proud to police in Hitchin and North Herts," she...

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Hitchin music festival confirms 1980s chart-topping headliners

Posted on April 9 2015 by

The annual Rhythms of the World music festival in Hitchin has announced this year's headline acts.

Original Band Aid opener Paul Young and his Americana backing band Los Pacaminos will be hitting the main stage, as well as one-time Specials front-man Neville Staple and India's top live performer Raghu Dixit, hertsad.co.uk reports.

Young topped the UK charts for three weeks in July 1983 with his cover of Marvin Gaye's 'Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)', performed at Live Aid, and sang the opening lines to the original release of "Do...

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Stevenage West housing development gets go ahead for 3,600 new homes

Posted on April 8 2015 by

Land to the west of Stevenage is all set for a major residential development that will provide thousands of new homes in the area.

After back and forth disputes spread out over 12 years regarding building on the land, North Herts District Council (NHDC) has now earmarked the site - which can be accessed via Meadway in Stevenage - for development. Plans are now being drawn up to build 3,600 new homes, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

Disagreements regarding a housing development began between Stevenage Borough Council and the neighbouring NHDC and Hertfordshire...

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Renting vs buying in and around North Hertfordshire

Posted on April 2 2015 by

Moving to a new area is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking.  Whether it’s for work, retirement, or just a change of scenery, there are different things to consider when deciding if you should rent or buy, and it can be hard to not let your feelings get in the way of the process.

Is your deposit big enough to buy? Are you planning to stay in the area for a long time? Is your new job permanent or temporary? Have you lived in the area before? These are all things that will inform your decision regarding your next home.

North Hertfordshire isn’t short...

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Hertfordshire goes Hollywood as it attracts more film and TV shoots

Posted on March 30 2015 by

Hertfordshire's ten district councils have signed a new film-friendly charter which will result in more film and television producers choosing to shoot in the county.

Alongside the county council, the charter has been launched in partnership with Creative England - a body dedicated to helping the country's creative industries flourish. The move means great things for the local economy, with the film business bringing £8.6 million to Hertfordshire in 2014 alone, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

All filming requests will now be dealt with swiftly and...

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Multi-million pound museum could be built in St Albans town centre

Posted on March 27 2015 by

St Albans Town Hall could soon become the local area's cultural hub, as plans have emerged to build a £7.75 million museum there.

The hall, which was designed by architect George Smith in 1831, will be revamped by John McAslan & Partners. It will create a walkway around the building to allow visitors to see outstanding views of the medieval city, historic clock tower and cathedral, reports bbc.co.uk. The entrance will also be updated.

Annie Brewster, cabinet member for heritage at St Albans City and District Council, said that ever since the Grade II...

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What to look for in a renovation job

Posted on March 24 2015 by

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it", they say - but where's the fun in that? For many of us, an old house - neglected, dilapidated, and down on its luck - is a far more appealing commodity than a spick and span, ready-to-go abode.

Doing up a run-down home lets you really put your own stamp on it. Always wanted an en-suite bathroom or walk-in wardrobe? Here's your blank canvas. On the other hand, some people just want to pick up a bargain, spruce it up and get it on the lettings market as quick as possible. Either way, renovation properties can be a great...

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Popular skate park to receive £75k expansion

Posted on March 12 2015 by

A popular skate park in Waltham Abbey will be expanded thanks to a joint £75,000 fund from Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council.

Designs for the new park are yet to be finalised, but once they are they will be given to the district council for approval. The new look will be revealed to the public in June at the Waltham Abbey Town Show, reports hertfordshiremercury.co.uk. Currently, the park offers skaters a kinked half bowl and a street section with rails, blocks, bank hip and a quarter pipe.

The park originally opened in 2011 after the old...

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Nearly all Herts children receive place at preferred secondary school

Posted on March 4 2015 by

The vast majority of children in Hertfordshire (around 95 per cent) will be attending one of their preferred choices of secondary schools this September, new figures show.

Parents found out on March 2 which school their child will be attending later this year via email. Anyone who did not provide an email or made their child's application in writing will be sent a letter instead.

The number of applications increased by more than 400 compared with the same time last year. Despite this, 12,488 children will be enrolled at one of their preferred schools and 78 per cent of...

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Hertford town centre rejuvenation project kicks off this week

Posted on March 3 2015 by

A new phase in the revitalisation of Hertford's town centre is getting underway this week, as retailers in the area begin to share their thoughts on how things could be improved.

As part of a £100,000 study that will attempt to shine some light on things the council and landowners could do to improve the local area, all nearby retailers will fill out a questionnaire. Bircherley Green, Maidenhead Street, and The Marquee in Railway Street are just some of the areas included in the study, led by East Herts District Council in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and...

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How to maximise rental income

Posted on March 2 2015 by

A financially successful landlord needs to find the perfect balance between keeping tenants happy and making a profit. If you neglect your tenants' requests or qualms whilst happily collecting their money each month, they might move out and your profits will drop. But then again, is it really financially viable for you to redecorate every time a new tenant moves in just because they don't like the colour scheme? Of course not.

However tricky it...

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Hertfordshire schools celebrate amazing GCSE achievements

Posted on March 2 2015 by

Three schools in Hertfordshire have been recognised among the best in the country by the government, which has congratulated them on their amazing achievements in GCSE results for 2014.

Presdale School in Ware received a letter from Schools Minister David Laws, who praised its accomplishments in being part of the top 100 non-selective state schools in England for GCSE results.

Richard Hale School in Hertford was also listed as one of the top 100 non-selectives schools in the UK for its results, as well as one of the 90 most improved in terms of GCSE grades. Moreover, Freman...

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Thameslink promises improved service for St Albans commuters

Posted on February 20 2015 by

St Albans commuters can look forward to smoother journeys, as Thameslink bosses have announced a massive redevelopment operation to improve its service.

London Bridge Station will undergo work that will allow more trains to pass through it, so the current three trains an hour in the morning from St Albans will double to six in three years' time. A dedicated track and platform from Blackfriars to St Albans will also be in place by 2018, hertsad.co.uk reports.

Thameslink spokesperson Roger Perkins commented on the improvements, describing the impact as...

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Hertfordshire school expansions create more capacity and jobs

Posted on February 19 2015 by

School expansions are being announced all over Hertfordshire as primary schools begin to present their proposals to councillors.

Holwell Primary in Welwyn Garden City, Forres Primary in Hoddesdon, and Prae Wood Primary in St Albans are three of the schools that have so far been confirmed for extensions, as part of Hertfordshire County Council's school expansion programme.

The capacity for pupil admissions at Holwell Primary will double in size over a seven-year period, rising from 210 currently, to 420, whtimes.co.uk reports. A new two-storey classroom block is...

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Which home survey is right for me?

Posted on February 17 2015 by

When buying a home, we often feel we're going in blind. Sure, the property you've made an offer on looks fine, but who knows what problems it's hiding from you? That small damp patch on the ceiling could turn out to be a major mould problem, or the boiler might be on the way out. Home surveys are there to inform us of any possible problems, so our concerns can be put at ease.

Despite this, many homebuyers choose not to take out a survey, and the cost is dear. More than a fifth of buyers who don't take out a survey are left stuck with a home they would not have...

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Standon Calling festival announces Dandy UK exclusive headliner

Posted on February 16 2015 by

A Hertfordshire music festival has revealed its third and final headline act - a band making a UK exclusive appearance.

US rock and roll group The Dandy Warhols will headline the Saturday night at Standon Calling - an annual music festival which began back in 2001 as nothing more than a birthday barbecue. In the intervening years it has grown into a three-day extravaganza bringing visitors, musicians and a great deal of investment into the local area. This year's event takes place from July 31 to August 2.

The Dandy Warhols, most famous for the song 'Bohemian Like...

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Business class-only Luton to New York flights resume after seven years

Posted on February 4 2015 by

After a seven-year break, business class-only flight services from London Luton Airport to New York are to resume in April.

The service, which is operated by French airline La Compagnie, will run flights four times a week. However from June, the airline hopes to increase the number of flights to six a week. A total of 74 passengers will travel on the Boeing 757 aircraft, reports bbc.co.uk. Fliers will also be able to enjoy in-flight entertainment via a Samsung tablet.

La Compagnie will offer introductory fares of just £1,007 for two passengers and £649...

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Living in Bedford

Posted on January 30 2015 by

The county town of Bedford has plenty to offer both visitors and permanent residents. Situated in the heart of its county (Bedfordshire), and close to some of the UK's most important towns and cities, it's a great place to be for anyone in search of great housing options, exciting employment opportunities and constant cultural stimulation.

Bedford has all of the ingredients needed to make a fantastic residential town: great transport infrastructure; a range of schools and colleges; plenty of useful shops; and a wealth of interesting attractions and scenery. Let's take...

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Stevenage curry named 'the best ever' by former EastEnder

Posted on January 30 2015 by

An Indian restaurant and takeaway in Stevenage Old Town has been bestowed the honour of making "the best [curry] I've ever eaten" by former 'EastEnders' actor Shaun Williamson.

