Best New Homes in Britain. this judges report is sponsored by SEARCH & SELECTION

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1 Best New Homes in Britain 2014 this judges report is sponsored by SEARCH & SELECTION

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3 FOREWORD WHAT HOUSE? AWARDS 2014 THE BEST NEW HOMES IN BRITAIN I hope you enjoyed the show! We refer to the WhatHouse? Awards as the day the new homes flag flies highest. But one day in November in a five-star hotel in London is not enough. The new homes flag needs to fly high and proud 365 days a year. Too often we get caught up in the quest for numbers, the overwhelming need to address the housing supply crisis and constantly bleating about the planning system. All the above is valid, but maybe it is time for a more concerted effort to win hearts and minds. Yes people will also complain about new developments spoiling their views and loading too much weight on local infrastructure. But to be fair a lot of the fear of new homes is not just blind opposition to anything, but a cynicism that what will be built will be ugly, box uniform and without any discernable character or architectural merit, local or otherwise. Well this Judges Report should be circulated to every household and every council in the land. This is what the best housebuilders, large and small, and their supply chains, can deliver. This is what the industry can achieve with passion and professionalism. There were a record number of entries to this year s Awards. On the basis that nobody enters unless they believe they have a chance of winning, then every single entrant has illustrated huge pride in what has been built. The Awards have been going 33 years now and we have played our part in pushing the industry not just to build homes, but to build award-winning homes and raise the bar (not to mention fill it) every year. We need the quantity, but we have the quality too, as these pages show. Shout it from the rooftops. Wave that flag. We would like to thank all the housebuilders, suppliers and other industry colleagues who have once again supported this great event. Special thanks to all the Awards sponsors and the judges and congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who entered and attended today s ceremony. Rupert Bates Editorial Director Globespan Media Globespan Media is the organiser of the WhatHouse? Awards. It runs WhatHouse.com, prints a series of regional and local WhatHouse? newspapers and publishes the leading trade title for the housebuilding industry Show House. Editorial director: Rupert Bates Art editor: Kelly Bates Chief sub-editor: Suzanne Frost Sales director (Show House): Adrian Talbot Sales manager (Show House): Iga Lisowka Globespan Media Ltd 5th Floor, Borough High Street, London SE1 1JG Judges report 01

4 HOUSEBUILDER OF THE YEAR Housebuilder of the Year City & Country Sheer class in a restorative glass. The 2014 Housebuilder of the Year, the most prestigious accolade in the UK new homes industry, goes to City & Country. Housebuilders often use the word sensitive glibly as a marketing term, assuring critics they will tread carefully. City & Country doesn t just have to tread carefully, it has to walk on eggshells and these eggshells can be very rare birds indeed. While clearly commercial sense has to come into any viability study on a potential project, such is the boldness of this company s ambition that you suspect the tougher the challenge, the greater the desire to take it on. Britain s architectural heritage is the envy of the world. We are blessed with some amazing buildings, some of which have been shamefully neglected. City & Country doesn t just nurse historic properties back to life with tender loving care and under the beady eye of the heritage beaks; it injects heavy doses of adrenalin into its patients. Restoration is not just about reframing an old masterpiece or sewing up the holes in the ripped canvas; it is about making the building better in every sense. Heritage developer is the perfect description of this company based in the Essex village of Stansted Mountfitchet. It is acutely aware of the heritage it has acquired, even down to employing architectural historians and archaeologists to trace the roots of the buildings, their 02 Judges report

5 HOUSEBUILDER OF THE YEAR place, context and purpose. The grounds are not forgotten either, making the most of the acres and gardens that traditionally come with such historic estates. But City & Country is also a hardnosed developer. Respect its history, but the property still has to sweat and pay its way. Ancient and modern can collide melodiously rather than jarring, mixing new builds with the revived space, but without tumbling into the pastiche trap. City & Country s return is not just from the satisfaction of breathing new life into treasured assets, but in the growth of the business, which now turns over close to 50m with big leaps in pre-tax profits in recent years. Former lunatic asylums, hospitals and, in the case of Bentley Priory in Stanmore, carving out new homes from the historic mansion house at the old HQ of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, are all in its stunning portfolio. The Group was founded in 1962 by the Sargeant family. CEO Tim Sargeant and managing director Helen Moore ooze enthusiasm and passion for every project, as well as a positive, challenging engagement with the wider issues facing the housebuilding industry and the housing market. City & Country was recently named in the Hot 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies and ranked as one of the Stock Exchange s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. To these accolades it can now add the coveted title of WhatHouse? Housebuilder of the Year, and with some sensational projects in the pipeline there is more history to be made and enhanced. Judges report 03

