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Bishops Stortford - what can you tell me?

(43 Posts)
Nix01 Tue 12-Jun-12 08:18:23

Thank you to everyone for helping with our relocation thus far. I've seen some amazing villages and homes on Rightmove smile

I think we're going to concentrate on settling in Bishop's Stortford. It looks (over the internet) to be a nice area, lovely greenery, good schools, commuter friendly etc.

Can anyone recommend a particular area within BS or advise against a particular area in BS? I'd prefer not to be in the Stansted flight path.

Thanks in advance.

Nix01 Tue 12-Jun-12 12:37:56

Ps, family with two boys (5 and 2 years old)

thereinmadnesslies Tue 12-Jun-12 12:43:36

Do you want to be within walking distance of the station?

Nix01 Tue 12-Jun-12 19:35:24

Thereinmadnesslies, it's not necessary to be that close, but he'll probably either buy a scooter or I'll drop him off in the mornings.

When I said BS, I meant plus surrounding areas smile

thereinmadnesslies Tue 12-Jun-12 21:05:18

Only really know about Stortford itself, but here goes -

New build developments are Thorley Park (80s), bishops park (late 90s, tesco) bishops gate (90s) and st michaels mead (late 90s-00). All have a mixture of 3/4/5 bedroom houses. St Michaels Mead is perceived to be a more executive development, houses are bigger but it is furthest out of town. Your DH would definitely need a scooter.

Near the town houses near Bishops
Stortford College (Hadham Rd) are nice but expensive. Cricketfield Lane area next to Hadham Rd is really nice, lots of green space, family houses, can walk to town and has Northgate School which is perceived by many to be the best state primary in the town. Roads like Chantry Rd and Barrells Down Rd good for older properties if that's what you prefer.

Very near the station Warwick Rd is nice, mix of older family homes but classic commuter street so very expensive.

The roads off Dunmow Rd are a mixture of old gorgeous Victorian properties and v sad looking ex-council streets. There's a newish development near Herts and Essex Hopital - Cavell Drive etc that doesn't have a great reputation. Lots of townhouses that have struggled to sell then been let out to airport workers.

There is also loads of roads in the Parsonage Lane / Heath Row area which would be just about walk able to the station. Don't know much about the area, Summercroft is an ofsted outstanding rated primary. Houses are ex Bovis (1970s?) and ex council.

Last major housing area are the roads off/ near Thorley Hill ... Would be in walking distance of the station. Mix of ex council and nice family homes. One of the local primaries for this area is Windhill which is constantly under-subscribed, not really sure why though.

Sorry, but of an essay blush

Outstanding primaries off the top of my head are Northgate, Summercroft, and Hillmead school (in Bishops Park) but all the schools are good. Bishops Stortford College is the private 4-18 option. There are proposals to move two of the secondary schools (herts and Essex girls and BS boys) to a new site at the edge of Thorley Park so don't be too hung up on living in a secondary school catchment.

Sorry for boring you to tears. Can give you more specific information if you've got anywhere in mind.

confusedperson Tue 12-Jun-12 21:46:52

Ha! I also have two boys (4.5 and 1.5) and thinking of moving to BS, so watching with high interest!

Nix01 Wed 13-Jun-12 09:07:59

Thanks for your detailed reply.

Can one get a seat on the train to London in the mornings? Or would maybe Saffron Walden be a better option?

I'm really battling to find a proper map of the area with houses for sale to get an idea of which area's you're referring to. Any idea where to find one?

Houses I sort of like (although I'd still prefer a more rural and bigger house and garden!)

Nix01 Wed 13-Jun-12 09:27:12

This is also interesting as there's half the house to convert back to residential:

Hetfield Wed 13-Jun-12 10:50:46

Sitting in HK right now with the children at a playdate so have gone through your list.

Peregrine Close is on Bishop's Park - 1990's
Fulton Crescent - Parsonage Lane area of town
Larchwood/Badgers/Pynchbek/Mayfield Park/The Ridings and Abbotts Way are all on Thorley Park which is the 1980' estate (I have friends living on all those streets!).
The Georgian looking one is on Bishop's Park and I've actually seen the one next door to this I think (quite small inside)

The other house is in Sawbridgeworth which is a couple of miles up the road. Some good schools, swimming pool and of the Beckhams live there!