Surma Takeaway and Spice Rouge on the Old Town high street is led by head chef Oli Khan, a previous winner of 'Curry Chef of the Year' at the National Curry Chef Championships. Khan personally invited Williamson to try his food after the actor complained on Twitter of not being able to find a "decent curry" in Stevenage, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk notes.

...

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University of Hertfordshire sees application increase

Posted on January 30 2015 by

The University of Hertfordshire is fast becoming a popular place to study, as the institution has seen its applications increase significantly, new figures from the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reveal.

Applications to study at the university, which is located in Hatfield, have risen by 8.23 per cent compared with the previous year. The latest round of applications saw nearly 27,000 people register to attend the university, a new record, and an increase of 2,049 from 2014's figure of 24,900, reports herts.ac.uk.

Ian Campbell, deputy vice...

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Hertfordshire regeneration schemes receive £22.3 million boost

Posted on January 29 2015 by

Hertfordshire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will receive £22.3 million extra funding, which will be used to support a number of regeneration schemes within the county.

This extra funding is on top of the £199.2 million awarded in 2014. Included in the package is a £12.5 million grant to the LEP's Growing Places Fund, reports insidermedia.com. Not only will the money help fund renovation projects in South Oxhey and Bishops Stortford, it will also be used to construct hundreds of new homes, support businesses, create jobs and improve skills...

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Michelin-starred chef presents Letchworth GC gastro pub with fine dining award

Posted on January 27 2015 by

A village pub in Letchworth Garden City has been ranked one of the best in Britain for fine dining, after being presented with an award by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

The Fox at Willian is listed as one of the top 50 gastro pubs in The Publican's Morning Advertiser Budweiser Budvar Awards 2015. Kerridge, who won his first Michelin star in 2005 and second in 2012 for his own...

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Luton best 'city' for superfast broadband coverage

Posted on January 21 2015 by

Living in Luton offers the best chance of securing a superfast broadband connection, as almost 90 per cent of its postcodes have access to speedy internet, the 2015 Centre for Cities report reveals.

The report, which is described as an "annual health check of the largest cities and towns", shows that Luton tops the charts when it comes to superfast broadband. Around 88.9 per cent of its residents are able to enjoy internet speeds of 30Mbps or faster, reports broadbandchoices.co.uk.

Luton is one of seven southerly cities and towns which feature in the top ten list....

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Living in Luton

Posted on January 20 2015 by

A town full of history, Luton a thriving area with a vibrant, multicultural community nestled in the beautiful Chiltern Hills. Noted recently as one of the best places to live, the town has many desirable features including affordable living, green spaces and great amenities.

With a population of around 258,000, Luton ranked in the top ten places to live according to the 2014 Centre for Cities report. Evaluating large towns and cities in the UK, places were ranked on everything from life satisfaction and house price growth, to education and jobs. Luton, which ranked at number...

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Letchworth secondary school to undergo £15 million rebuild

Posted on January 15 2015 by

A secondary school in Letchworth is to undergo a multi-million pound redevelopment, after plans were given the green light.

Initially, the scheme was rejected by the North Herts District Council planning committee. However, a year later, the decision has been overturned by a planning inspectorate decision. The entire school building is to be demolished, apart from the sports hall, reports thecomet.net.

As well as a brand new school building, the scheme will include car parking, a multi-use games area and hard and soft surface play areas. Head teacher Ian Morris...

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Cambridge to benefit from 400 new homes

Posted on January 14 2015 by

Countryside and Hill have won contracts from Cambridge University to build residential housing on the North West Cambridge development.

The delivery of 400 new homes is expected to be complete by 2016, as part of the development's first phase. It will also include 700 university key worker homes. All will be designed responsibly, meeting the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5.

These new homes will be integrated into the Sustainable Urban Drainage System. This includes the UK's largest non-potable water recycling system and the district heating network, and will make...

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Great Denham nursery named one of the UK's best

Posted on January 9 2015 by

A nursery in Great Denham, Bedfordshire, is celebrating after it ranked top-five in the individual category at the 12th Nursery Management Today (NMT) awards.

The Toybox Nursery on Saxon Way also won the award for Nursery Website of the Year, beating stiff competition including that of a national chain with over 100 nurseries. The NMT awards have been handed out annually since 2003 and are considered the premier awards in the UK nursery sector.

Chris Townson, director at Toybox Nursery, told befordtoday.co.uk how proud the entire Toybox team was to be commended so...

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Ware shopping district to benefit from £120k improvement fund

Posted on January 2 2015 by

Shops on Ware's Baldock Street which are said to have had no major financial investment for almost four decades are now going to benefit from a £120,000 cash injection.

Eight owners of the street's buildings will each receive a grant of up to £5,000 to put towards the repair and general maintenance of their shops. One local described the buildings as "gorgeous and beautifully old", but stated that as it stands they need some work done and a bit of "tender loving care", hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

The £40,000 East Herts District...

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Stevenage to benefit from science jobs boost

Posted on December 19 2014 by

Up to 150 jobs will be created by a new £55 million cell therapy manufacturing centre, which is being built in Stevenage.

The centre will be built on the Stevenage Bioscience campus site by Cell Therapy Catapult, reports bbc.co.uk. Business secretary Vince Cable, who welcomed the plans, said this facility will allow Britain to become a "real leader" in this industry.

"This therapy is at the very cutting edge of medical research, and is using our own cells in the fight against life-threatening diseases including cancer," he stated. "Supporting British...

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New developments in Baldock and what they mean for the housing market

Posted on December 16 2014 by

Development in Baldock has been a contentious subject over the past few months, with the district council proposing a potential flurry of new developments for the town.

Currently in a consultation period running from December 18 - February 6, the formal plan will be prepared next year. The current draft sets out the district's housing requirements until 2031, as part of the government's targets. The area's target now stands at 12,100, including 3,414 in and around Baldock. There are nine sites allocated in total, including one at the Blackhorse Farm to the north of the...

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Cambridge streets some of most exclusive in the UK

Posted on December 15 2014 by

Nine out of ten of East Anglia’s most expensive residential streets are in Cambridge, new data shows.

The research from Lloyds looked at which streets in the UK generate the highest house prices. Regency Street in London tops the list, with the roads in other areas of the capital popping up throughout the list. However, addresses outside of London also showed some lofty prices, reports

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RICS: Stamp duty reforms may boost housing market

Posted on December 12 2014 by

George Osborne's surprise cut to the stamp duty could boost the housing market by up to five per cent over the next year, according to surveyors.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said on Thursday (November 11) that the Chancellor's announcement could reverse the slowdown that has cooled surging price growth, reports theguardian.com.

House prices are currently growing at the slowest pace in more than a year but it's hoped these changes will go a long way to improving the market. With a marked decline in new buyers' enquiries and...

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An exploration of the stamp duty reforms

Posted on December 4 2014 by

In Wednesday's Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne revealed one of the biggest financial surprises of his career so far - a huge reform to stamp duty. So secretive were the changes that solicitors up and down the country - taken as much by surprise as everyone else - stayed open through the night to rush through some completions and delay others, depending on the property value in question.

With the dust having now settled and greater details of the reform having been revealed, what exactly does this change mean for property buyers?

What are the...


Buntingford aims to be sustainable town of the future

Posted on December 4 2014 by

Buntingford has grand plans to become a sustainable town of the future within the next four decades.

Members of the public packed out a recent town meeting to give their views on how the town should look in 2050. The collaboration was set up to explore ways Buntingford could become a so-called 'transition town'.

Transition towns are grassroot community projects that seek to build resilience in response to climate destruction, peak oil and economic instability. Following the 'transition model', towns pledge to become more self sufficient by engaging the...


Why Hitchin should be at the top of your house-hunting list

Posted on November 28 2014 by

In the last few years, the north Hertfordshire town of Hitchin has fast become something of a commuter hotspot. It's now normal to find it atop lists of the best places for London workers to escape the capital's astronomical house prices and constant bustle. First Capital Connect, which operates many of the trains in the area, even claims the number of people regularly travelling between Hitchin and London is growing by around seven per cent a year.

It's not just Londoners who have reason to prioritise Hitchin for their property search, though. The town has plenty to...


Hitchin town centre named one of the UK's hottest high streets

Posted on November 28 2014 by

Hermitage Road in Hitchin has been named as a hotspot for shoppers, with footfall on the increase, new research shows.

Visitors to the street has increased alongside three other key shopping areas across Hitchin, with the amount of shoppers up by an average of eight per cent, according to the Hitchin BID footfall survey. The area has also been listed in the top 20 per cent of the UK's 500 best places to shop.

Hitchin High Street had also enjoyed a five per cent increase in footfall, while Bancroft had a 1.5 per cent rise in visitors, thecomet.net reports.

...


