Located less than 40 miles north from central London, North Hertfordshire is a predominantly rural district and contains interesting market towns and numerous picturesque villages and hamlets. It is an attractive area in which to live and work, and has a wide variety of attractions including:
History and landscape
The district was formed in 1974 combining the former Urban Districts of Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston with Hitchin Rural District. It occupies the low chalk hills of the north-eastern Chilterns, extending north into the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire plain around Ashwell and Hinxworth, and south to the valley of the River Lea around Codicote.
The area south and west of Hitchin is dominated by small hamlets linked by a network of winding lanes with high hedgerows, while to the east of Baldock, the landscape is open, with few hedges and larger, more nucleated villages.
Each of the towns has a distinctive character: Hitchin, Baldock and Royston are medieval market towns, each retaining numerous historic buildings, while Letchworth Garden City is world famous as the first Garden City.
Shopping and markets
The towns offer a wide range of shopping facilities, combining high street names with traditional markets, interesting antique and craft centres and small speciality shops. Farmers' Markets are held regularly at Hitchin, Letchworth Garden City and Royston, selling a range of local produce.
The larger shopping centres of Stevenage, Luton, Welwyn Garden City and Watford are all within easy travelling distance of North Hertfordshire. In addition Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Lakeside and Bluewater are less than an hour by car.
North Hertfordshire is not dominated by a single large town: instead, Hitchin and Letchworth Garden City are roughly the same size (around 31,000 population each) and are only five kilometres (three miles) apart. The main council offices are located in Letchworth Garden City. Royston has an additional town council, funded through a parish precept.
The rural section of the North Hertfordshire District covers 127 square miles around the towns of Baldock, Hitchin, Letchworth and Royston and has boundaries with Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Essex. It is an important agricultural area with a few industries and in recent years it has grown considerably as a residential area with places such as Knebworth becoming almost small towns.