Outdoor kitchens? Smoking!

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.37.33Eating outside is one of the best things about summer – if it’s ever warm enough – but increasingly, now it’s also about cooking outside, too. Hot on the heels of the “outdoor room” with its lounge-style furniture, outdoor cushions and twinkling lanterns, comes the outdoor kitchen – not just a barbecue, but stoves, grills, ovens and even sinks, all specifically designed for your garden. Maybe global warming isn’t all bad, after all?

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California Grill
It’s no surprise that Orange County is the spiritual home of al fresco eating, with its year-round warmth. California brand Lynx design bespoke outdoor kitchens tat include five different sized grills, burners, griddle plates, smoker boxes and warming drawers, as well as cocktail stations (of course!), outdoor fridges and ice machines, and worktops, tailored to your space and lifestyle.
The original California Grill, that Lynx has been producing for 30 years, offers professional cooking and grilling for your garden.
Prices from £2860, 01275 343 000, www.lynx-grills.co.uk

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.46.42Morso outdoor fireplace
Combining Danish design with clean, cast-iron lines, this stylish outdoor stove is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at al fresco dinner parties. It functions both as a warming outdoor fireplace and also as an outdoor Tuscan Grill for perfect barbecued food. The fire itself can be turned according to the wind direction, while the tall chimney means your clothes won’t smell of camp-fire smoke in the way that fire pits do.
Morso Kamino fire £999 and Tuscan grill £90, www.morsoliving.co.uk

esse-fire-stone-optional-side-shelves-and-stand-450x450Esse Fire Stone
This British-made, steel, cast-iron and brick, wood-fired oven is a heavy-duty piece of kit, cooking at temperatures up to 550c, but it also looks good enough to adorn even the most glamorous patio or deck. It cooks pizzas in just two minutes, but you can also use it for baking, roasting, braising and char-grilling.
In fact, Esse – who have been making stoves since 1854 – asked two Michelin-starred chefs and River Cottage’s Gill Meller to test it out before they launched, so there’s no excuse for burning the burgers. £1800, www.esse.com

Perfect Garden Private View Event, The Manor House, Ayot St Lawrence.

Gaze Burvill
After years of clients asking for bespoke outdoor kitchens, Gaze Burvill launched its modular A la Carte kitchen range two years ago, and sales are soaring, despite a starting price of more than £2,000. Four different cabinets contain a sink, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances (a favourite oven with top chefs, including Aldo Zilli), a fridge and a warming drawer – which, as all Bake Off fans will know, is essential for proving your bread dough. www.gazeburvill.com

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.52.48Morso Forno
This futuristic outdoor oven is a thing of Scandinavian beauty – and it cooks a mean supper, too. Inside, the wide, low-ceilinged oven is shaped like an Italian stone oven and has plenty of space to push the firewood aside when it comes to cooking.
On the stone you can bake bread, pizza or slow-cook joints of meat. Add the Tuscan Grill into the oven and you can chargrill steaks and veggies.
Morso forno, £1,620 (small £895), www.woodburners.co.uk

Outdoor-GrillBig Green Egg
Yes, it looks like a huge hand grenade but this dome-lidded clay oven is actually a kamado – a Japanese stove where you can cook on direct heat, or indirectly using the deflector. You can also adjust the heat from 400c to 100c by releasing heat through a vent in the lid.
Think of it as an outdoor Aga, perfect for slow-cooking and roasting, but also for searing and crisping pizzas – serious al fresco chefs will love it.
From £750, www.johnlewis.com

Outdoor-Kitchen-cassandra2Fire Magic
Create a fully-designed outdoor kitchen around seriously smart barbecues, incorporating sinks, fridges, grills, ovens and worktops – they can even build an enclosure around it to compensate for the British summer.
The stainless steel, American-made Aurora A430 barbecue (it feels demeaning to even call it a barbecue) comes with four burners, a rotisserie kit and a back burner as well as a built-in digital thermometer, and can be built into an outdoor kitchen from £2,999. www.fire-magic.co.uk
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Weber Smokey Mountain
Want to create authentic pulled pork or smokey southern-style ribs? Then you’ll need a smoker, aka the hipster bbq, which adds more flavour to a traditional barbecue and cooks red meat, chicken and fish low and slow for juicy meat that falls off the bone, and it can also be used for hot smoking.
From £299, www.weberbbq.co.uk

original_eco-grill-all-natural-bbq-and-campfire

EcoGrill
The EcoGrill All Natural Barbecue by Eco Consumer Products is made from sustainably sourced, hollowed-out alder, and is designed to prolong the burning time of the charcoal. The disposable barbecue and fire pit burns away to nothing, leaving no waste.
£10, www.eco-consumer-products.co.uk

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This article first appeared in Metro on 4 August.

ALISON TYLER

 

 

Lime and Blueberry Ring Drizzle | The Times

Bake Off is back! Here’s a little taster to whet your appetite, courtesy of Mary Berry and The Times

blueberry lime ring

“Fresh limes and juicy blueberries add a lovely flavour, colour, and texture to this sponge. To get maximum juice, microwave the limes all together for 30–60 seconds before squeezing.”

Serves 24 200 calories per serving

Ingredients
225g butter (room temperature) or baking spread (at least 70 per cent fat), plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
2 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
Finely grated rind of 3 limes
100g blueberries
For the glaze
6 tbsp lime juice (from 3–4 limes)
175g granulated sugar
Special equipment
1.7 litre (3 pint) ring mould, 23cm (9in) diameter and 7.5cm (3in) deep; fine skewer

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C). Grease the ring mould. Cut about 8–10 strips of baking parchment, each 15 x 2.5cm (6 x 1in), and use them to line the mould.

2 Place the butter, caster sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk and lime rind and beat using an electric hand whisk for about 2 min until smooth.

3 Spoon half the mixture into the ring mould and level it, then scatter the blueberries over the top, keeping them away from the edge of the mould (this makes them less likely to stick). Spoon the rest of the mixture over the blueberries and spread it evenly with a palette knife to cover the fruit.

4 Bake for 35-40 min or until well risen and the top springs back when lightly pressed. While it bakes, make a glaze: mix the lime juice with the sugar and set aside. Leave the cake to cool in its tin for a few minutes, then loosen the side with a palette knife. Turn it out on to a wire rack set over a baking tray and peel off the lining strips.

5 While the cake is still warm, prick all over with the skewer. Stir the glaze, then spoon it over the warm cake. Leave to cool completely.