Why a move to the countryside might be for you

Posted on November 28 2014 by

To many a city dweller, the idea of swapping metro systems and constant bustle for a quiet life in the country might sound a little crazy, but it's a move that more and more people are deciding to make. By looking at the latest statistics, it seems that improved transport links and lower property prices have been enough to quell many peoples' concerns.

According to researchers at insurance firm NFU Mutual, more than 100,000 people are packing up and making their way from the city to the countryside every year - all to reap the various rewards on offer.

Value...


Cambridgeshire to welcome world's first rotating house

Posted on November 24 2014 by

The world's first folding house could be built in Cambridgeshire next year, designers say.

The revolutionary home changes according to the seasons; rotating to follow the path of the sun. Thought to cost around £2 million to build, the structure has been designed by London based architects D*Haus.

Although a specific location hasn't been confirmed, D*Haus told itv.com that the innovative building will be in Cambridgeshire and that its team would be "looking at submitting a planning application early next year".

Named D*Dynamic, the house is...


Announcement expected on garden cities in Cambridge area

Posted on November 14 2014 by

Nick Clegg has indicated that plans for a new generation of garden cities between Cambridge and Oxford could be announced within weeks.

The area has been highlighted as a prime spot for developments by the Deputy Prime Minister. He said there was no way out of the housing crisis other than by building more homes, with properly-planned garden cities the best way to avoid lengthy planning disputes, reports oxfordmail.co.uk.

It's thought further details will be set out in George Osborne's Autumn Budget on December 3. Cambridge and Oxford have been pinpointed...


Stevenage earmarked for new housing developments

Posted on November 3 2014 by

More than 500 new homes could be built in Stevenage on a site currently occupied by a Matalan store and three car parks.

The 3,066 square metres of retail space, which is located near Danestrete, could be replaced by 526 flats, 1,670 square metres of new retail space and 109 basement car park spaces - 87 fewer spaces than there are currently. A statement submitted to Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) for Intercounty Properties Limited noted that the Matalan building is "poor quality and does not add positively to the character of the area."

Some 345 of the homes will have two...


New secondary school in Harpenden gets closer to approval

Posted on October 27 2014 by

Plans for a new secondary school in the City of St Albans have moved one step closer to becoming a reality after an application was submitted to the Department for Education (DfE).

Hundreds of local parents have put their weight behind the idea of a new secondary school in the town of Harpenden, as it will help to create more choice for families and relieve some of the pressure on school positions in the area.

Harpenden currently only has three secondary schools - Sir John Lawes, St George's and Roundwood Park. After gauging interest from parents, figures included in...


Hertfordshire emergency services bolstered by £700k grant

Posted on October 22 2014 by

Hertfordshire's emergency services are set to be improved after being given a cash injection of £700,000.

In a bid to support collaboration between the county's fire, police, and ambulance services, the grant - which is Hertfordshire's share of a national £75 million fund - will help develop a more efficient frontline for 'blue light' services.

The fire transformation fund was unveiled last year, with the 37 winners announced on Monday (October 20). Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority will now work with the council to develop on-call fire...


Hedgehog interruption could save land from developers

Posted on October 15 2014 by

An unlikely pitch invader brought Hitchin Town's non-league game with Arlesey Town to a halt on Monday night - none other than a bemused hedgehog.

This errant hedgehog hasn't just interrupted a football game, however, but could have unwittingly had a major impact on local town planning. This is because members of the Hitchin Football Club are now hoping their new spiky friend could help with the campaign to save their 150-year old ground from supermarket developers, reports mirror.co.uk.

The hedgehog interrupted the game an hour in to play. A linesman tried...


Listed building development in Hoddesdon approved

Posted on October 9 2014 by

Plans to convert a former Conservative Club and Grade II listed building in Hoddesdon have now been approved.

Stanborough House on Hoddesdon High Street is expected to be turned into three luxury flats, a restaurant and a shop. The project also includes similar conversions to the building next door, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

In a meeting last night (October 7), the planning committee approved the development, stating several conditions that must be met. As the building is Grade II listed, its grand carved oak staircase must be protected, as well as a room...


Ice rink will remain in Hertfordshire for next ten years

Posted on October 3 2014 by

The last remaining ice rink in Hertfordshire will stay in the borough for at least the next ten years, thanks to investment from Dacorum Borough Council and the Tesco Pension Fund.

Over the coming months, Hemel Hempstead's Leisure World complex's ice rink will undergo a major £400,000 refurbishment. It will be run by Planet Ice, the current operator of the rink, reports heart.co.uk.

Planet Ice's managing director, John Neville, said the rink will be closed from October 12, but will open again in spring 2015 after the revamp.

Council leader...


House prices in St Albans outpace London

Posted on October 1 2014 by

St Albans in Hertfordshire has been revealed as Britain's 'top property performer', with average values rising at a faster annual pace than in London, according to a Nationwide report.

Although average values across the UK dipped by 0.2 per cent between August and September, prices in St Albans rose by an impressive 24 per cent over the past 12 months. The average home in the area is now valued at £479,497.

Cambridge has also performed well, with its 21 per cent annual increase bringing the average property price to £423,904, dailymail.co.uk...


Tech City calling - Google expands in the big smoke

Posted on September 29 2014 by

'Tech City' is expanding, as more and more big companies make their homes in London. With many Brits enjoying a relatively easy commute to the 'big smoke', workers can have the best of both worlds; country living and their dream job. Commuting to London from Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire has never been easier, with typical train journeys taking less than an hour during peak times and delivering the commuter directly into Kings Cross in the heart of London.

From 2017, Kings Cross will become even more desirable as a commuter location when Google moves in....


Bedfordshire restaurant retains Michelin Star for fourth year running

Posted on September 29 2014 by

The only Michelin starred restaurant in Bedfordshire has retained its prestigious accolade for the fourth consecutive year.

Paris House, a fine dining restaurant in Woburn - just a half hour drive from both Luton and Bedford - remains the most celebrated restaurant in the region having once again secured a spot on the list of one-star establishments outside of London, bedfordtoday.co.uk reports.

The restaurant, located within the picturesque Woburn Estate's 22 acres, was first included in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland back in 2011, which happened...


Hertfordshire council takes up new levy to support local infrastructure

Posted on September 22 2014 by

New developments in the Hertsmere borough could face charges according to a new initiative, which will help fund local infrastructure.

Hertsmere Borough Council will become the first authority in Hertfordshire to make use of the new Community Infrastructure Levy, reports borehamwoodtimes.co.uk. The scheme will involve charging new developments to help fund public services.

The levy, based on pounds per square metre of floor space is intended to give more certainty to developers on how much they will need to contribute towards the costs of infrastructure, according...


Yields vs. capital growth: What to consider for buy-to-let

Posted on September 19 2014 by

When looking to invest in a buy-to-let property, there are two revenue streams that command the most attention; yield and capital growth. Both are important factors and, as a potential buyer, you will need to decide which is most important for you. However, many people can get too caught up on the yields, when in reality there are other factors which should be taken into account. We look at here the importance of factoring in capital growth when making your decision.

Yield

Yield is the amount of money a landlord can make from their tenant(s), looked at over...


New guides revealed for future Central Bedfordshire developments

Posted on September 18 2014 by

Central Bedfordshire Council has released new guidelines to ensure high standards for all future developments in the area.

The guide sets out advice which will cover all of the 31,000 new homes and 27,000 new jobs proposed for the area by 2031. These have been implemented to keep up with population growth and the new plan aims to ensure high standards of design are followed throughout, reports biggleswadetoday.co.uk.

The Council's advice sets standards that ensure homes and gardens are of a decent size and can be adaptable to changes in needs and lifestyles. It...


Cambridge Water hailed as top performer

Posted on September 16 2014 by

Cambridge Water has been named as one of the best performers in an annual report by the Consumer Council for Water.

The report, which looks at the number of complaints received by water companies across the UK, saw complaints about Cambridge Water fall by 38.1 per cent, according to cambridge-news.co.uk. The provider, which supplies to the city and the surrounding area, saw a drop from 279 in 2013 to 167 this year.

Many of the complaints lodged were about billing and charges, with a total of 120,000 complaints to water firms last year, reports...


Bancroft Recreation Ground renovations not dead yet

Posted on September 12 2014 by

Plans to renovate Bancroft Recreation Ground in Hitchin could soon be back on the table after first being derailed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A loan request worth £110,600 submitted by the North Herts District Council (NHDC) was refused back in July, with a meeting on the decision scheduled in for later this month. Not willing to wait, however, chair of the Hitchin Bridge Club Margaret Eddleston took matters into her own hands and submitted a freedom of information (FOI) request to the Heritage Lottery Fund in a bid to find out exactly why plans were rejected.

...


New skate park grinding its way to Stevenage

Posted on September 2 2014 by

Stevenage Borough Council has revealed its plans to build a brand new skate park for the younger generation - and the young at heart.

