Watford is situated 17 miles northwest of central London and inside the M25 motorway. Hertfordshire County Council designates Watford and Stevenage to be its major sub-regional centres. The primary shopping area is the Harlequin Shopping Centre, a large purpose-built indoor mall with over 140 shops, restaurants and cafes built during the 1990s, opened officially in June 1992. Watford began as a settlement in the 12th century when a market was granted to the Abbot of St. Albans as the lord of the manor. Watford was developed on the River Colne on land belonging to St Albans Abbey until the 16th century.