© Mary Berry 2014. Recipes extracted from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect — Step by Step by Mary Berry, published by Dorling Kindersley, and available from the Times Bookshop for £22.50 (RRP £25), free p&p on 0845 2712134;timesbooks.co.uk

Source: Lime and Blueberry Ring Drizzle | The Times

Travel: Down on the farm

Taking your little ones on a farm holiday is a great way to teach them about the changing seasons, first-hand, to get a healthy dose of fresh air, and to get them so giddy with excitement about meeting and caring the animals that they won’t even realise they’re learning about where food comes from and how nature works.

So dig out your wellies and waxed jacket and join the Joules set for delicious taste of the Great British countryside.

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The Dandelion Hideaway

Where is it: Nestled on the edge of the National Forest in Leicestershire, The Dandelion Hideaway has six canvas cottages dotted around the 250-acre farm and its woodland, arable and grassland.

What to do: Owners (and farmers) John and Sharon make friendly hosts and are keen to involve guests in farm life, from a guided walking tour of the farm with John to helping look after the hens and collecting the eggs, milking the goats and grooming the mini Shetland ponies. There’s also a farm shop and a brand new indoor children’s den play area. Budding Ray Mears-types might enjoy the new bushcraft skills courses, too.

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When it’s bedtime: This may be “glamping” but you get all the creature comforts you could hope for, including proper beds, en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths, a living area with a sofa, and a farmhouse kitchen complete with a dining table and a wood-burning stove. If you want isolation then opt for Bluebells Nest, a treehouse which sits by the wood and is perfect for two plus a baby (for larger families the adjoining Bluebells tent sleeps five more), while all of the other cottages sleep six – which will suit families with a growing brood. Older children will love the ‘secret’ third bedroom, housed in a wooden cabin within the tent.

Worth knowing: Pre-order one of Sharon’s farmhouse suppers that will be bubbling on the stove when you arrive, and the mini-tractors for toddlers are definitely worth pre-booking, too.

Canvas cottages sleep up to six, from £700 a week, www.coolrentalguide.com.

Pig bath

The Pig near Bath

Where is it: It sounds incongruous, a luxurious hotel based on a working farm, but The Pig is all about its surroundings. Set on a 500-acre farm, this Georgian house in deepest, rural Somerset is still within easy reach of Bath – a ten-minute drive away. The food in the hotel comes from the vast kitchen garden and fruit orchards, or is foraged from the land, while every egg comes from the farms hens.

Pig Bath

What to do: You may be on a farm, but there’s no roughing it here. Take a much-deserved hour of me-time in the Potting Shed Spa, which uses fab organic Bamford products; feast on the incredible food in the greenhouse restaurant, where almost all of the menu has been grown or reared on the farm or within 25 miles of the hotel; or don a pair of wellies and get muddy on the land. You can visit the pet pigs (rather than the bacon pigs out on the farm) and the chickens and quails, wander round the plot, greenhouse, smokehouse and orchards that feed the hotel, walk the nature trail around the farm, or head into the 20 acres of woodland and deer park in search of spring bluebells or summer wildflowers.

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When it’s bedtime: There are 29 delightfully shabby-chic (but absolutely NOT chintzy) bedrooms, with railway sleeper floorboards, sumptuous four-poster beds painted in Farrow & Ball tones, woodland inspired fabrics and huge roll-top baths.

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Worth knowing: If you’re really adventurous, you can go out with the hotel’s forager in search of mushrooms, wild garlic and other hedgerow bounty that makes it onto the daily menu. Each room comes with a free Nespresso machine and fridge larder stocked with complimentary goodies (it’s also handy for stashing baby purees!).

Double rooms from £139 a night, 0845 077 9494, www.thepighotel.com.

 makesureweusethis_regularguestswhosentinphoto

Nettlecombe Farm

Where is it: Relive your childhood holiday memories at Nettlecombe Farm on the Isle of Wight, where life feels reassuringly nostalgic. The 150-acre farm is just ten minutes from the beach at Ventnor and houses nine self-catering properties in cottages and converted milking parlours and stables.

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What to do: With donkeys, alpacas, goats, reindeer, Buff Orpington hens and a goose called Gordon and a peacock named Percy, Nettlecombe is not your average farm. Children are actively encouraged to meet and pet the animals and can even feed the lambs and piglets in spring. The idyllic setting, in rolling countryside, comes with three fishing lakes, a grassy play area with wooden play equipment including a tractor and Wendy house, as well as dedicated toddlers’ play area. The farm has also ensured that its facilities and accommodation are all accessible for disabled children so that everyone can enjoy the country life.

When it’s bedtime: The simple, stylish accommodation ranges from the converted blacksmith’s forge that sleeps three to farmhouses sleeping four or five and cottages that sleep as many as ten.

nettlecombe-farm-lake

Worth knowing: You can arrange a supermarket delivery for when you arrive so that you needn’t spend your holiday schlepping round the shops, while the laundry room will be a godsend. There’s a library – but whether you’ll find time for reading is another matter!

Various cottages that sleep from three (from £300 a week) up to ten (from £545 a week), 01983 730783, www.nettlecombefarm.co.uk.

dolphinholme-house-farm-north-west-england-lancashire-medium

Dolphinholme House Farm

Where is it: From your posh tent, beside the River Wyre – take a dip in it if you fancy a paddle or swim – you’ll feel at one with the fantastic natural playground surrounding you. The dairy farm, which is home to these glam tents, sits on the edge of the forest of Bowland in Lancashire, and is just fifteen minutes from the coast, should you fancy a picnic on the beach.

dolphinholme-house-farm-north-west-england-lancashire-large

What to do: The farm is home to hens (and children are encouraged to collect the eggs from the coop each day), dogs, cats, ducks and rabbits, as well as goats – it is primarily a dairy farm. You can help to milk, feed and care for the animals, then head to the Farm Larder to pick up some bread and cheese made using the milk ready for a picnic lunch. The all-weather play barn has a sandpit, swing and giant slide, but if the weather’s on your side, then go and build a den in the farm’s woodland.

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When it’s bedtime: As a Feather Down Farm Days site, you are guaranteed a top-notch tent that’s fully equipped with real beds and a wood-burning stove, and a working, flushable loo – which you’ll be thankful of when your little one needs to go ”right now” at 5am!

Worth knowing: Choose the “with frills” package and you’ll get your own private hot tub and shower, right outside your tent. And if you pre-book the premier service you’ll be greeted with your stove lit, candles aglow, beds made up, jacket potatoes in the oven and hot drinks in your tent on arrival – and relax…

Tents sleep six and cost from £245 for a four-night stay (01420 80804, www.featherdown.co.uk).

 

kinikini farm

Our favourite city farms – and they’re all FREE!