I used to live on Thorley and really loved it there - real community feel to it. The joy of Stortford is that even if you live on an estate you are only a short walk from green, open spaces. All of the estates are family orientated and have playgrounds running within them, can't really tell you about the Parsonage Lane area of town but would definitely avoid the area around Cavell Drive as we lived there for 6 months and could hear everything from next door.

My husband commuted everyday into Liverpool Street - he cycled to the station but will be getting a scooter when he gets back as it is a miserable journey in the rain and for us on Thorley adds another 20 mins to the journey. He never had a problem getting a seat UNLESS the trains were cancelled but he did go in early.

All the schools are good in Bishop's Stortford which was the main draw for us when we first came back from overseas and I never regretted moving there. Good luck with whatever you decide.

mrsnw Wed 13-Jun-12 20:37:09

I live in a small town next to bs. I love living here. However, I feel obliged to tell you that every piece of space we have is being built on. There is also rumours of a 250 house development on green land. They are also building 50 houses next to the sec school. This is starting to put a strain on schools. Lots of parents didn't get their first choice this year and I think the problem will get worse. So make sure you buy very close to your chosen school. Good luckxx

thereinmadnesslies Thu 14-Jun-12 09:51:27

Does this link to google maps work

If you zoom the map in/out so that you have the M11 to the right hand side of the screen and the bypass A1184 on the left hand side.

Thorley Park (where a lot of the houses you've linked to are) is the big area of houses off Villier Sur Marne and Friedberg Ave in the bottom left hand corner on the map.

I used to live in Thorley Park and its nice. There is a little shopping area with a sainsburys (and petrol), and a few smaller shops like a hairdressers, Martins, dry cleaner, Busy Bees nursery chain and a fish and chip shop. There is also a doctor and dentist. For me the slight negative is that some of the roads were built before families had 2 cars, so most houses only have space for one and there is a lot of parking on the road. The houses off Villier Sur Marne are slightly older (early 80s) compared to those off Friedberg Ave (late 80s/early 90s) and I think the plots on the Friedberg side are slightly more spacious. For schools, the houses on the Friedberg side are close to Manor Fields School which got an outstanding Ofsted report and has a good reputation. Manor Fields is also the closest school for St Michaels Mead so it is usually v. oversubscribed. On the Villier Sur Marne side I think the schools would be Thorley Hill or Richard Whittington (sorry, don't know anyone who attends these).

There is also Thorley Pre School for your younger child - funded sessions from 3. There is a community centre in Thorley park that has a playgroup, tumble tots etc and there is a big children's play area and a good amount of green space.

BoffinMum Thu 21-Jun-12 16:05:53

We are also thinking of moving there, and I was wondering if anyone knows anything about childcare in the area? I have been considering the Busy Bees nursery at Thorley Park, for example.

thereinmadnesslies Fri 22-Jun-12 13:23:01

hey Boffin, we were on the same April 2009 babies thread way back I think!

Busy Bees in Thorley has a good reputation. For me the minus was that they have one smallish garden shared between all the rooms. They are also the most expensive option in the town, approx £70 per day for under 2s.

DS is at Busy Bees in St Michaels Mead, which is a lovely nursery. All the rooms have a door straight out to a garden area for each room, so if the weather is nice they spend much of the day in the garden.

There is also the Children's Nest nursery on Hadham Road which opened 2yrs ago, don't know anything about it.

From Stortford some people use day nurseries out of the town if they work in a particular direction - there is IDA in Sawbridgeworth and Spellbrook, or High House in Stansted High House is a Montessori and I know some parents rate it v highly, especcially for more able children. There are also nurseries in the Takely / Little Canfield area if you want to drive east from Stortford.

There is also a prep school Howe Green in Gt Hallingbury that starts from age 3.

For 3+ there is Bishops Park Pre School (by Tesco) and Thorley Pre School that both do sessional care, but probably not enough to cover a working day.

