HATFIELD was built in four stages. There was the Old Town, then the New Town and the arrival of the railway – when it became known as ‘California’ because it was ‘out west and bit rough’. Then came the post-war stage of the New Town, and now the old British Aerospace site has sprouted a major shopping mall – The Galleria – multiplex cinema and David Lloyd leisure centre. The University of Hertfordshire’s de Havilland campus contains the Hertfordshire Sports Village, built to Sport England standards, which is open to local residents. Hatfield may be dreary but has a brilliant strategic position – being close to the A1, the M25, and only a wingbeat from Kings Cross by train – and it offers lower house prices than surrounding areas. Its greatest public attraction is Hatfield House, built by Robert Cecil.
Most people prefer the red-brick houses of Old Hatfield to the Thirties-style houses and shopping parades of the 1948 New Town. A cottage with two bedrooms in Old Hatfield will cost around £220,000, though a flat of similar size would be slightly cheaper at £160,000. A three- or four-bedroom detached house will cost from £260,000 upwards. Two of the best areas are The Ryde, which has detached houses and bungalows, and Ellenbrook, where there is a mix of Thirties semis and detached houses. The lowest price for something with three bedrooms here would be £280,000; £500,000 for five bedrooms. In New Hatfield the starting price for a four-bedroom detached house is around £250,000.