Heeley City Farm, Sheffield

This small-but-perfectly-formed farm sits on just four acres and is home to sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes and tarantulas. There’s a playground and fab café too, with farm-grown veg on the menu.

0114-258 0482, heeleyfarm.org.uk

 

Mudchute Farm, London

While Mudchute Farm is big – at 32 acres one of the largest in Europe – you won’t forget you’re in the capital thanks to the backdrop of Canary Wharf and the City. The River Café-trained chefs in the café are another reminder. Thankfully the horses, llamas, sheep, pigs, giant rabbits and hens will help you to forget all that for a while, at least.

020-7515 5901, mudchute.org

 

Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh

It’s said that babies love looking at owls because their faces look quite human. So it’s worth betting that your tots will probably enjoy this farm, which has an owl, small pets and farm animals, as well as a play area, café, gardens and farm shop.

0131-337 4202, gorgiecityfarm.org.uk

 

Swansea Community Farm, Wales

Hidden away behind the old Walker’s crisp factory, you’d be forgiven for not realising that this farm existed. But it’s well worth seeking out: there are all sorts of farm animals alongside rare Welsh sheep and pigs.

01792 578384, swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

 

Bath City Farm, Somerset

In the heart of this Georgian city, you’ll find Aberdeen Angus cows, Tamworth pigs and Orpington chickens to name just a few. Several footpaths cross it and visitors are welcome to climb in over one of the many stiles or through a kissing gate rather than being directed through a single entrance.

01225 481269, bathcityfarm.org.uk

 

Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham

Urban, edgy Nottingham is the last place you’d expect to find a farm. This one may be small, but its got lambs and rabbits galore, as well as a café, shop, sensory garden and play area.

0115 9505113, stonebridgecityfarm.com

 

 

 

Great farms for day trips:

Big Sheep Little Cow, North Yorkshire

With a pig called Flossie and a tortoise named Flash, this compact farm has a vast range of animals that you’ll get to meet, hold, groom and feed as you take an exciting guided tour around the farmyard. It’s ideal for little ones as it’s not too big and the animals are friendly, too (even our 11-month old enjoyed stroking the anmals). The indoor soft play area is worth the entrance fee alone – the whizzy slide with its ball pool-landing is not to be missed!

Entry £6.95 (under 1s free), Bedale, 01677 422125, www.farmattraction.co.uk

 

Home Farm, The Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

Specialising in rare breed sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and horses (as well as some noisy ducks and geese), this traditional farm is neatly arranged for little legs and has some fun extras including mini tractors, a straw bale maze and a milking machine. There are daily animal feedings and children can help to groom the donkeys, too.

Adult £7.90, child £5.20 (under 5s free) or half price for National Trust members, Royston, 01223 206000, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Godstone Farm, Surrey

Nestled in a the folds of the Surrey and north Kent weald, this picturesque outdoor farm is ideal for sunny days thanks to its huge outdoor play area. The animals are spread out around a winding path down the gentle hill to the farmyard where you’ll find a “touch” barn of animals that children can pet and also hold (think rabbits, guinea pigs and hens). You can join in with feeding the pigs and ducks, take a hay-wagon ride, or head to the enormous play barn that will tire out even the most energetic of toddlers,

Entry £6.25 (under 1s free, 1-2 years £2.25), Godstone, 01883 742546, www.godstonefarm.co.uk

 

Pennywell Farm, Devon

The award-winning Pennywell Farm is not cheap but the entry includes half-hourly events and displays, a tractor and trailer ride, a train ride, and even a go-kart ride. The farms most famous residents are the micro pigs, which are just too cure for words, but you’ll find all the usual farm animals and smaller petting animals, too.

Adult £12.95, child £9.95 (under 3s free), Buckfastleigh, 01364 642023, www.pennywellfarm.co.uk

ALISON TYLER

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 In praise of church conversions

 

Church conversions offer heavenly architectural features, soaring heights and quirky contemporary living spaces – usually at the heart of a community

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It’s not just buyers that love a church conversion, for developers they are a dream project, the chance to create a landmark residence, with unique living spaces. But taking on the double-height windows, crumbling spires, and leaking lead roofs is not a job for the feint-hearted, and it takes an experienced architect to sensitively configure the space. There is little more depressing than a badly converted church. Get it right though, and the results are remarkable.

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The 19th-century Saint Paul’s Church in Battersea was in a sorry state when developer Nick Laurence spotted it in 2013, but given the how rarely they come to market he jumped at the chance to buy it. “I was captivated by its potential and I could see that we could retain the church’s originality and ecclesiastical architecture, yet make intelligent adaptations to the existing structure and layout,” explains Laurence.

Today, the outside of the church looks much the same, although there’s a new roof that Laurence’s team travelled the country to source and completely reconditioned stained glass windows – but inside it has been divided in to four completely bespoke apartments across three new floors, the Apse, the Cloister, the Spire and the Tower.

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Throughout, the renovation has been as sympathetic as possible. “The church brought with it an innate sense of calm and a sanctuary away from London’s fast pace, so we sought to perpetuate that with the most natural materials that would complement rather than juxtapose the original edifice,” says Laurence. “We worked closely with our interior designer, Sarah Reed, to identify and retain as much of the church’s identity as possible.”

The three-bedroom Apse apartment is framed by double-height stained glass windows, while open plan living, dining and kitchen areas offer contemporary counterpoint. Any additions that have been made are based on century’s old stonework and hues, with tactile surfaces finished in oak, limestone, marble, linen and velvet to reflect the church’s timeless feel.

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“The Apse is a great example of how we’ve expanded on the existing structure with a new staircase, conceived to resemble a pulpit, with a thick rope bannister to evoke the ropes that ring church bells. We even handmade Gothic style arched doors.”

A mezzanine floor, complete with a library built into a huge arch that was the former altar, overlooks the living area and also harbours a hidden door in the library wall that leads to the jewel in the crown of the apartment: a 550-square-foot master bedroom suite.

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But it’s the Spire apartment, that includes the church bell tower, where the renovation of this project really comes to life. Laurence has turned it into a folly within the apartment – it is breathtaking, and offers its lucky owner panoramic views of the city. While some would have dismissed it as an unworkable space, Laurence has installed a viewing platform, which is wired for sound and illuminated by a five-metre-long, hand blown glass chandelier.

“We had a team of 12 joiners on site constructing a specially made wooden spiral staircase to provide access to this stunning space,” he explains.

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“Even after being on site for 18 months – at times with a team of 40 experts, overcoming obstacles and working with the challenges of a 160 year old church – I still find the building utterly compelling,” says Laurence. “Every visitor is awestruck.”