6 BEST LARGE HOUSEBUILDER Gold Redrow Redrow celebrated its 40th birthday this year and the company, founded as a small civil engineering business by chairman Steve Morgan, goes from strength to strength. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of revenues and profit across nearly 100 outlets, building around 3,000 new homes a year. The Redrow culture starts at the top, but permeates through every employee, with a commitment to excellence across the disciplines. Morgan returned to the business in 2009, since when a 350m pre-tax loss has transformed into four consecutive years of rising profits. Redrow is perhaps best known for its work in the north-west and close to its Flintshire headquarters. But it is quickly burnishing its reputation in the south, with Redrow London alone having quickly amassed a development portfolio with an estimated GDV of 2bn. The southern counties and West Country are also proving strong regionally and the housebuilder now has 11 housing divisions in England and Wales. Redrow does sleek and modern as witnessed at One Commercial Street in East London, as well as its everpopular Heritage Collection. Redrow offers an innovative range of sales incentives and continues to set the benchmark for bold, refreshing marketing both on- and off-line, including the My Redrow digital tool for customers, as well as its TV channel. Redrow also has an industry-leading focus on recruitment and apprenticeships, bringing through the next generation of builders. The best of the big guns in Judges report

7 BEST LARGE HOUSEBUILDER Silver Barratt Whatever the market conditions, nearly 15,000 new homes a year is a staggering number to deliver, but it is Barratt s range that remains so impressive, starting at 100,000 and going up to more than 5m, with 27 housebuilding divisions under the Barratt, David Wilson and Ward brands. The average selling price is just under 214,000. The design range is as broad and appealing as the price range a mix of cutting edge and classical, depending on location and purchaser profile, and Barratt even introduced an in-house design competition called Great Places. Two-thirds of its homes are built on brownfield land and Barratt has calculated that it has underpinned nearly 50,000 jobs direct, indirect and induced through its own business and that of subcontractors and suppliers, working out at 3.5 jobs per house. That figure alone highlights just how important the housebuilding industry is to the national economy. In addition, Barratt has established a Housebuilding Foundation degree course at Sheffield Hallam University and is committed to taking on 1100 apprenticeships and graduates. Barratt is ever alert to affordability issues, offering various mortgage schemes to buyers, while community consultation is another key plank of its customer engagement. Barratt has entered into many innovative partnerships with both the private and public sector across a variety of sustainable, mixed-use schemes. A well-deserved silver in a very competitive category. Bronze The Berkeley Group Another outstanding year from a housebuilder that claims it is now established as a leading British brand. That is certainly the case in London, but Berkeley is recognised for the quality of its placemaking, always underpinned by the most robust sustainability values, wherever it builds. Berkeley s financial performance continues to be premier league, in any business, not just building. Its designs are enlightening, with a commitment to minimum space standards in proactive response to criticism of the size of new homes in the UK compared to the rest of Europe. It also addressed the controversial issue of the dominance of overseas investment in London property by introducing a UK First policy in the marketing of all its developments. Again we see the value of a volume housebuilder to the nation s overall economic health, with Berkeley s contribution to UK GDP in 2014 valued at nearly 1.4bn, supporting around 21,000 jobs. The company will also be building five new schools, creating nearly 2,000 school places. Berkeley has pioneered a mouldbreaking measurement of social sustainability in new developments, quantifying people s quality of life on Berkeley schemes. The company won The Queen s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development, while the Berkeley Foundation, addressing the issues of homelessness and jobs, is now a registered charity. Judges report 05