The announcement came following a poll of Stevenage residents to choose one of two possible locations for the skate park: King George V Playing Fields and Hampson Park. Those who cast their vote eventually decided upon Hampson Park in what turned out to be an almost unanimous decision, as the site polled 97 per cent of the votes, reports thecomet.net.

Funding for the skate park was secured through the New Homes Bonus. Now, focus will...


Hertford becomes latest town to get 4G coverage

Posted on August 29 2014 by

EE has brought its 4G service to Hertford, making it the latest town in Hertfordshire to receive superfast mobile internet access.

The introduction of 4G means that residents and visitors to Hertford with a 4G-enabled device and an EE contract can now enjoy superfast speeds when browsing the internet or reading their emails. It will also make it easier for people to download large files or watch HD videos on the go without having to face the prospect of a lengthy wait.

Stevenage, Ware, Watford, Welwyn GC, St Albans, Harlow, Cheshunt and Hatfield all already have EE 4G...


The importance of downsizing

Posted on August 28 2014 by

As peoples' lives change over time, so do their property needs. The things that were once vital may not always be important, and new factors enter the priority list. This is perhaps why it's so normal to hear of homeowners choosing to downsize, especially when they reach certain stages of life.

Moving out of a house that contains so many memories and ultimate familiarity can be difficult, but it's rare that the decision to downsize isn't justified in the long term. In fact, the benefits are often realised sooner as well as later. This is why it's so important...


Hitchin: A commuter's paradise

Posted on August 22 2014 by

For great primary and secondary schools, a rustic town centre, prime property and a quick commute, buyers and renters should look no further than the quaint, leafy market town of Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Close links to the capital and a pleasant, historic locale makes Hitchin an ideal area for just about every demographic. A gorgeous 13th-century parish church still stands in the old part of Hitchin, sitting comfortably next to old-style inns and tree-lined avenues. Meanwhile, trendy cafes sell homemade cakes and lattes, offering a decidedly more modern coffee culture vibe to the...


Crossrail extension would shorten Hertfordshire to London commutes

Posted on August 8 2014 by

A possible extension of the Crossrail service to Hertfordshire would shorten London commutes by as much as 16 minutes.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that an extension of the Crossrail service to Hertfordshire is under consideration. He explained the benefits of such an extension at the Crossrail site in Farringdon, reports bbc.co.uk.

If the plans go ahead, some pressure will be taken off the busiest sections of the Tube network, which will make it easier to improve Euston station. As part of the High Speed 2 (HS2) project, 11 new platforms will...


East Herts housing proposal approved after initial refusal

Posted on July 31 2014 by

Planning officials from East Herts Council have turned their backs on its previous decision by giving the green light for more than 100 new properties to be built in Hertford.

The plans were originally submitted by Redrow Homes back in August 2013, but were rejected on the grounds that the suggested parking facilities breached council guidelines.

According to Redrow Homes' Catherine Duff, the company took the refusal feedback on board before adjusting its proposal. Once built, the new estate will now comprise of 58 two-bed flats, 45 one-bed flats and four houses,...


Analysing the impact of Help to Buy

Posted on July 23 2014 by

Help to Buy, a government scheme designed to help buyers make their first step onto the housing ladder and stimulate house building, has split British opinion down the middle. Some hail the scheme as an effective way to boost the construction industry and economic recovery, while others believe the scheme has distorted the market.

However, what cannot be ignored are the facts and figures that demonstrate the scheme's performance so far.


Letchworth town centre redevelopment includes 47 new flats

Posted on July 18 2014 by

North Herts District Council's planning control committee has just approved an application for the construction of 47 new flats and two shops, as part of the Letchworth town centre redevelopment.

Two vacant shops in Leys Avenue will be demolished to make room for a brand new unit with flats above, while a disused office building, known as Commerce House, will be converted into a block of flats and have a third floor added under the plans.

Another store unit will be constructed on Leys Square, over which more flats will be built, according to...


The London property market - how is it affecting the Country Properties network?

Posted on July 15 2014 by

Not a day goes by without the news broadcasting a story on London's fast-rising property values. In the last 12 months, if figures are to be believed, prices in the capital have increased by nearly 26 per cent, something not experienced since 1987.

How is this upward trajectory affecting areas outside London - specifically in the neighbouring home counties of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire?

The popularity of 'fancy' suburbs

Recent...


Millions to be invested in Hertfordshire over next few years

Posted on July 9 2014 by

Hertfordshire is set for a major cash injection as part of a "Growth Deal" planned over the coming years, it has been announced.

The government has confirmed that £53.3 million will be invested in new developments within the county in 2015/2016, with a further £146 million expected over the years that follow.

Key features of the Hertfordshire Growth Deal include plans to build thousands of new homes and relieve congestion by making major improvements to transport links, reports hertsandessexobserver.co.uk. It is also predicted that some 13,000 new jobs...


British film industry boosted by Warner Bros studio expansion

Posted on July 3 2014 by

Warner Bros is increasing the size of its Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire, which is where the famous Harry Potter films were made.

Three new sound stages will be making their way to the site, with 100,000 square feet of office space also set to be created, reports variety.com. Currently, the new 'Tarzan' film is being shot at the studio. Production work on the title, which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Margot Robbie, began this week (June 30).

Two of the three new buildings will span 17,000 square feet each and the third will be slightly bigger at 35,000...


New 62-bed ward to open at Lister Hospital in July

Posted on June 26 2014 by

A new ward at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, which has room for up to 62 patients, will open in early July.

The ward will consist of an Acute Medical Unit (AMU), which aims to help people who have been referred to hospital by their general practitioners (GPs), and an Acute Cardiac Unit (ACU) for patients will serious heart problems, reports thecomet.net. The ACU will contain 38 beds, whereas the AMU will house 24 beds and 14 specialist trolleys.

Staff members at the hospital helped design the new ward to ensure that important features were included, such as doors...


Five things to consider when down-sizing

Posted on June 23 2014 by

The kids have flown the coop; leaving you rattling around that clichéd empty nest and now is the time to think about down-sizing to a smaller property. Moving house is never easy, but down-sizing can be particularly difficult - up until this point, most people have bought increasingly larger homes so moving into one with reduced floor space can prove a bit of a challenge.

With that in mind, here are five things to consider when down-sizing:

Down-sizing doesn't mean compromising on quality

With any luck, selling a large family home and buying...


Stevenage brownfield land set for development rush

Posted on June 16 2014 by

Homes could soon start springing up on brownfield sites around Hertfordshire, thanks to a new proposal from George Osborne.

In a bid to meet ever-increasing demand for housing stock, Osborne has outlined plans to enable all home building on brownfield land across the UK. Such a move, he argued, would not only provide huge new scope for housing stock but also protect green belt land from similar developments.

Under his proposals, councils would be forced to pre-approve developments for brownfield land, provided it adheres to a number of pre-set rules. The result would mean...


Old cinema to be demolished for apartments

Posted on June 16 2014 by

Stevenage councillors have approved a planning application to tear down the old Rileys bar and snooker hall to make room for new retirement properties.

The 1930s building, which began life as the Astoria Cinema, is one of only three of its kind still standing in Hertfordshire - along with the Odyssey Cinema in St Albans and The Rex in Berkhamstead. Its history wasn't enough to save the building, though, as councillors voted seven to four in favour of its demolition.

Now, the site will be used for a development containing 11 two-bedroom apartments and 27 one-bedroom...


The electric revolution: How North Herts is embracing low emission vehicles

Posted on June 13 2014 by

Electric vehicles (EV) and designated charging points are no longer the realm of science fiction novels and movies; they are a very real product and could represent the next generation of vehicles for many drivers in the UK.

In fact, North Herts District Council (NHDC) has stepped forward to embrace these ultra low emission vehicles by agreeing to install six new recharging points within the district, thanks to a government grant. With two already in place in the Lairage Multi Storey and Woodside car park in Hitchin along with the Garden Square Multi Storey in Letchworth, the...


Stevenage school praised by Ofsted for great turnaround

Posted on June 12 2014 by

A school in Stevenage is celebrating after having turned its fortunes around - which resulted in its first 'Good' Ofsted report in more than a decade.

In March last year, Nobel School was given a 'requires improvement' rating from the education watchdog and within six months had brought in new headteacher Martyn Henson, theadvertisergroup.co.uk notes. Now, just over a year later the school has changed almost beyond recognition and even been given a 'Good' Ofsted score - the first of its kind for Nobel School since 2001.

Not only that, Ofsted...


Around 89 new homes could be built in Hitchin

Posted on May 27 2014 by

Hitchin residents could soon see the arrival of 89 new homes, as the North Hertfordshire College (NHC) is selling off part of its land for housing.

According to thecomet.net, the area up for development is NHC's Centre for the Arts site in Willian Road. The new homes will be a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments and three- and four- bedroom houses. A food store will also be constructed on the site.

NHC is selling the land to fund the refurbishment of a former Letchworth grammar school building, which is becoming the Da Vinci Studio School of Creative...