It’s rare to find such a well-restored and sensitively converted church, especially one that was formerly in such a state of disrepair – perhaps of this derelict building it was a case of divine intervention.

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The apartments at The Sanctuary are on the market from £1,650,000. Douglas & Gordon’s Battersea office on 020 7924 2000 or Winkworth’s Battersea office on 020 7228 9265.

Divine inspiration, three more ecclesiastical conversions:

St Joseph’s Gate, Mill Hill

Throughout the design and transformation of this Grade II-listed seminary, set in seven acres of grounds, the developer Berkeley has retained a host of original features, including the ornate Victorian staircases, imposing, feature windows and ornamental ironwork, all meticulously restored to its former grandeur. There are 59 luxury apartments in the gated development, starting from £899,995, and the showhome launched last week, contact 020 7718 5202, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

The Lourdes Collection, Fulham

This historic Victorian Fulham church newly converted into nine luxury apartments, with a very modern feel, is moments from West Brompton underground. There are still three, two-bedroom apartments available, from £975, 000, 020 7368 4830, www.marshandparsons.co.uk

 

Oakfield Court, Bristol

Further afield, this new development launches in September and comprises 16 one- and two-bed apartments over four floors set within a beautifully converted church in Bristol’s highly desirable Clifton area. Expect kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, high-vaulted ceilings, and even the church’s original arches – all have been retained and restored as part of the sympathetic conversion.

Prices from £225,000, 0117 317 1999, www.knightfrank.co.uk

 

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A home fit for an architect

A micro-development of just three townhouses in a quiet, leafy Clapham street just off the Common by world-renowned architects Squire and Partners, famed for their flagship projects such as Chelsea Barracks and One Tower Bridge – it’s an intriguing combination.

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So when I met Henry Squire at one of the contemporary interpretations of a Victorian villa one sunny morning last week I wanted to find out more. It turned out that he hadn’t had far to come; his father and business partner, architect Michael Squire lives just two doors down.

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“This is the street I grew up on, and Dad moved here 30 years ago, so when we saw this old Eighties office block was up for sale – which never made sense on this very residential street – we just had to buy it,” explains Henry.

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Who better then, to take on the project of creating three new family homes than someone who already knows all the neighbours, and knows what people in the area are looking for.

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While they are undoubtedly “wow” homes they don’t look out of place and don’t overshadow or bully any of the neighbouring properties. There’s a modesty and simplicity about them from the outside – the huge picture windows still feel discreet somehow, while the bespoke metalwork on the balcony have been designed to mirror detailing that can be seen elsewhere in the road.

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Inside it is huge, with clean lines, and confident oversized parquet floors to match the spacious hallway, cloakroom, living room and library spaces on the upper ground floor. But there is still a sense of the Victorian villa here – in the drawing room there’s a real stone, marble-plinth fireplace; rich American black walnut timber has been used for all of the windows; the staircase curves up through the entire building and you can look up through all of the three floors to the top of the house.

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“We could have put in a lift, but I was just against it morally,” explains Henry. “I know we might lose a couple of buyers because of it but a family house like this shouldn’t have a lift – and you’d rarely climb all six floors at once. The same goes for comfort cooling, I just don’t believe a house like this needs it, you can just open the windows.” Although Henry does admit that they have installed comfort cooling in the bedrooms – these are the kinds of demands that international buyers want, and it is changing the shape of development in London, but Henry is confident about who will want this house and why.

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At the top of the building, three storeys up, a top floor media room have balconies on either side of the building, below it are six bedrooms, three of which have balconies. The master suite is luxuriously generous in size with a large, dressing area and a vast en-suite bathroom where Filetto marble combines with large porcelain tiles by Domus to create a serene, contemporary-but-not-too-cool finish.

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“We’ve deliberately kept it feeling neutral with room to personalise the space,” says Henry.

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“If we’d tiled it wall-to-wall there’s no opportunity for a buyer to make it there’s, so as the architect you have to hold back and restrain yourself a little.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.32.50

The real selling point of this home, beyond its fantastic proportions and high quality finish, can be found on the lower ground floor.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.31

A separate, glass-sided staircase leads downstairs and is a taste of what to expect. Once downstairs you arrive at an entirely open-plan super-room that houses the kitchen, dining room, family snug, and a light-filled garden living room, separated by the rest of the room by a glass “sock” as Henry calls it. Sliding floor-to-ceiling glass doors span the entire back of the house, opening up the garden and living space seamlessly, while the walnut floor running the length of the inside gives a feeling of continuity. It is incredibly impressive without feeling brash, or smug, or over-the-top.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.12

“We could have put in a £250,000 kitchen, but again I just don’t think the house it needs it,” says Henry. “There’s not that much difference between a £50,000 kitchen and a £250,000 kitchen and it was important to us that it blends with the space well and functions well – this one is from SieMatic.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.31.46

The Ceaserstone Osprey worktops and Filetto marble splashback feel as expensive as they look, while the copper pendant lights by Tom Dixon add a dash of contemporary colour into the mix. But you can see it would make a hard-working family kitchen in what is the ultimate family space. It’s a 21st-century version of knocking through the walls of a Victorian home that so many families have done up and down the capital, “our interpretation of the bourgeois break-through,” says Henry.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.28.34

Is it every architect’s dream to build their own home, I wonder? The answer, if this project is anything to go by, is “yes”. Henry’s father Michael Squire has actually moved into one of the three houses, leaving just two left for sale. And if it’s good enough for one of the world’s leading architects…

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.27.48

The houses at Macaulay Road, Clapham are priced at £6.75 million, contact Savills on 020 3430 6900, www.savills.com.

ALISON TYLER

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    A raft of new sky-piercing towers is springing up at Canary Wharf - allowing new residents to live the high life, in more ways than one Berkeley Homes has built a reputation on being a bit special, as their managing director Harry Lewis says “we don’t do any ‘standard’ products,…
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Manhattan meets East London

A raft of new sky-piercing towers is springing up at Canary Wharf – allowing new residents to live the high life, in more ways than one

South Quay Plaza
South Quay Plaza

Berkeley Homes has built a reputation on being a bit special, as their managing director Harry Lewis says “we don’t do any ‘standard’ products, each development is bespoke and hand-picked. We pick our projects very carefully – it keeps us honest and it makes what we do different and full of character. We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach.”

And there is certainly nothing cookie-cutter about their latest project. It is extraordinary: a gleaming, slimline glass tower designed by Foster + Partners sitting at the crossroads of two docks, right opposite South Quay DLR and on a direct path (once they’ve built a bridge across the dock) to the Jubilee line and Crossrail station.