8 BEST MEDIUM HOUSEBUILDER Gold City & Country You have to have an innate confidence in this industry to brand yourself a heritage developer. To many people such a description is a contradiction in terms. Not in the case of City & Country. Give the company an historic, listed building and it sees opportunity, not only to polish the heritage, but to fuse it with the brand new. It is an irresistible combination that makes this Essex-based housebuilder worthy of gold in a hugely competitive category that attracted a record number of entries. First and foremost, City & Country is a specialist, taking on projects that many would run a mile from. Preserve the past and enhance the future is its mission and the business delivers time after time. Creative conservation is another of the company s mantras. Preservation doesn t have to mean slavish retention of the old unless the heritage police insist, but fresh thinking and brush strokes on historic canvases. The heritage value of a building is a bonus, not a burden. City & Country even employs historians and archaeologists to dig into the site s past and establish its historical significance. The business may love its history, but City & Country is a thoroughly modern, entrepreneurial housebuilder. It has been a record financial year for the company, now in its 52nd year as a family-run business. It was also recently named in the Investec Hot 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies and ranked as one of the Stock Exchange s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. A graduate trainee programme and a raft of staff motivation initiatives reinforce the remarkable teamwork required to deliver such sensitive, complex projects. 06 Judges report

9 BEST MEDIUM HOUSEBUILDER Silver CALA Homes It has been another stellar year for CALA, with only the pedigree performance by City & Country denying it a third successive gold in this category. Bought by Patron and Legal & General, then acquiring Banner Homes, has made for an historic time for the business off the pitch, but crucially it has not taken its eye off the ball on it, continuing to deliver outstanding, design-led projects across the UK. The focus has remained on the customer an obvious priority in any business, but one that can often be overlooked in this industry in the dash for land, turnover and profit. CALA continues to set the highest customer care standards, as well as an incredibly rigorous and successful approach to health and safety. The Banner acquisition will prove a perfect fit in terms of its reputation, build quality and culture, eventually turning CALA into a top 10 housebuilder. The customer testimonials speak volumes and ongoing research ensures continuous purchaser feedback to drive standards ever higher, while sales and marketing is as innovative as it is successful. CALA develops people as well as homes, bringing out the best in its staff, including a Future Presence Experience, designed to develop the leadership skills of high potential employees. All in all, very close to an unprecedented hat-trick. Silver Mar City Homes This is a great story of evolution and revolution. We have heard about modern methods of construction and modular housing for a while now. But Mar City has not only diligently researched the technique and application, it plans to roll it out in big numbers and take the industry with it, if housing supply is ever going to be properly addressed and delivered fast enough to match demand. Modular housing, as practised by Mar City, cuts construction time by a third and reduces on-site materials waste to practically zero. Other benefits include no weather delays, better noise insulation and lower energy costs. The company, founded in 1984 and with offices in London and Birmingham, has spent 10 years on the modular, factory-built concept, which can be seen in the flesh at the award-winning Green Point development in Colindale, northwest London. Mar City looks to areas of high unemployment with a commitment to using and training up apprentices. Precision engineering in the factory is one thing, but Mar City is very design-focused too, ensuring there is nothing bland and uniform about the modular products, adding flair and imagination. It is very brave to talk of a revolution in the conservative world of housebuilding, but we all know it needs one and Mar City looks well placed to be in the vanguard. Judges report 07