Edgar Wright 'proud' to show Letchworth at Hollywood cinemas

Posted on May 23 2014 by

Film and TV director Edgar Wright has spoken at the Empire Awards of his joy at seeing some of England's smaller towns and cities appear in global film franchises.

In an interview with Empire, Wright noted how 'weird' it seems to him when taking films to audiences around the world, only for somewhere like Letchworth to pop up on screen.

Wright has long been known for using Britain's smaller towns in his global smash hit films. Perhaps the most famous was his use of Wells as the fictional town of Sandford in 'Hot Fuzz', which Wright co-wrote...


What is the proposed north-south Crossrail proposal and how would it benefit Herts residents?

Posted on May 22 2014 by

You may have heard of the north-south Crossrail 2 project, but how much do you know about it? Simply put, Crossrail 2 is the follow up to Crossrail 1, as there are fears that the first project, although not completed yet, might not be enough to keep London's congestion out of control.

Nothing is confirmed just yet, but what are the plans for Crossrail 2 and how will they benefit Hertfordshire residents?

What is Crossrail 2?

The north-south Crossrail 2 proposal will see high-speed, high-capacity trains run between south-west and north-east...


Why opt for property management when renting out your home

Posted on May 19 2014 by

Full property management is often thought of as the ideal choice for first time landlords or those who live far away, but this needn't only be the case. In fact, property management can provide the ideal solution for landlords who don't want to get too bogged down in the business of repairs, visits and legality. Instead, all these concerns can be handed over to the professionals.

What is property management?

To start, a definition: property management is the system whereby landlords hand over all their typical responsibilities to an expert manager....


Luxury cat hotel in Royston offers moggies a touch of the high life

Posted on May 12 2014 by

A luxury cat hotel has opened its doors in Royston, so feline lovers can spoil their pets rotten for a few days.

According to hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, the Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel was officially opened by owner Letty Glaister, who says that she has always wanted to work with animals.

"I have grown up surrounded by animals and am passionate about cat welfare, the countryside and wildlife," she explains. "I firmly believe that to provide the individual care, attention and affection that I would want for my pets this has to be done in small numbers."

...


Heritage Foundation qualifies backing for 1,000 homes on Green Belt land

Posted on May 12 2014 by

A charitable organisation has spoken of the reasons why it backed plans for 1,000 new homes in Letchworth, herts24.co.uk reports.

The Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation surprised some when it chose to support a planning application for 1,000 new homes to be built on Green Belt land north of the Grange estate. It offered support to the proposals back in December 2013, claiming the development should be considered for inclusion in the North Herfordshire District Council's (NHDC) Local Plan.

More recently, the Heritage Foundation has had a chance to...


Work could soon begin on long-overdue Stevenage redevelopment

Posted on April 25 2014 by

Stevenage town centre could be in line for a huge new revamp after local councillors set their sights on a share of the government's 2 billion pound Local Growth Fund.

The town centre has long been rumoured to be on the cusp of redevelopment, although previous proposals haven't ever managed to get anywhere near becoming a reality. There was even a regeneration strategy published back in 2002, but nothing came of it. In the intervening time there have been proposals to redevelop Stevenage to make it a town for the 21st century but costs ranged from 250 million to 500...


'Heritage Watch' to protect historical sites in Hertfordshire

Posted on April 23 2014 by

Hertfordshire police has launched a scheme which aims to protect the area's heritage sites, historical monuments and artefacts from vandalism and criminal damage.

The scheme which has been called 'Heritage Watch' will aim to prevent anti-social behaviour at these sites, unauthorised excavation, metal detecting, architectural theft and any form of damage.

To combat the recent surge in this kind of crime, the local constabulary will seek to improve the communication channels between themselves and residents who live near to these historical sites.

Amongst...


Hertfordshire free from 'traffic spies', says report

Posted on April 15 2014 by

A new report has found that many councils around the country are using CCTV cameras to impose traffic and parking fines on motorists.

However, the research, which was carried out by campaign group Big Brother Watch showed that Hertfordshire council has none of the "traffic spies" in use. Essex County Council, East and North Herts, Broxbourne and Epping Forest councils were also free from any of the surveillance devices.

Freedom of Information requests showed that 70 local authorities did have static or car-mounted CCTV cameras to capture the offences however. This has...


First 'smart' motorway opens in Hertfordshire

Posted on April 14 2014 by

New 'smart' technology has been implemented into a section of motorway based in Hertfordshire today (April 14).

The measures have been introduced to the eight mile section of motorway between junctions 23 (A1M) and 25 (A10). They include infra-red CCTV cameras which allow the Highways Agency to see and respond to accidents quicker, as well as refuge areas and overhead signals. Those using the stretch of road will now also be able to use the hard shoulder at all times.

The Highways Agency claims that the new system has been introduced to reduce traffic, ease...


New funds being issued to support victims of crime in Hertfordshire

Posted on April 7 2014 by

Hertfordshire's police and crime commissioner is offering grants to support victims of crime, according to hertsandessexobserver.co.uk.

The 125,000-pound community safety fund will be available to community groups, individuals and businesses who work within "priority areas" under the Police and Crime Plan for Hertfordshire: 'Everybody's Business'.

The funding will also be handed out to those who have projects in place which provide support to rehabilitate past offenders. Those companies or individuals who qualify for the grant will have to place a...


Watford tipped to benefit from 'economically beneficial' projects

Posted on April 4 2014 by

Watford could be set to welcome a raft of new funding thanks to a new campaign to raise millions of pounds for its economic development.

As reported by watfordobserver.co.uk, the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is applying for cash out of a 30 million pound government fund for what local reports have described as 'economically beneficial' projects.

The coalition has invited applicants to come forward with proposals for boosting infrastructure around their most important areas, with Watford highlighted as a key player in the Hertfordshire...


Stevenage's Barnwell School gains sixth form college

Posted on March 28 2014 by

The latest improvement to Stevenage's education offering has seen the opening of a sixth form college at Barnwell School, reports thecomet.net.

Work on a purpose built centre has finally been completed and the institution is now able to welcome an additional 300 students for its new college classes.

A total of £5 million has been spent on constructing a centre with all the modern-day essentials, including the latest IT hardware, a large social area and a new library. These are in addition to several meeting rooms and classrooms.

Barnwell...


Redevelopment project will provide 39 new homes to North Herts

Posted on March 24 2014 by

A 7 million pound regeneration project is set to provide new housing in the North Hertfordshire area, according to thecomet.net.

Thirty-nine affordable homes will be built as part of the project for Hitchin's Westmill estate. The plans were approved by North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) last week. The council is working with North Hertfordshire Homes (NHH) on the renewal.

A new enclosed play area, shops, nine dedicated parking spaces and a supermarket will also be built at the John Barker Place site, along with a takeaway. This is the second phase...


North Herts Council to determine whether existing homes can remain

Posted on March 20 2014 by

The North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) is hosting an urgent planning meeting after locals argued that three new homes may have been built in Offley without the required permission, herts24.co.uk reports.

The NHDC planning committee will today (Thursday) weigh up a retrospective planning application for three homes built near Claypit Cottages on Luton Road. What makes this process rather difficult, however, is that two of the homes have already been sold subject to contract, whilst the third is already occupied.

Complaints have arisen after the owners of...


Stevenage council gives green light to 95 new homes

Posted on March 14 2014 by

Plans to build 95 new homes at an old fire brigade training centre in Stevenage have been given the green light, reports theadvertisergroup.co.uk.

A meeting which took place earlier this week virtually confirmed the demolition of Longfield training and rescue centre, which will be replaced by a range of housing options to buy or rent respectively.

Longfield's current training centre is set to be moved to a new site in Welwyn Garden City after being deemed no longer "fit for purpose".

Despite an increase in housing typically being seen as positive...


Hertfordshire aims to boost youth employment

Posted on March 14 2014 by

Hertfordshire is focused on getting young people into employment - this was the essence of the council's recent conference which concentrated wholly on this issue.

The annual Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) conference saw over 100 people in attendance. Amongst them were staff from schools across the county, careers advisors and co-ordinators as well as experts in youth employment.

According to hertfordshire.com, the conference featured two key-note speakers and a range of workshops for attendees to be part of, which covered topics such as social media...


Hatfield House will host Eastern Electrics Festival

Posted on March 14 2014 by

The Eastern Electrics Festival will take place in Hertfordshire this year at Hatfield House, reports altsounds.com.

Not only does Hatfield House serve as an amazing backdrop for the music festival, it's also just 20 minutes away from London and a one minute walk from the closest station. This means that it's an easy enough journey to make for any Londoners who wish to attend the festival.

The festival has never been held in this location before, but it means the residents of Hertfordshire will be able to enjoy some of the best dance music acts around yet...


A spotlight on Baldock

Posted on March 13 2014 by

Commuter towns for workers in London aren't exactly short in supply, but some are worth a special mention. Nestled in the idyllic setting of Hertfordshire and a mere 30 miles from the capital is Baldock, a market town with plenty to talk about.