It wouldn’t look out of place in downtown Manhattan or Hong Kong and in an instant it has made the rest of Canary Wharf look dated and clunky – which is no mean feat.

South Quay Plaza will be surrounded by "pocket" parks
South Quay Plaza will be surrounded by “pocket” parks

It is brave and bold and startlingly tall, soaring to 68 storeys, making it the UK’s tallest residential scheme (ahead of the Shard, whose penthouse sits on the 64th and 65th floors). Around the base of the two diamond-shaped towers, angled to make the most of the sunlight and dual-aspect position on the dock, there will be 10,000 square feet of retail and dining space as well as a public park and gardens for the apartments – in fact 1.6 acres of the three-acre site will be given over to the gardens and space around the buildings. “It will be really something unique for this neighbourhood where most sites occupy more than 90 per cent of the site that they are on, it will give something back to the area by offering space and public gardens, which will bring life into the area, too, so there will be a really buzzy atmosphere,” explains architect and master-planner Grant Brooker a senior partner at Foster + Partners. “Tall buildings are the right answer for this area, but you have to generate life around them and set the buildings in a ‘place’ – high rise is all about getting the design right and about what you give back, there has to be a trade-off.”

South Quay Plaza's retail and social space
South Quay Plaza’s retail and social space

And the glass towers certainly have the “wow” factor – they will be little wider than two average-sized houses once built, but the sheets of glass, with lots of angles cut in to bring even more light through the building, feel airy and transparent so that despite the height, it is incredibly elegant and unobtrusive. “I knew I wanted something really spectacular,” explains Lewis, “so we sent out the tender to six of the very best architecture firms, but the Foster + Partners’ plan was so brilliant, they had us at ‘hello’.”

It seems the Tower Hamlets planners were equally enamoured as the plans went through without any significant changes at all, bar a reduction in height by five storeys (“they were worried that planes might not see it,” says Brooker), which is virtually unheard of.

There will 888 homes at South Quay Plaza, from suites to three-beds and penthouses, but Lewis doesn’t look worried about selling them, the workforce in Canary Wharf is predicted to double by 2025 and average earnings here are the highest in the country, while property prices are expected to grow by 37 per cent over the next four years, compare to a London average of 29.4 per cent.

“This is the start of a new era for Canary Wharf,” Brooker tells me. “First came the office phase, and more recently is has been all about embracing retail and the emergence of entertainment and dining spaces. Now it is time for the residential story to develop – it’s the natural next step.”

A new bridge between the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf and Marsh Wall will drive footfall through the space, creating a vibrant destination
A new bridge between the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf and Marsh Wall will drive footfall through the space, creating a vibrant destination

The floor-to-ceiling windows, interiors also designed by Foster + Partners, and the inclusion of residents’ facilities such as a vast wellness centre with a pool and gym, and a club occupying the entire 56th floor with an outdoor terrace that will feature two bars, a lounge, screening room, dining rooms and meeting rooms, even a homework room for children and a crèche, all make this a building to live in, not just a trophy home.

And where Berkeley lead, the well-heeled, and other developers, follow. They are the Waitrose of the building world. So you can expect a small forest of shiny new residential towers to spring up in South Quay Plaza’s wake – in fact by 2020 there will be more than 5,000 residential homes here, that’s a whole new town. Get ready Canary Wharf, things are about to get a whole lot more lively.

South Quay Plaza launches on 14 July with suites starting from £490,000, www.southquayplaza.london

 

Towering in the East –  new developments reaching for the skies in Docklands

10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive
10 Park Drive

10 Park Drive

The current site of Wood Wharf will become a new mixed-use district of offices, retail, parks, a hotel, school and more than 3,000 apartments, filling a currently languishing site on the east side of the Canary Wharf Estate – incredibly these residential homes are the first ever to be built on the Canary Wharf estate in its 30-year history.

Numerous big name architects will be involved from Herzog & de Meuron to Grid, Make and Stanton Williams, who are responsible for 10 Park Drive, the first tower of some 30 buildings that will be constructed here. There are 345 studio, one and two-bed apartments with a residents’ roof terrace in the 13-storey tower that will adjoin another, 42-storey tower. Residents will also have membership to a health and fitness club. The apartments launch on 9 July with prices from £395,000, www.canarywharf.com/residential.

Harbour Central
Harbour Central

Harbour Central

Comprising five residential buildings, a leisure complex and park, Galliard Homes’ Harbour Central sits moments from South Quay DLR. Its flagship Art-Deco-style tower, Maine Tower, will be 42 storeys high and has been conceived as a “vertical village” with social spaces on various levels, from a library and cinema to a gym, spa and residents’ club. The interiors have been designed by Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design, bringing Miami glamour to Docklands.

The 297 studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments at Maine Tower, launched at the weekend, with prices from £350,000, www.harbourcentral.com

Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay
Dollar Bay

Dollar Bay

A little further down South Dock from South Quay Plaza, and sitting opposite the Wood Wharf site, developer Mount Anvil is constructing Dollar Bay, 111 apartments from studios to three bedrooms, with a winter garden for every apartment, a residents’-only garden, gym and lounge. The glossy, glass tower has been created by Ian Simpson Architects and will have unrivalled views over the river to Greenwich. Register an interest ahead of their launch at www.mountanvil.com

Newfoundland-2014-1-1024x576-741x417

Newfoundland Tower
Newfoundland Tower

Newfoundland Tower

On the western side of the Canary Wharf Estate, dubbed the diamond building because of its diamond-like supporting frame (rather like the Gherkin), Newfoundland Tower will be 58 storeys tall, housing 566 apartments, when it completes in 2017. www.canarywharf.com/residential

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Just beachy – 11 brilliant seaside escapes

It’s that time of year when nothing beats an ice cream, a paddle in the sea and a relaxing rest on a British beach, just watching the hazy horizon and breathing in the briny air.

Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images
Birling Gap, photo by John Miller, National Trust Images

I was at Birling Gap on Saturday with my kids throwing pebbles into the water and digging in the (tiny patch of) sand – the sun shone and a sea breeze rippled through the grassy cliffs above.