10 BEST MEDIUM HOUSEBUILDER Bronze Weston Homes Weston Homes has been a consistently outstanding purveyor of new homes across the board since its founding in Where the business excels is in its commitment to high-quality designs and specifications, regardless of the price. Weston prides itself on its kitchens and bathrooms and its loyalty to key suppliers is rewarded, both with enduring quality and design innovation. Be they homes for first time buyers, family houses, city apartments, or mixed-use developments, the same standards of quality and service remain. Weston can convert and refurbish too, showing its range of skills across all areas of residential development. Project Genesis is an example of Weston s desire to innovate, looking for new ways to improve quality and speed of build, while sourcing sustainably and reducing waste. Chairman and founder Bob Weston talks of people, products and rewards with the emphasis on a team approach. There is a focus on training and opportunities for career development within the business and the payback is great loyalty from staff. Weston Homes is always mindful of community engagement and has strong links with various charities. It is a highly professional, successful, modern housebuilder, combining old-fashioned virtues with the very latest ideas in design, build, technology, sales and marketing. Bronze Mount Anvil Like all of the award winners in this category, Mount Anvil is people focused, for that way outstanding products are delivered. It is no wonder this progressive London developer has appeared in The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For list for the last eight years. There is a great drive and ambition within the company, but with a smile on its face. It continues to make great waves in central London, but always with a commitment to the legacy its work will leave behind, both in architectural and social terms. Mount Anvil does residential towers, as well as more genteel, boutique stuff a mix of the stylish and the affordable and all with a flair for design and commitment to customer service. This year Mount Anvil agreed a 200m partnership with Ares Management that will move the developer into another league, aiming to build around 2,500 homes by 2018, worth more than 1bn. Health and safety is a huge focus and the company even employs a full-time paramedic to drive a proactive health management culture. Staff training and development is paramount too, with the average spend per head on staff development 1,350. Crucially, subcontractors equally feel part of the team. This is a fine people business as well as a fine property one. 08 Judges report

11 BEST SMALL HOUSEBUILDER Gold Stone Homes It has been quite a journey for the husband and wife team behind Stone Homes, Dale and Jo Robinson. It was the conversion of their own traditional Northumberland farmstead into a luxury home that fuelled the desire to turn their obvious eye for detail and design into a business. The result is a series of charming, wellconceived and architecturally pure creations across Northumberland in the north-east of England. These are new country houses of outstanding quality, sympathetic to their environments, but adding style and boldness to the vernacular. Such is the desire for authenticity that Dale Robinson is regularly on the road, sourcing and salvaging architectural artifacts and materials to match the conversion, or blend the new with its neighbours and surroundings. Stone Homes has an outstanding team of craftsmen behind it, across the trade from carpenters to stonemasons, roofers to tilers. Two years ago Stone Homes interiors was launched and is run by Jo Robinson, styling and creating delightful homes, constantly challenging and seeking new inspirations. The company insists on working with the best materials plucked and buffed from the local countryside and wherever it builds statements are made. Stone Homes by name and nature, built with character, charm and an extraordinary attention to detail. This is a housebuilder in love with its job and it shows. A worthy winner and Best Small Housebuilder Silver Antler Homes Antler Homes was very close to retaining its title in this category and the company continues to produce refined excellence and elegance in its Surrey and Berkshire heartlands. The best builders are committed to design and quality, as well as shrewd choice of locations. Antler properties are always good looking, but never resorting to pastiche. The company in its marketing refers to limited edition properties and it shows in the finished products. Antler works with the best suppliers, but assumes nothing, with regular site visits, keeping on top of any snagging issues and working closely and personally with clients. There is always a classical appeal to the homes, but without being afraid of thinking outside the box when it comes to design features, both inside and out. Kitchens are always outstanding in conception, combining cooking, living and entertaining space. New homes technology ensures all the latest in home entertainment can be catered for, while Antler always put an awful lot of thought into its landscaping, with gardens to match the quality of the bricks and mortar. Customer care and after-sales service are also top of the delivery agenda another outstanding year from an outstanding housebuilder. While the focus is on the numbers game in terms of new homes delivery, with political eyes trained on the volume builders, the UK is indeed fortunate in the quality of its little guys too. Judges report 09

