Commuter town spotlight: Hemel Hempstead

hemel hempstead

City living isn’t for everyone. Some of us prefer having a big backyard, strong community ties and better access to the countryside. That’s when buyers start looking a little further abroad at London’s commuter villages, like Hemel Hempstead.

This Hertfordshire ‘new town’ was only developed to create overspill housing for Londoners after the Second World War and little else of much substance changed until recently. A major £30million regeneration has now begun to transform the larger Hemel Hempstead area into a force to be reckoned with.

Large luxury developments are popping up all over the village, just as new arts and culture and dining destinations are born. The Old Town’s colourful terraces and high streets shops are also slowly getting the star treatment while the Grand Union Canal is being spruced up for new nearby properties, too.

This is the time to buy in Hemel Hempstead – just as it is modernising.

What properties are on offer?

Most housing in central Hemel Hempstead has traditionally been ex-local authority, although a wide range of terraced and semi-detached houses also regularly hit the market. Once you get to the Apsley and Boxmoor areas you will find Victorian streets lined with more characterful houses as well as larger modern developments like Apsley Quay by Bellway.

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Bellway’s new development, Apsley Quay, is a sign of Hemel Hempstead’s modernising

This new build is a sign of things to come. Each of the apartments will have a private balcony or terrace, many with views over the idyllic Grand Union Canal. You can also expect a high spec throughout the development. And, impressively, as part of the Apsley Quay development, Bellway will contribute more than £1million in Community Infrastructure Levy payments, provide 59 affordable homes for local people, and pay an additional £100,000 towards improving local infrastructure as part of the planning agreement.

This includes £80,000 towards canal and towpath improvements, a further £10,000 to install Induction Loop hearing systems for pedestrians at Durrants Hill Road, and £20,000 to improve junctions at Lawn Road and London Road.

Greg Allsop said: “With any new development, it is important that the infrastructure is in place to ensure the area can support its new residents.

“We are pleased that our planning contributions will help to bring about improvements for the whole community.”

This is an important sign that new developments and residents will be contributing to the revitalisation of the area and helping to bolster the community spirit. They won’t just be creating their own small patch of gated communities.

Who’s buying into the area?

Properties within the commuter belt, such as those in Hemel Hempstead, are becoming more popular as London prices continue to rise. There has been a greater demand for properties in the area, as people are either priced out of the central London locations or are looking for more space and higher quality homes for a significantly lower price.

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Visitors love the brightly coloured terraced houses

And great transport links mean that those who live in Hemel Hempstead are likely to work and play in the City. Hemel Hempstead is also a popular location because it is currently more affordable than its neighbours St Albans and Kings Langley. But the area’s regeneration may very well see it catch up in prices within the next few years. Top ranked schools are also a huge draw for families. And, with there being so much for young and old to get up to, it’s no wonder Hemel Hempstead was voted one of the top 10 commuter towns by the Sunday Times.

Arts & Leisure

The local community is buzzing in this commuter belt town; there are countless things to do (many of which aren’t offered in London). One of the biggest draw cards would have to be the proximity to the Hertfordshire countryside. Head out for long walks, a day of cycling, a weekend of camping, or just a relaxing drive around the rolling hills. You’ll make all Londoners green with envy.

The Grand Union Canal also passes through the area and is made for waterside picnics and all other manner of outdoor fun. Families are also frequenting the Langleybury Children’s Farm regularly for educational days out.

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Strolls along the Grand Union Canal are what weekends are made for in Hemel Hempstead

But you don’t have to hope for good sunny weather if you’re going to enjoy your spare time in Hemel Hempstead. The Old Town Hall is the place to go for live music events, comedy shows, theatre, art workshops, and just about any other kind of art and culture activity. Galleries are also aplenty in this little village.


Local eateries are also on the up and up. It’s not all pubs and fish and chip shops here; although one of our favourite spots continues to be the 16th-century Three Horseshoes gastropub. It’s located right on the canal and is one of the best spots to sit and grab a few pints before moving on to other cafes and restaurants in the area for more hearty grub.

The Old Town High Street is also lined with several independent restaurants and cafes, full of friendly locals. And it’s not all British either. Expect plenty of Thai, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern dining destinations to become even more popular in the coming years.


Transport links are one of the main wins for Hemel Hempstead. There are regular trains to and from London Euston, with a journey time of around half an hour. That’s shorter than most people who live right in the thick of London. Wembley is only 20 minutes away by train while direct trains from Hemel Hempstead go to Milton Keynes, Coventry and on to Birmingham, too.

A handful of buses will get you around town but cars are far more necessary here than they would be in central London. Don’t expect trains and buses to come every five minutes either. Things move at a slightly slower pace out here – after all, that’s a big reason for why people choose to move to Hemel Hempstead.