It’s a National Trust beach and so is wonderfully managed and clean – here are some of my other NT faves for a family adventure…

Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Kynace Cove, Cornwall, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall
When you think of Cornwall, you think of beaches and what better place to spend time as a family than this dramatic and historic stretch of the Cornish coast. Lizard Point, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is a great place to admire some spectacular views and to take a treasured family photograph. Kynance Cove is a hidden gem of the Cornish coast and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This beach is a must for all sun-lovers and sea-paddlers where you can experience incredible scenery, white sand and clear turquoise waters. At low tide you can descend the steps down to the sand and picnic on the shore. Facilities on the beach include the renowned green toilets and a fantastic café which serves food between Easter and November. The Lizard’s other top beaches include: Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Cove and Mullion Cove.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Jump over waves
· Go on a barefoot walk
· Catch a crab

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard

 

Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images
Studland Beach, photo by David Levenson, National Trust Images

Studland Beach, Dorset
Studland’s scenic four mile stretch of golden sand has something for everyone to enjoy. In the summer the beach comes truly alive, with many taking to the seas in the boats available to hire. This safe and friendly beach is perfect for picnics and for building sandcastles, and the heathland that lies behind it has a treasure trove of wildlife for kids to explore. With gently shelving bathing waters and views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight, the beach is an ideal place for water sports and to watch the world go by. If you fancy making a day of it why not hire a National Trust beach hut and tick off some of those ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities with the kids. Be sure to bring buckets and spades with you for a blissful day on the sands.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Catch a fish with a net
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/studland-beach/

 

Woolacombe dog John Millar
Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Woolacombe JOhn Millar
Walkers above Woolacombe Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Woolacombe beach, Devon
This beautiful three mile stretch of coastline has plenty of things to see and do for all. Rolling hills provide a wonderful backdrop to a beach where many come to swim and surf on sunny days. In the summer holidays you’ll find National Trust beach rangers on hand to show little ones how to go on rock pool safaris and build the best sandcastles for miles around. Baggy Point and Morte Point – also known as the ‘stegosaurus back’ – are both perfect for rock scrambling. If it’s a walk that you prefer, the South West coastal path will take you on a journey around the enticing coves and distinctive slate cliffs that the area is so well known for.

Best Beach Activities:
· Create some wild art
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Jump over waves or go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolacombe-mortehoe-ilfracombe/

 

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature Reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is rich with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families looking for a great day out. Head to the shingle beach for a walk along the shoreline where you can witness the constantly changing coastline. Late summer sees a patchwork of purple and yellow heather come into full bloom, making it an unmissable experience. The beach is rich in wildlife with Dartford warblers, nightjars, and woodlark ready to spot. There are plenty of activities to get involved with as well, especially for families wanting to keep the kids entertained, including geocache trails, scavenger hunts and flying kites in the summer sunshine.

Best Beach Activities:
· Skim a stone
· Jump over waves
· Go stargazing
· Fly a kite

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwich-heath-and-beach/

 

Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Sandy flats at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Brancaster and Blakeney, North Norfolk Coast
With four miles of golden sand, Brancaster beach is the perfect place for a family day out. Famous for its mussels, the fishing village of Brancaster Staithe lies on the shores of the beautiful north Norfolk coast. The Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the coast, and you can launch a boat and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island.

Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images
Brancaster harbour, National Trust Images

If you continue a little further along the coast you can enjoy miles of golden sand for long or short walks, find great places for building sandcastles and designated areas for power kiting sports. There are so many things to see and explore at Blakeney; crabbing is a must for all ages or you can take time out and relax with a view at Blakeney Point.

Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Seal at Blakeney Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

The area is home to a colony of common and grey seals that can be seen most of the year from any of the seal boat trips that leave from Morston Quay.

Best Beach Activities:
· Catch a crab
· Make a mud pie
· Canoe down a river
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brancaster-estate/
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney/

The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
The beach at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters Coast, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Birling Gap, East Sussex
Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk. Spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea can be seen for miles and the beach below is ideal for seaside picnics and exploring the craggy rocks. The whole family can hunt for fossils on the beach and this is a great time of year to uncover hidden treasures. With a south-west-facing beach, Birling Gap is also one of the best spots to surf in the South East. If you’re feeling a bit peckish after a day on the sands, head to the relaxed clifftop cafe where there’s delicious lunches, outdoor seating and uninterrupted sea views.

Best Beach Activities:
· Hunt for fossils and bones
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Skim a stone

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters/

Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Isle of Wight, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Welcome to the 50 Things Island just a 30 minute ferry ride away from the mainland, where you can tick off lots of adventures in the great outdoors. Compton Bay is a spectacular spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcasing some of the best beach side scenery around. It has a firm sandy beach – perfect for sandcastle building, and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it’s great for swimming. It isn’t too crowded either, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond. This family friendly beach also has a section open for dog walkers all year round, making it a great trip out for a walk, whilst also offering a brilliant space for surfing and swimming. The bay is one of the best places on 50 Things Island to follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Look carefully and you can find many dinosaur footcasts on the sandy beach. Nodes Point near St Helens Duver is an excellent place for exploring the hidden wildlife in rock pools and if you look carefully see what you can discover in the pools once the tide’s gone out.

Best Beach Activities:
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Fly a kite
· Jump over waves
· Go swimming in the sea

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight

Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Stackpole Head, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South. This summer, get up close and personal with the Pembrokeshire coast with an adrenaline-fuelled session. Barafundle is regularly voted among the top beaches in the world and is a great place to go rock pooling, paddling and building sandcastles. This golden horseshoe backed by gorse-flecked dunes and woodland is accessible only via steep steps in the limestone cliffs on either side and is a great place for a swim. Freshwater West, six miles west of the estate, is a great surf beach and Stackpole Quay is the perfect place to launch your kayak or to try some coasteering along the rocky coastline.

Best Beach Activities:
· Camp out in the wild
· Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
· Catch a crab
· Go on a barefoot walk

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/

 

Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Flying a kite at Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Swansea
With some of the most splendid views on the Welsh coast, you won’t want to miss this magnificent three mile long beach. If you stand at Rhossili Down, you can see not only the peninsula, but the coast of west Wales and the north Devon coast visible on the horizon. With its breathtaking clifftops, and wonderful bay, it’s a perfect place to spend summer days with all your friends and family.

People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
People walking above Rhossili Bay, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

To stretch the legs, you can take the level walk from the National Trust shop and Visitor Centre along the cliff top to the Old Coastguard Lookout where they would have kept watch for ships in trouble on the high seas. This beautiful site is perfect for all kinds of activities, from walks and swimming to surfing and kite-flying.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jumping over waves
· Catch a fish with a net
· Go swimming in the sea
· Try rock climbing

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rhossili-and-south-gower-coast/

 

 

Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images
Rockpooling, photo by John Millar, National Trust Images

Embleton and Newton Links, Northumberland Coast
Embleton Bay is a magnificent stretch of sand and dunes between Low Newton and the majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perfect for an easy wander with the family. The fourteenth-century ruins dominate the horizon, but you will also find a whole variety of wildflowers living amongst the dunes. With the backdrop of the Castle, this fine sandy beach is one of the most spectacular in England. It’s popular for paddling, building sandcastles and has some great surf conditions as well. Low Newton by the sea has a natural rock harbour and golden beach sheltered from the tides by an offshore reef – it’s an excellent place for marine wildlife and spotting birds.