12 BEST SMALL HOUSEBUILDER Bronze Octagon Octagon has been one of the best and highest profile operators at the luxury end of the residential game for nearly 35 years and it continues to delight and inform with its opulent products. Classical exteriors and contemporary interiors have proved a winning formula for the Surreybased business. Its homes are mansions with taste; not big and brash simply for the sake of the price tag. When the history of modern country houses is written, there will be a chapter devoted to Octagon and its class and consistency. Many developers have tried their hand at the spectacular at the top of the market, but the sign of a quality outfit is doing it over and over again, without ever compromising on standards. Outside, its gardens do justice to their surroundings outside rooms with superior landscaping and creating a sense of place. Underfloor heating, home cinemas were in Octagon properties long before most and the enduring success and appeal of the company is that it can genuinely call itself a luxury brand and is recognised as such by trade and consumer alike. Octagon was a pioneer of super league mansions but the company continues to seek fresh challenges and hit new heights of new build luxury. Bronze London Square London Square has come an awfully long way in four short years and with the fresh private equity backing of Ares Management is only going to get considerably bigger and stronger. From a start-up to a business with a development pipeline worth more than 1bn, London Square, with the ambition of being a 1,000- home a year housebuilder, won t qualify in this category for much longer. Its London sales work out at an average of more than 1,000 a square foot testimony not just to the frightening values attained in London, but to the quality of the product, finding the right locations and delivering stylish architecture on bespoke schemes. The clue is in the name. London is the territory, and squares, taking inspiration from their Georgian ancestors, are often the refined, elegant shapes of their developments. It is not just highend homes either, with prices starting from 250,000. It might be that the best and most defining scheme is yet to come, as London Square is to restore and convert a London landmark the historic Grade II listed Royal Star & Garter Home in Richmond, with 86 new homes in total. 10 Judges report

13 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR Gold Linden Homes Sustainability is about more than solar panels, airtightness and insulation it is a way of thinking. Linden Homes understands this and, through a systematic approach, is doing everything it can to ensure sustainable thinking permeates every level of its business and every action it takes. Indeed, sustainability is seen as a vital part of the company s strategy for growth and a way of making it a smarter business. Over the past year Linden Homes has recorded significant successes. The company has exceeded targets for carbon and waste reduction, introduced new policies for water saving and biodiversity, and is actively helping its supply chain partners to become more sustainable. Linden Homes builds around 3,000 homes each year. Not all match the sustainability standards of its exemplar schemes, such as Graylingwell Park in Chichester, West Sussex, but the company does demonstrate a clear ability to build low-impact, high-performing homes on all its sites. Measures to shrink its environmental footprint start, for example, with energy-saving systems in the on-site cabins from which projects are run. Health and safety, helping young people into work, a strong commitment to community engagement and a determination to build sustainable communities, all contribute to making Linden Homes a worthy winner of this award. *The judges did not feel that the entries submitted for this category met a sufficiently high standard to receive a silver or bronze award. The judges were disappointed that entrants were unable to demonstrate a clear understanding of company-wide sustainability policies and goals or how they may be implemented. Judges report 11

14 HOUSING ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR Gold Affinity Sutton Affinity Sutton impressed the judges with the consistent high standards it reaches in every aspect of its operation. It is on a mission to build 10,000 new homes over 10 years in London and the south-east (805 were delivered in 2013/14, with construction started on a further 1,150). These properties include a variety of rental tenures and the group has shared ownership partnerships with many leading developers including Berkeley, Barratt, Linden and Redrow. It is also a joint venture partner with Linden and the Homes and Communities Agency at Graylingwell Park in Chichester one of the largest carbon neutral developments in the UK. But it s not just the physical aspect of the homes that impresses. Affinity Sutton aims to help its buyers and residents in a wide variety of ways. It is building on its partnership with Santander to offer 95% LTV mortgages, has set up the first national partnership between a housing association and a credit union and provided financial advice to more than 3,600 residents. Its Ready2Work scheme has secured more than 3,000 training places and helped 881 people into work, forging partnerships with 30 local and national employers to place residents in jobs. And it has made the decision to become digital by default, developing an online portal that allows residents to pay their rent, report repairs and neighbourhood issues, use a benefits budgeting calculator, search and apply for homes and access their residents handbook via PC, mobile or tablet. Affinity Sutton is the model of a modern RSL flexible, financially secure, responsive and responsible. Silver Sovereign Sovereign is the epitome of what a really good housing association should be. It uses its considerable financial strength to build large numbers of new homes, but it never forgets the customer or its social mission. One of the things the judges like about Sovereign is its clear focus on quality and innovation, not just quantity and financial gain. It is a consistent high performer in almost everything it does. Last year, as well as creating over 1,000 new affordable homes, Sovereign maintained resident satisfaction at 90%+ and won awards for its value-for-money approach. It produced striking eco-homes, including some of the first zero carbon homes under the government s carbon challenge, and its 2.6m Warmer Homes programme helped vulnerable tenants improve their living conditions. Nearly 1,000 residents were supported into work or training, including 15 new apprentices, it helped residents claim an additional 1m in benefit entitlements to boost their incomes and combat welfare cuts, and the drive to reduce anti-social behaviour has seen satisfaction with the service rise from 48% to 76%. This is an association that has adapted to the harsher operating environment brilliantly well, without ever losing sight of its social objectives. 12 Judges report