This particular spot has a population of around 10,000 and benefits from close connections to job hotspots such as London and Cambridge.

Still, despite its links to some of the gems of the south, Baldock is more than capable of standing on its own two feet.

Need to know..

Although Baldock is...


New recruits bring number of special constables in Hertfordshire up to 434

Posted on March 11 2014 by

The recruitment of 16 new special constables means there will now be 434 working in the Hertfordshire area, according to borehamwoodtimes.co.uk.

The constables will be covering such areas as Borehamwood, Watford, St Albans, Hatfield, Hertford and Stevenage. Each recruit has been training for the role over the last nine weeks. They will continue with this training for the next 12 months, when they will then be able to qualify as special constables.

Talking about the new addition, David Tewkesbury, special constabulary chief officer, told...


Where are the best places to go shopping in North Hertfordshire?

Posted on March 7 2014 by

Whether you need something in particular or just want to enjoy looking around, it's vital to know where the best places to go shopping are near you. North Hertfordshire boasts some beautiful towns with some great shopping centres, so here's where you should go on your next day off.

Letchworth

If you're looking for a wide range of shops, Letchworth is the place to visit. There are plenty of independent shops, but many of your favourite high street chains can be found here too. The modern Garden Square shopping centre is where the majority of the...


Hertfordshire students to benefit from new state-of-the-art equipment

Posted on March 5 2014 by

Motor vehicle students at North Hertfordshire College are set to experience better training thanks to £30,000 worth of new equipment, according to nhc.ac.uk.

Those studying at the establishment will benefit from a new air condition trainer, petrol engine trainer and steering suspension trainer. Teachers at the college will also now be able to set specific faults within vehicles thanks to the new equipment, while students can see how each aspect of the car works more clearly.

Talking about the new equipment, motor vehicle technician Richard Flowers told...


Over 10,000 Hertfordshire children given a place at their favoured school

Posted on March 4 2014 by

The vast majority of Hertfordshire children will get to attend their preferred school this year, reports watfordobserver.co.uk.

Although there were more children applying for places this year, the success rate has increased, as 10,039 children have received a place at the school they named as their first choice. Last year, only 9,755 children were just as lucky.

Overall, 12,080 Hertfordshire children applied for a school place this year and 94.84 per cent of them will be going to one of their favoured upper or secondary schools.

Almost all the parents...


Existing Hertfordshire residents’ quality of life should be “paramount”

Posted on March 3 2014 by

The quality of life enjoyed by existing Hertfordshire residents should be put before the need for new social housing in the area, one local councillor believes.

District councillor Peter Ruffles made the claims after the group behind a controversial development application revealed that it is considering appealing the rejection it received.

Riversmead Housing Association had applied to build 36 new properties on the Sele Farm estate in Hertford, 24 of which would've been affordable homes. The proposal was dismissed, however, because the district council said it would...


Hertfordshire residents won't face tax rise for fifth year

Posted on February 27 2014 by

Hertfordshire County Council has once again agreed for a freeze to be put on council tax.

The payment has now stayed the same for the fifth year in a row. It means, once again, Hertfordshire residents in Band D properties will pay £1,118.83 a year for the tax. This is the same amount as residents paid back in 2009/10.

The decision was made at a full council meeting, which took place this week at County Hall, Hertford, according to watfordobserver.co.uk.

As well agreeing on the council tax rate, it was also announced by Councillor Derrick Ashley (Cons,...


Codicote development widens with new planning permission approval

Posted on February 24 2014 by

The North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) has officially approved additional plans to turn an old training centre in Codicote into houses and apartments.

The Node Conference and Training Centre, which was also a hotel, closed back in 2011 when its owners claimed it wouldn't be financially viable to continue operations. It was then bought in 2012 with a view to turn the property into new homes, whtimes.co.uk reports.

An initial planning application had previously been granted for developers to build four additional houses on the site, whilst turning the...


Preparing for work is a top priority for Hertfordshire youngsters

Posted on February 20 2014 by

Youngsters from Hertfordshire have named their top priorities to be tackled by local authorities in a vote.

Top issues named in the Hertfordshire UK Youth Parliament (HertsUKYP) elections included preparing youths for work and encouraging youth employment.

These topics will now form a mandate for district members of HertsUKYP (MYPs), who will talk further with young people in the area about these issues. Final results of discussions will then be published in the Herts1125 Hertfordshire Young People's Manifesto 2014/15.

Talking about this, County Councillor...


Public consultation to begin on new homes plan

Posted on February 18 2014 by

A public consultation will be starting on February 27th to determine where 15,000 new homes will be located in East Hertfordshire.

According to hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, a summary document which informs local residents of East Herts Council's plans for new infrastructure and homes over the next few years will soon be made available to all. Local people then have 12 weeks to review the proposal and send their responses to the council.

The document states that 15,000 homes need to be constructed between now and 2031. At the moment, there are plans for the...


Five reasons why country homes are better than central London properties

Posted on February 18 2014 by

Only the luckiest of people can claim they wake up to the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of birds singing in the trees outside their window every day. Those same people might live in a large house or demure cottage, with a garden perfect for their dog or children to run around in. Although living in the midst of central London might have its advantages, country living beats it every time. Here are the top five reasons why.

Properties are cheaper

Recent property price reports will show you that living in central London is far more expensive than...


Museum grant boosts educational opportunities in Hertfordshire

Posted on February 13 2014 by

The residents of Hertfordshire will soon have access to a range of enhanced learning facilities after a popular museum in Hitchin was given a major improvement grant, itv.com reports.

The British Schools Museum, which has been open since 1991, was awarded almost £90,000 from the Heritage Lottery Trust.

The money will be used to improve the facility's schools programme, which gives local pupils the chance to learn more about how children were educated in different historical periods.

The overhaul project, which has been dubbed 'Changing...


Hertfordshire residents get their chance to see Jason Manford in action this month

Posted on February 12 2014 by

Jason Manford is getting ready to give his first Hertfordshire performance of the year.

The Northern comedian will be performing at Watford Colosseum this Saturday (February 15). He will also be appearing on two more Hertfordshire dates, both at Alban Arena in St Albans on February 25 and 26. The shows are part of the comedian's 'First World Problems' tour.

Talking about getting back to his roots with the new tour, Manford told whtimes.co.uk: "Some of you might think I've had a career change what with all the opera and musical theatre I've...


Plans submitted for 110 new homes in Langford

Posted on February 10 2014 by

Plans have been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council for a new housing development that could see 110 units built in Langford.

Cheshire-based Gladman Developments has submitted initial plans for a new housing development on agricultural fields to the east of Station Road in Langford, centralbedfordshire.gov.uk notes. The proposals don't just detail its 110 new homes, but also the roads, driveways and public open spaces which would make up the eventual development.

It is thought the development could bring around 300 new residents to Langford, so the local...


A spotlight on Barton-Le-Clay

Posted on February 6 2014 by

Barton-Le-Clay might not be a name that immediately ring any bells with the vast majority of people, but that's probably because it's one of the South's best kept secrets.

Located between Bedford and Luton, this recently-extended village is home to 5,000 people and is not only convenient for commuting into London, it also offers a balanced quality of life that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Situation

Head off the M1 at junction 12 for the A6 and in ten minutes you will have entered the village. While it might be just 33 miles north of...


Major refurbishment begins on hotel in Royston town centre

Posted on January 24 2014 by

An abandoned Grade II-listed hotel will soon get the regeneration it deserves, as a project has begun to turn it into a high end hotel, bar and restaurant.

According to hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, Banyers Hotel on Melbourn Street in Royston had been empty since it closed in December 2012.

William Thomas, associate director of Fleurets, who specialise in the sale of hotels and pubs, announced that the property has been sold to Beechdale Homes.

"The attractive period property is conveniently located in between the cities of London and Cambridge and offers a...


A spotlight on Stevenage

Posted on January 22 2014 by

Being at least 2,000 years old, the Hertfordshire town and borough of Stevenage contains a great wealth of history. However, as well as the borough's historical credentials, such as it's Old Town and the Stevenage Museum, there are also many modern facilities which make it a great place to live today.

These include lots of shops, restaurants, clubs and other places to check out, in addition tons of sporting facilities and good transport ties to London.

What entertainment does Stevenage have to offer?

Stevenage has lots to offer when it comes...


Inspiring Hertforshire businesses to be honoured in awards

Posted on January 16 2014 by

The Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2014 is set to honour the inspirational companies and individuals in the county.

This is the third year that the awards, ran by Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, are taking place. The main sponsor of the event is creative marketing agency, KISS. The firm will be awarding the winner of 'Business of the Year' a prize of £7,500, as well as a year of strategic marketing support.

Talking about the awards, Simon Fryer, CEO of KISS, told cambridgenetwork.co.uk: "An event such as the Inspiring Hertfordshire awards not only...