Best Beach Activities:
· Go bird watching
· Fly a kite
· Catch a fish with a net
· Jump over waves

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/embleton-and-newton-links/

 

Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images
Formby Point, photo by Joe Cornish, National Trust Images

Formby, Liverpool
The sweeping sands of Formby beach entice people from miles around to come and enjoy a bracing day out. With plenty of space for everyone, families can run and play to their hearts content. Spectacular sky-scapes can be glimpsed at sunset and if you stand on top of the sand dunes the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The glorious sandy beaches of Formby are perfect for family picnics, coastal walks, wave jumping, kite flying or just lazy days at the beach. A closer look reveals thickets of pine woodland which are home to cherished local celebrities, the red squirrels. Check out the signage to find out about the surprising history of the beach from prehistoric footprints to asparagus farming. A coffee cart and ice cream van are onsite most days so why not enjoy a tasty treat with the sand between your toes.

Best Beach Activities:
· Jump over waves
· Fly a kite
· Create some wild art
· Find a Geocache

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/

ALISON TYLER

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A new Wimbledon ace

For Catherine Beagley, the sales and marketing director at Berkeley Homes (West London), the restoration and conversion of the former Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, couldn’t have come soon enough.

showMedia

 

A Wimbledon girl all her life, she can remember the days when this was a working neurosurgical hospital and the many years that it has been closed and neglected since the last patient was treated in 2003.

Some of that neglect is evident as we work our way around the Victorian building – graffiti on the walls, remnants of fires and teenage vandalism that come with a derelict building, can be seen. You’d never imagine that this was once one of the world’s most advanced brain surgery centres.

But when Beagley and the team of architects and developers first walked around the site they could instantly see the potential “As soon as we walked the site we were buzzing with ideas about what we could do with it, where you could instantly see an incredible duplex apartment with a mezzanine and a vaulted ceiling, or how you could convert the chapel into its own self-contained apartment complete with the stained glass windows and wood panelling. Seeing inside the building, it just made sense.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 14.47.11

She’s not the only one who is excited to see the transformation of what is a landmark local building. “Local people are really excited about the historic project and the level of interest is really high – people are clawing at the door to get in,” says Beagley of the highly anticipated launch of the apartments in the hospital building. “If you live locally, you cannot fail to want to see this building restored to its former glory. Working on this project, it’s one of those sites that you just know you’re going to be really proud of when it’s finished.”

The development of the historic space, which opened in 1869, has not been easy – in some places, around the soaring double-height bay windows there are cracks large enough to put your hand through, in others the beautiful curved brick ceilings are being protected and supported by a form of spray-on concrete that will hold them in place so that the detailing can be retained.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 14.47.39

It will be worth it though as period buildings, with their characterful features and interesting spaces, are a real draw for buyers who want the charm and personality. But most modern buyers also want the security of a new-home guarantee, of double-glazing and efficient heating. Character conversions such as this are the ideal compromise.

“Everyone loves a conversion,” says Beagley. “There’s a status thing to live in a grand building, but you get the best of both worlds as you don’t have the upkeep and maintenance that comes with an old building.”

It doesn’t get much more grand than the penthouse triplex apartment, which will even come with its own turret and Victorian wrought-iron railings – and a glorious south-facing view over formal gardens, and then landscaped mature parkland, followed by open playing fields – you almost can’t see another house around.

wimbledon hill 7-718x475w

One of the most exciting things about working with an old building like this is that the architects have top work with what already exists, so you get some really unique spaces – the duplex apartments in the wings of the hospital will have double aspect windows and mezzanine floors to make the most of the extraordinarily high ceiling heights.

Under the building there will be parking with a lift, while the development will also house a gym, concierge and a business lounge with wifi and a meeting room. And as part of the redevelopment of the site, Berkeley Homes is refurbishing Morley Park spots pavilion, which will provide sports facilities for the pupils at Ursuline High School which neighbours the parkland. As a former Ursuline girl herself, it’s no wonder Beagley feels proud of the project. “This site has got everything,” she says, “it’s a dream to work on.”

And for a very lucky few, it will be a dream to live in, too.

Wellington Row, the centrepiece historic hospital conversion at The Wimbledon Collection, launches this September. Two bedroom apartments at the development start at £1.15 million.  Find out more at www.berkeleygroup.co.uk or to register an interest call 0208 003 6139 or email sales@wimbledonhillpark.co.uk.

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Is this the future of housing?

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When Toyota launched its eco-friendly Prius car, Hollywood A-listers including Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio clamoured to be seen driving the green machine.

Now developer FABRICA is hoping to set a similar pioneering trend in the homes market as they launch Elmsbrook this month, the first true large-scale zero-carbon residential development in the UK, on the outskirts of Bicester in Oxfordshire.

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Architects Farrells has a reputation for blazing a sustainability trail and their work on Elmsbrook has won it a global award for eco efficiency and sustainable living.

“With Elmsbrook, we are anticipating the future of house building. The technology that we are implementing might appear cutting edge today, but eventually this will become the norm and we anticipate that everyone will be living eco consciously,” explains Sir Terry Farrell, partner at Farrells.

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So while it may please you to learn that the 393 homes will be built with zero waste to landfill, developed with 30 per cent less carbon than a typical building and with sustainable materials, or that rainwater harvesting will reduce your water use, while solar roof panels and triple-glazing will make them super-energy efficient, the burning question is still: will you want to live there?

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What will probably sell the homes to most people – aside from the smaller bills and smug conscience – will be the idyllic countryside, on the edge of the Cotswolds, where Soho House is about to open a new outpost this month, and the Cornbury music festival will be on your doorstep.

The homes themselves will be sleek, modern and feature hotel style bathrooms, Siemens kitchens, ridiculously fast broadband (100mb per second), and an energy-tracking tablet in each home, that will tell you everything from how much energy you are using to when the next bus is due. Your garage will come with a green meadow roof.

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It doesn’t end with the houses – a new primary school, nursery, community hall, shops, cafes, business centre and even an eco-pub are all part of the plans.

As Rosie Nesbitt, group director sales and marketing at FABRICA comments: “While the eco-credentials inherent to Elmsbrook will appeal to eco-conscious purchasers – indeed, the electric car charging points will power a Prius – the houses have been designed to offer hassle-free, environmentally friendly homes for those who are simply looking for an attractive setting in which to purchase their first property, bring up a family or enjoy their retirement.”