Kveta Fri 22-Jun-12 13:58:19

stortford is lovely smile thorley hill and manor fields primaries have great reputation, we are in catchment for thorley and richard whittington, but oldest child is not going to school anytime soon, so can't say which is best. (youngest child feeding at the moment hence awful typing, sorry!)

parsonage lane area is not very nice IMO - although the primary there is supposed to be excellent. cavell drive and areas around the hospital have some lovely looking houses, but the area does not have a good rep (friends moved there last year and are desperately looking to move away from it, as they find it very unfriendly and slightly sinister. the nightingales development is the old workhouse apparently, as an aside grin)

warwick rd and surrounds are very leafy, easy access to the station, and houses looks fabulous! thorley park is nice, but a lot of the houses are tiny, much smaller than you expect. Avoid Elisabeth Rd, Piggots Way, Waytemore Rd, Benhooks etc, all quite dodgy by stortford standards. Not unpleasant, just not the nicest areas. likewise Apton rd and surrounds.

We bought through Intercounty, and they were mostly good - better than other estate agents in the area anyway.

DH and I both commute (1 to London, 1 to just south of Cambridge) when I'm not on mat leave, and have no problems with it. DC1 goes to childminder locally, and she is absolutely excellent - DC2 will go to her when I go back to work. I prefer the local childminders to the local nurseries anyway - local nurseries all seem a little cramped to me, but DC1 goes to my work nursery, which is on a huge campus, so the kids have acres of land to explore - I suspect all nurseries would seem small after that.

BoffinMum Sun 24-Jun-12 13:22:42

Yo Therein! We are doing a second viewing of a house later, and I will follow up the nursery leads next week if we do decide to take the plunge.

I just can't work out if we will be better off as a family there. Cambridge can be stressful in terms of finding schools, childcare, healthcare, nhs dentists and so on. It looks as though there are more resources in BS. But I don't know if I have understood that correctly.

thereinmadnesslies Sun 24-Jun-12 21:22:09

Boffin, I'm not sure on resources. I wonder if you would find BS boring after Cambridge. Strangely DH and I dream about moving to Cambridge one day blush.

Dentists - there are loads, you'll get on an NHS list easily. GPs - not so good. There are two large surgeries, South St and Church St. Both have really poor reputations, both were in the bottom 10(?) in a recent PCT survey. We are registered at South St and its a nightmare getting appointments. Nearest A&E and hospital is Harlow which is -a-- scary place or you can beg for a referral to Addenbrookes but the GPs can be sniffy about it.

Schools are fab but the town doesn't have a great range of leisure facilities - there is a pool and gym at grange paddocks but otherwise most of the kids activities are run by private groups using school facilities which can be limited and/or expensive. For stuff like kids theatre and family days out we always end up going out of the town to Cambridge or London.

There is a new housing development at consultation stage near the cricket club - looks absolutely massive and I've no idea how the town will cope with it.

Don't let me put you off, it is a nice place to be ... Just I love Cambridge!

BoffinMum Mon 25-Jun-12 07:49:15

The problem with Cambridge is that housing supply is very limited, so most of us live in a necklace of villages around the city, where we get inferior services compared to our city counterparts in a lot of cases, especially in terms of childcare and nursery education, and transport.

Another thing about BS is that it could be anywhere - it seems to have suffered at the hands of 1960s town planners. The odd street looks suitably twee but it's lost a lot of character elsewhere. We also a lot of empty shops there compared to Cambridge as well.

I'm talking myself out of it, aren't I?

mrsnw Mon 25-Jun-12 19:46:37

Hehe at the Harlow comment. It's not that bad! There are more shops in harlow. So that's where I tend to shop. Mmmmm Cambridge or bishops stortford? I would say Cambridge. Bishop stortford is going to get much bigger. Just how train services, docs etc will cope remains to be seen. I would certainly move before the children start school as it is often hard to get them in after receptionx

Nix01 Fri 29-Jun-12 09:30:41

Thanks for your honesty. We'll keep it on the shortlist but keep on looking around.

ibiduni Sat 30-Jun-12 09:48:45

I have to chime in here with an essay as we moved to BS in Jan (well hubby came first in Nov last yr) and I have to say, I think we made a great choice. We moved from Manchester where we enjoyed city life and could escape the peaks etc at the drop of a hat.

My take on BS. If you're looking for a lovely place to raise the kids, get involved in community life and have a support network of (hopefully) like-minded people its great. I plan for us to stay here until the kid(s) are grown and then they can visit easily from Cambridge where of course they will be at University! : )

We live 5 minutes from town and love that we can stroll in. We're also 6/7 mins from the station which is great for commuting. There seems to be a shortage of 3 bed houses though.