Public gets first look at East Herts plans

Posted on January 13 2014 by

Local residents are being given the opportunity to view an early version of the East Herts district plan, after it has gone on display via the council website, hertfordshiremercury.co.uk reports.

East Hertfordshire Council's proposal - which is still in the draft stage - has been published online, detailing areas for potential change. The plan, which reportedly extends right up to the year 2031, includes suggestions for housing, developments and schools. It also encompasses employment uses and opportunities, not to mention transport infrastructure improvement ideas...


Where to recycle your Christmas tree in North Hertfordshire

Posted on January 10 2014 by

There are few sadder reminders that the Christmas season is over than the sight of a forlorn and barren looking spruce. Stripped of its tinsel, baubles and general lustre, what was once a beacon of excitement to come ends up looking depressed and beleaguered. Then, just to compound matters, many people end up leaving their spruce in the garden or outside, where it will end up withering into an even sadder-looking beast.

This needn't be the case, however, as there are plenty of places where Christmas trees can be recycled, meaning that, not only will the January ritual become...


Hertfordshire village pays homage to 'Game of Thrones'

Posted on January 9 2014 by

One Hertfordshire village has decided to pay tribute to popular TV show 'Game of Thrones' by temporarily changing its name, according to independent.co.uk.

Kings Langley will become King's Landing for one week only next month. The change is being made to celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of season three of the US show.

King's Landing is known as the royal capital of the seven kingdoms of Westeros in the fantasy drama, shown on Sky Atlantic and Sky1 in the UK.

The idea for the name change came from one of the show's producers, who...


Alice in Chains to make their only 2014 UK appearance at Sonisphere

Posted on January 7 2014 by

Alice in Chains fans have a rare chance to catch them perform in the UK, as they will be making their one and only 2014 appearance at the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth later this year.

According to herfordshiremercury.co.uk, the American rock band has sold more than 25 million albums over the course of its career. Lead vocalist and guitarist, William DuVall, looks forward to the summer festival.

"We're very excited to be playing once again at Sonisphere, particularly as this year has us joining our longtime friends in Metallica," he said. "It should be a fun...


Admission rules set to change for Hertfordshire schools

Posted on January 6 2014 by

Hertfordshire County Council has announced it is to amend the administration for local schools within its borders, thecomet.net reports.

In a bid to simplify the entire process, Hertfordshire County Council is set to roll out a new scheme to those schools which currently do not set their own admission rules, of which there are 14.

The changes would see Rule 6, which is concerned with the distance pupils travel to their school, removed entirely. Currently, the Rule stipulates that a child will be given priority to a school when it is "the nearest maintained school...


Which are the best schools in Hertfordshire?

Posted on December 18 2013 by

Located immediately to the north of Greater London, Hertfordshire has become a highly popular place for city workers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle that surrounds the capital's central area.

This particular point on the London commuter belt boasts a population of around 1,119,800, making it the sixth biggest two-tier county in terms of the number of residents, and for good reason. Hertfordshire is highly regarded by its locals and in 2013, in a USwitch quality of life index, the area was named the third-best place to live in the UK.

Still, stats alone...


Stevenage dubbed 'Space City', hopes to help put first human on Mars

Posted on December 16 2013 by

The town of Stevenage is home to so many aerospace firms, it has been named 'Space City' and there are hopes that it could become the next Cape Canaveral.

According to mirror.co.uk, an industrial estate located on the outskirts of Stevenage is home to the world's third biggest space company, Astrium.

Science minister David Willetts hopes that the town can help develop technology that would put a British astronaut on Mars in the next 30 years.

"A lot of the technology for the Mars rover vehicle, which will launch in a couple of years, was...


Hertfordshire takeaway named as top curry house

Posted on December 11 2013 by

A Hertfordshire takeaway has been named as one of the top curry houses in the South East.

Tandoori Nights, in High Street, Hoddesdon won prizes in the Curry Life awards and the Good Food awards. The Indian takeaway was also named as a runner-up in the British Curry Awards.

Talking about the award wins, owner of the establishment, Anhar Uddin didn't seem surprised, telling hertfordshiremercury.co.uk: "We've been the top in the borough of Broxbourne since 2003."

Mr Uddin also said that the family-run business always uses fresh ingredients...


Letchworth cited as example of housing crisis-solving town

Posted on December 9 2013 by

A new report has singled out Letchworth as the type of new city the UK should focus on developing in order to supply the millions of houses that are in such high demand, theadvertisergroup.co.uk writes.

The 'Commons Sense' report told politicians that reviving a 'garden cities movement' could help to address the current housing shortage by creating some 1.5 million homes within the next seven years. It adds that the concept, whereby communities would be largely self-contained and self-sufficient, could create affordable places to live.

Compiled by...


Some of the most recent buy-to-let mortgage offers

Posted on December 6 2013 by

With property prices back on the rise and experts suggesting a new "bubble" could be on the horizon, the golden age of letting is still far from being over. One issue that often catches out many first time landlords, though, is that of mortgages.

Many expect that it would be fine to leave their existing setup as is, without the need for change. At the very least, some expect to have to tell their bank that it won't be under owner-occupancy any more.

In truth, however, landlords will need to change their mortgage over to one that's specifically designed for...


Hundreds turn up for Hertfordshire Business Awards

Posted on December 2 2013 by

Over 400 people were in attendance at the Hertfordshire Business Awards, which took place in the county last week, according to whtimes.co.uk.

Representatives of nearly all industries from business and commerce were at the ceremony, which was held at Knebworth Barns for the sixth consecutive year.

The show, which took place last Thursday (November 28) was hosted by Jay Raynor, from the BBC's 'The One Show' and 'Master Chef'. It featured 14 different awards to honour those doing business locally. These included best new business in the area,...


Crossing the M25: moving to the northern home counties

Posted on November 19 2013 by

The regions that surround London, as you will no doubt be aware, are known collectively as the 'home counties'. They are traditionally the areas which accommodate those that work in capital, providing a manageable commute. They are the regions to which many Londoners aspire; keen to take advantage of easy access for career progression but are determined to improve their quality of life away from 'the big smoke'.

The northern home counties in particular - Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex - can offer some huge lifestyle changes for those...


A spotlight on Luton

Posted on November 15 2013 by

Home to over 200,000 people, Luton is one of the larger towns in Bedfordshire. It is a popular alternative to living in London for many, as it is only 30 miles north of the capital - making it ideal location-wise for those who work in London. In addition, it is also very close to the countryside - another benefit it has over London.

The town is steeped in history and it's believed the foundations of Luton were formed in the sixth century. Back then it was only home to around 700-800 people but Luton really began to become established in the 17th century, when it's hat...


Residents in Dacorum get their chance to have a say on budget spending

Posted on November 15 2013 by

Residents in a Hertfordshire district have been given a chance to have their say about how its upcoming budget will be spent.

Dacorum Borough Council has set up an online consultation for those in the area to give their views on what council money should be spent on. The move comes after a number of cuts had to be made to the area's spending in the past few years.

The Council spends around 41 million pounds a year on services, according to dacorum.gov.uk. However, it aims to save 1 million pounds next year and decrease the budget by around £5 million...


Letchworth Garden City cinema praised after award nomination

Posted on November 5 2013 by

An independent cinema in Letchworth Garden City has been praised after being shortlisted for a major European award.

Broadway Cinema in Eastcheap was one of 11 cinemas competing for the excellence in exhibition award at the Event Cinema Assocation (ECA) awards in London.

It didn't win, but received all sorts of praise for its wide range of film content and live screenings.

Speaking to thecomet.net, the cinema's general manager Jason Valentine said it was an honour to be named amongst the nominees.

He said: "We might be a small independent...


3.3bn pounds to be spent on park improvement

Posted on November 1 2013 by

North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) has revealed plans to spend 3.3 billion pounds on improvements to parks and green space in the area.

This announcement comes as part of the council's new Green Space Strategy designed to provide residents with better parks, sports pitches and cemeteries throughout the region - which will run from 2014 to 2019.

In previous years the NHDC has managed to get outside funding and grants for projects to improve green space such as the rejuvenation of Howard Park and Gardens in Letchworth GC.

One of the projects will see the...


Region-wide 20mph speed limit could be introduced soon

Posted on October 31 2013 by

A 20mph speed limit could be introduced across all residential roads in North Hertfordshire within a couple of months.

A cross-party county council overview and scrutiny committee met earlier this week to discuss the prospect of the region-wide limit and has submitted its recommendations to the local cabinet member for highways.

According to hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, the committee supported the notion of a region-wide limit and were also keen to calculate speeds using mean figures rather than 85th percentile speeds.

In an interview with...


Letchworth home features on popular BBC One show

Posted on October 29 2013 by

One of Letchworth's most attractive properties featured on daytime television show 'Britain's Empty Homes' this morning (October 29th).

Tvcatchup.com reports that the 110-year-old Grade II listed building in Ridge Road was the main focus of the popular BBC One show.