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Perhaps the best part of the plan is what the developer isn’t doing: 40 per cent of the land will be left as green space – think communal orchard, allotments, and children’s play areas – with “wildlife” corridors running through the development.

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A neighbourhood with herb boxes on every street and an electric car club? We could certainly live with that.

Prices from £295,000, www.Elmsbrook.co.uk

Highly-developed interiors

Step away from the magnolia paint. The latest property developments are teaming up with star interior designers to give their homes the wow factor

Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio is behind the lofts at Upper Riverside, Greenwich Peninsula
Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio is behind the lofts at Upper Riverside, Greenwich Peninsula

Showhomes can be a bit like churches – beautiful to look at but once you’ve seen a few they all merge into one. The trouble is that they’ve become so neutral, with palettes of dove grey, café latte and cream, and their ubiquitous “luxury hotel” look that buyers struggle to distinguish one gloss white open-plan kitchen diner from the next.

If last decade has been all about the big-name starchitect building, the next will be about the interiors, too, as some brave developers are enlisting the help of the biggest names in interior design and styling.

Nicola Fontanella's Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central
Nicola Fontanella’s Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central

“The public is demanding more interesting spaces; social media such as Pinterest is making people increasingly aware and excited by architecture and design so the more pedestrian, beige look just isn’t cutting it anymore,” says Albert Hill, director of the Modern House, an estate agency that specialises in architecturally interesting homes.

“I also think that developers themselves enjoy working with more interesting designers rather than churning out the same old product – they are trying to stand out from the crowd,” suggests Hill.

Nicola Fontanella's Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central
Nicola Fontanella’s Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central

One development that will definitely stand out from its neighbours is Maine Tower, part of the flagship new Galliard Homes’ Harbour Central development of 901 homes, retail, commercial and leisure facilities that is about to launch in Canary Wharf. Stephen Conway, CEO of Galliard, which is London’s second largest residential developer, has called upon Madonna’s interiors style maven Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design to create an opulent Art Deco look that will bring the Manhattan glamour of the Great Gatsby era to Docklands. It’s a collaboration that came about by chance, when the two met on holiday and got chatting– but the results are far from your ordinary new-build specification flat.

Nicola Fontanella's Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central
Nicola Fontanella’s Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central

Planned as a ‘vertical village’ the 41-storey tower will have pockets of social space woven into the different levels, from a gym and spa, to a private cinema, cocktail bar and club lounge, and a library. All will have the trademark Fontanella stamp on them – expanses of glass, bronze-effect panels and polished plaster and stone walls, softened by deep sculptural sofas and glamorous soft furnishings.

The apartments add a touch of Miami Glamour, with blues, turquoise and splashes of gold and bronze, while the rich stone kitchen worktop and warm wooden floors make a contemporary update to the gloss kitchen and stripped floors of most new-builds. Studios will start from £350,000 and Harbour Central launches this Thursday [25 JUNE], www.galliardhomes.com.

Nicola Fontanella's Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central - a studio apartment
Nicola Fontanella’s Art Deco-inspired designs for Maine Tower at Harbour Central – a studio apartment

It’s a move that will surely have cost the Conway far more time, effort and expense, but one that he hopes will pay off. As Hill explains, “Developers are trying to move the public perception of developments from just being purely money-making vehicles to something with a little more vitality and integrity. And buyers are ready for that.”

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Over the water at Greenwich Peninsula, the former creative director of Habitat, product designer and head of his own Design Research Studio, Tom Dixon is responsible for the interiors of the Loft Collection, a limited edition release of 35 apartments at Upper Riverside (lofts from £720,000, www.themodernhouse.net). Featuring his signature use copper and with a strong industrial edge and a nod and a wink to British design heritage (think green enamel metro-style tiles reminiscent of a Victorian pub or tube station), the playful, bold scheme has had hipsters flocking to the area to get a slice of his residential style.

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Expect bright jewel–hued sofas, emerald green kitchen splash-backs, metallic tables and surfaces, industrial steel beams in the bathroom and incredible iridescent glass shower screens that refract the light like a rainbow. “The colours work to connect you either to the ground or the sky,” says Dixon. “They are strong and bright – they seem very modern and fresh but in fact they inspired by old painting of the area, the sunsets and the surrounding nature.”

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Even if you don’t manage to bag one of the remaining lofts, Dixon will have a hand in designing the public areas covering everything from street lamps to gardens, pavilions and he has already created the interiors for Craft, a sleek restaurant and bar on the peninsula. It’s all part of a wider “place-making” scheme, designed to attract a creative crowd of artists, theatre companies and designer-makers. Having a big-draw name on the design team, not only sets the style, it sets the tone that the master developer, Knight Dragon, is trying to achieve.

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“Tom Dixon is such a rare talent and such a bold designer that we knew he would create an alternative to the usual bland vanilla apartments so often found in new developments,” says Kerri Sibson, sales and marketing director for Knight Dragon. “We are creating a vibrant new destination with stunning modern architecture, and amenities including a skyline pool, so with Tom’s interiors we knew we would attract the sort of design-savvy crowd who would enjoy this. We intend to work with other such world-renowned designers in the future to continue to offer something different and exceptional.”

The Heals interiors at The Corner House
The Heals interiors at The Corner House

In Fitzrovia, developer Derwent London has collaborated with designer furniture store Heal’s on the homeware brand’s first residential development in its 200-year history, which will breathe new life into a converted office building – the vast amounts of glazing and industrial hangover from the property’s former life will lend themselves perfectly to the understated, pared back aesthetic of the Heal’s style.

“Curating the look and feel of the apartments of The Corner House has been a great experience,” explains Heal’s creative director Carmel Allen. “Both Derwent and Heal’s believe in creating personal spaces rather than over-stylised designs so each room has a very liveable feel. Sometimes show flats are just that, all ‘show’, but we believe that giving a space a relaxed, modern feel is the right direction.”

The Heals interiors at The Corner House
The Heals interiors at The Corner House

What’s more, residents will be able to use a Heal’s stylist to help design their own bespoke interior to complement their apartment, and as part of the collaboration, they will be entitled to a home consultation from a stylist and a 10 per cent discount on and purchases, as well as invites to design events, previews and workshops at the store, which is handily, just across the street on Tottenham Court Road.

The first six apartments have just been pre-released ahead of the remaining five, but et in quick as a new home on Charlotte Street won’t hang around long. Two-bedroom apartments from £1.75 million, www.cornerhousew1.com.

ALISON TYLER

 

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