Thorley Park is quite a bit 'estate', quite leafy in my opinion, park in the middle, I think 3 nurseries. Its a little too 'residential' for us (coming from city!) and I'd feel like a Bree Vandrkampf. That said, I have friends who live there and really like it. It has all that you would need on a day to day basis. Apparently, being 20-25 minutes from town is 'walking distance'. Obviously I'm either in too much of a rush or I'm lazy. Probably the latter : )_

St Michael's Mead - this is another big estate. Seems like people have this covered above. It looks very executive compared with thorley park but have no idea how close your nearest cornershop is! I personally like to b able to nip to the shop for milk rather than have no choice but to bundle little one in the car etc.

Where you pick depends on what your priorities are and whats on your 'must' list : )

My suggestion actually would be to consider renting (affordable) and then gt to know the areas before buying. We're doing this as are many families we know. I flt uncomfortable with making such a hug commitment to a place we knew little about for ourselves. Rent - yes its dead money, but you could se it as an investment into being able to make an informed decision : ) tehehe It also gives you more time to look for the perfect(!) house... just don't buy it before we do

We looked at Saplings (not in stortford but en route to cambridge). Its a lovely farm nursery. Really nice set up.

We decided on nursery closer to home though and so pleased we did. DD goes to Busy Bees in thorley park. I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THE MANAGER AND A LADY CALLED JO. It is BY FAR the best childcare we have paid for in the last 4 years and we worked it out the other day - we've spent close to £50k on childcare! can you imagine...

Busy bees in st michaels mead did not really impress me despite th shiny exterior.

This is the main reason that we chose this town. I think all the schools are good. DD is going to Northgate and we visited last week. IT IS AMAZING! It compares extremely favourably to the independent schools we viewed in manchester. We are thrilled. All the schools are good though and so are th secondary schools.

This is the trade off for us. It can b awful on a bad day. I drive to north london part of the week and train to central london the half. The train is fine imo. I've ALWAYS gotten a seat on the way to London, though have struggled sometimes on the way back. Trains are regular and quite reliable. M11 is easily accessible, but you may live at the mercy of the M25. Alternate routes are a10, a414 when ther ar accidents on the 25. Its good to have a back-up plan... the good thing is that when we come home we're happy about where we are...

You need to leave stortford if you want anything exciting (I use this term loosely)... There are only a fw clothing shops - very uninspiring. I'm a cosmopolitan soul and so wish I could get a falafel (authentic) or buy the African food stuffs easily that I like... again this is a trade off for the high quality education and community spirit which is why most people seem to have moved here - which is great cos you just seem to click with everyone

there are quite a few little coffee/tea rooms for such a small area. I really like this aspect of town. There are a couple of nic restaurants. I highly recommend HOST. There's lots for the kids to do.

I also love Cambridge which we travel to rather than live in. The reason for this is the extra leg of th commute into London wouldnt suit us. But Cambridge is just LOVELY - great for shopping, arts, and general culture there.
All in all, we're

LeeCoakley Sat 30-Jun-12 10:08:44

Can I comment on your link to the residential conversion in Sawbridgeworth? If you haven't seen it, it's right on the main road by a bus stop and currently next door to the secondary school. I say currently as 50-odd houses are in the process of being built to next to and behind that house on ex-school land. There is also no real garden. Hence the cheap price! On the plus side - 30 second walk to swimming pool, the new leisure centre in the school grounds and obviously the school itself (good rep), and a few minutes walk from centre and good primary schools.

TheSecondComing Sat 30-Jun-12 13:36:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kveta Sat 30-Jun-12 13:58:20

grin at the vegan society! I had no idea there was one here!!

TheSecondComing Sat 30-Jun-12 15:02:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nix01 Sun 01-Jul-12 09:20:07

Someone told me Thorley Park is abit "chavtastic" in their own words, is there any truth in this?

From what I'm hearing on MN, it seems like a decent family community? Feel free to send private messages if need be.

Bishops seems to tick all of our boxes, but I'm hearing so much conflicting information, I feel as if I'm back to square one and don't know what to do sad

Lee, that's really disappointing. I've mentioned on another thread that we're currently not in England, so we're househunting by internet as we arrive for a holiday and househunting end July so I need to substantially narrow the area's down.

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