The episode featured interviews with married couple Matthew and Monelle Bryce-Reid who moved to Letchworth in May after buying the property. The couple discussed their plans to renovate the building and bring it back to its former glory.

In an interview with...


Must love pets: What do pet owners look for in a property?

Posted on October 18 2013 by

If you own a pet, it's like an extended part of your family - so it's important to make sure that the house you buy is just as suitable for them as it is for you. Pets are very popular with homeowners, as 13 million households now have a pet of some kind - that's 45 per cent of all homes. According to the PFMA's (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) recent Pet Population report, the most popular household pet is fish; with around 20-25 million homes owning either a tank or pond full of fish. Cats and dogs are also hugely popular, with 8.5 million owners across the UK.

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Letchworth's new exhibition celebrates its garden city roots

Posted on October 14 2013 by

A new exhibition, called the International Garden Cities Exhibition, aims to celebrate the influence Letchworth Garden City has had on the rest of the world.

According to letchworth.com, the exhibition is on display in the former drawing offices of Barry Parker, one of the two architects behind Letchworth Garden City's plan. The original furniture of this Grade II building is still kept inside.

Letchworth was the world's first garden city and the idea came from Ebenezer Howard. His vision went on to influence the rest of the world with garden cities adopted...


Seventies memories set to be displayed in Hertfordshire and Suffolk museums

Posted on October 11 2013 by

Many of Hertfordshire and Suffolk's museums are soon going to be taken back to the Seventies due to a new project, according to hlf.org.uk.

The Saving the 70s project, which will use memorabilia, memories and images from the decade, will feature in 11 of the museums around the region.

A number of events and exhibitions will be put on as part of the project. These will feature around all elements of the seventies decade, such as fashion, technology and popular culture. The proceedings have been made possible thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which has...


A spotlight on Knebworth

Posted on October 11 2013 by

For a small North Hertfordshire parish of about 4,000 inhabitants, an awful lot of people have heard of Knebworth - this is largely down to Knebworth House's history of hosting enormous gigs with some of the biggest names in music.

Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Oasis and Robbie Williams are among the groups who have graced that famous stage, but there is more to this green belt area than musicians and adoring fans.

Just down the A1 from Stevenage, Knebworth is actual a fairly sleepy rural spot but still giving its residents plenty of opportunities for work and play by being...


A spotlight on Letchworth Garden City

Posted on October 8 2013 by

Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire was essentially a prototype for some of the world's most famous cities.

Formed in 1903, it is widely believed to be the world's first garden city. Its development influenced the design of Australian capital Canberra, as well as the likes of Hellerau, Tapanila and Welwyn Garden City.

It was Ebenezer Howard who invented the concept of a garden city - a self-contained community surrounded by a green belt area that prevented expansion. He wrote a book explaining this concept in 1898 and the land just outside Hitchin was selected...


Primary school receives 10,000 pounds worth of new play equipment

Posted on October 1 2013 by

Children from a primary school in Puckeridge have received 10,000 pounds worth of new equipment on which to play.

According to hertfordshiremercury.co.uk, the new play area for St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School was funded by donations from the parent teacher association (PTA), but it has taken years to save up for.

The Trim Trail equipment was installed during the children's summer holidays and is now available for pupils to play on during break times. Reverend John White officially opened the area by blessing it.

Wendy Hoy, senior teacher at the...


Furniture: key decisions when renting out a property

Posted on October 1 2013 by

With the demand for rental property continuing to skyrocket amid a boom in the construction of new homes, there's never been a better time to put your house up for let.

You might not want to sell your old house but feel this could be a good opportunity to rent out your property for another stream of income. You've every reason to; stats suggest that the number of new tenancies in the UK increased by 22 per cent between July 2012 - 2013, while it seems tenants are still valuing the short-term arrangement by looking for new properties when their agreements are up.

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Broxbourne wildlife park sees the addition of two red panda cubs

Posted on September 13 2013 by

Two red panda cubs have been born in at the Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

According to standard.co.uk, the two-year-old mother of the cubs, Tilly, actually gave birth two months ago but she has been so protective of her babies, zoo keepers were not actually able to see them close up - until now.

As the keepers haven't been able to get near the cubs, they have not been named but hopefully they can get up close and personal soon to identify what gender they both are. Once they have done that, the cubs can finally get names.

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New train service could link Cambridge and Bedford

Posted on September 13 2013 by

New train routes have been proposed which would link Cambridge and Bedford, according to bbc.co.uk, giving travellers in these towns and the surrounding areas a new transportation upgrade to look forward to.

Four different options have been put forward for the new tracks. One of these is a totally new line between the two regions which would be placed along the route of the A428 road.

Two other options have been put forward that would use existing track. These suggestions have come from campaign group Railfuture, which proposes alterations to the Cambridge-Sandy...


A spotlight on Hitchin

Posted on September 2 2013 by

Nestled in the north district of Hertfordshire, Hitchin is primarily known for its countless historical boasts and status as one of England's true market towns. Though unlike so many of its kind, it seems Hitchin hasn't dwelled on the past and has been brought right up to speed with modern day living.

Hitchin is one of the two largest towns in the North Hertfordshire District with a population of approximately 30,360. The town was known to pre-historic travellers along the Icknield Way, while various buildings, utensils and coins suggest the Romans were also aware of the...


Convenience for London commuters - speedier connections from Hertfordshire

Posted on August 23 2013 by

Hertfordshire is one of the best counties to live in if you are a London commuter. Most towns in Hertfordshire are only a short train journey of one hour or less from London's city centre and provide commuters with the added benefit of living away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.

Recently, Network Rail has improved connections from London to Hertfordshire too, making it even easier for commuters to get to London then back home to Hertfordshire again.

Hitchin Flyover

Due to the increasing demand for rail services to and from London,...


Transport links for Hertfordshire renters and homebuyers

Posted on August 22 2013 by

From picturesque villages, quaint market towns and tons of attractions, Hertfordshire offers a wealth of entertainment and enjoyment for residents. However, what is it like actually getting around the county?

This guide will take a comprehensive look at the transport links available and how different members of the community will be able to take advantage of them.

Families

When looking at an area to live in, it is important to know that it is easy to get around. This is especially important for families, where children or teens might need access to...


Hertfordshire brew wins award at Great British Beer Festival

Posted on August 16 2013 by

A beer made in Hertfordshire has come away with an award at the Great British Beer Festival.

Buntingford Brewery's Twitchell came away with the silver award at the event, which offered visitors more than 800 ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers, according to gbbf.co.uk.

The brew, which hails from Royston, claimed the title of the second best beer in Britain after it made the finals - selected by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Twitchell also triumphed in the golden ales category, winning a silver for its Polar Star beer, as well as winning gold in the...


First Boutique Laura Ashley hotel opens in Hertfordshire

Posted on August 13 2013 by

British design house Laura Ashley has opened its first boutique hotel in Hertfordshire.

The Manor Hotel in Elstree has 49 bedrooms, all decorated using Laura Ashley's very own interior designs and collections, reports dailymail.co.uk. In addition, visitors can buy any décor they fancy online during their stay at the hotel.

According to foxnews.com, the hotel is a renovated Tudor estate, dating back to 1540 and Laura Ashley has said it has tried to keep as many of the period features as possible. The front door, for example, used to be part of the...


New homes plan set to go in front of Councillors

Posted on August 6 2013 by

Clifton Parish Council is in the process of weighing up whether to allow homebuilder Taylor Wimpey to develop a plot of land into 70 homes in the village, biggleswadetoday.co.uk reports.

Taylor Wimpey, which is one of the UK's largest housebuilders, has submitted planning application to develop new homes on a vacant site at New Road in Clifton, near Hitchin. After being carried over, the hearing on whether to grant planning permission has been set for August 14, where it will be decided whether initial permission can be granted. If so, Taylor Wimpey can then detail...


Welwyn Garden City nursery named as one of the best in Britain

Posted on July 24 2013 by

A Welwyn Garden City nursery has been named as one of the top learning centres in the country.

Sycamore Day Nursery, based in Howlands, was given an 'outstanding' rating by Ofsted. This means that the facility is one of the top nurseries in UK, considering on 12 per cent of English Early Years Providers have achieved the rating.

The nursery was praised by Ofsted for such things as their dedication to meeting the needs of each individual child, whatever their physical or educational abilities. It was also complimented for its strong partnerships with parents.

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Furnished or unfurnished? Property letting dilemmas

Posted on July 24 2013 by

When preparing to let out a property there will inevitably arise the question of whether you should furnish the space - there are a number of factors to consider here.

Oddly enough, there is no actual definition about what it means to be unfurnished, part-furnished or fully furnished. In many ways this makes sense as different homeowners will have distinct ideas about what it means to have completely furnished their house - for example, does a home require a kettle to be considered furnished? Many Brits might say yes.

In general, unfurnished will involve just white goods...