15 HOUSING ASSOCIATION OF THE YEAR Bronze Wulvern Wulvern is one of those housing associations that has taken a long hard look at itself in recent years and successfully transformed its business to fit a radically different and tougher world. It s a mediumsized, Cheshire-based association that prides itself on doing a good job and has the figures to prove it. It cleverly enhances the value of its work by getting involved in partnerships that allow it to achieve more than it could on its own. For example, it has joined with 10 other associations and Manchester City Council to deliver an innovative offsite modular construction model, and is a member of the north-west s major procurement partnership, helping improve the value for money of its contracts. It s also making a name for itself as a specialist extra care provider for frailer older people. It invests in its staff, achieving Investors in People Gold at the first attempt and being named in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-for- Profit Organisations to Work For, and that investment is reflected in the service staff deliver to customers, with nearly 90% of residents saying they would recommend Wulvern to family or friends. Wulvern is smartly run and has staff who really believe in their customers and in great service. It s a worthy award winner. Bronze L & Q Having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, L&Q which says it houses a family in London every 15 minutes owns and manages more than 70,000 homes and employs more than 1,300 people. It delivered an impressive 174m surplus in 2013/14, bringing its surplus over the past five years to nearly 500m. These figures have been aided by the PricedIn shared ownership campaign, which aims to simplify the shared ownership process, and which has been attributed to helping 333 shared ownership buyers on to the housing ladder in Its mission statement to create places where people want to live is backed up by its development activity. L&Q completed 916 homes in the 2013/14 financial year, starting a further 1,691, with 1,722 expected completions in 2014/15. A notable feature of L&Q s activities is the L&Q Foundation, which from 2014 will invest 7m per year in the communities where it is working. The foundation s remit covers community initiatives, boosting residents employment prospects, aiding financial inclusion of tenants, and creating positive futures for young people. Within the organisation, staff are encouraged to prosper in a culture of shared leadership and collaborative learning. The group has achieved Investors in People status for 12 consecutive years and was in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to work for index for eight consecutive years. L&Q s growth is not being achieved at the expense of its wider responsibilities long may it continue. Judges report 13

16 BEST STARTER HOME SCHEME Gold Crest Nicholson Park Central, Birmingham The largest regeneration project outside of London, Park Central has delivered nearly 1,300 homes over the last decade. Located just one mile from Birmingham city centre, this huge development flanks eight acres of public parkland, with a health centre and several play areas among the community facilities and a brand new school set to follow. The iconic Central Plaza towers are the focal point of the development, and the vast majority of the recently launched 132 oneand two-bedroom apartments in this part of Park Central have already been reserved, with prices ranging from 129,000 up to around 250,000 for a two-bedroom penthouse apartment. One of the most impressive aspects of Park Central is the quality of the properties on offer. Each home features an open-plan living and dining area with access to a private balcony, sleek and stylish kitchens, various environmentally friendly features and a high level of security throughout. Around 54% of recent purchasers here have been first-time buyers. The Help to Buy and NewBuy schemes have both been very successful at Central Plaza, and with work having recently started on the penultimate phase of the development, Park Central will continue to provide quality starter homes and excellent community facilities for years to come. Gold Berkeley Homes Victory Pier, Gillingham, Kent Berkeley has done it again with Victory Pier, transforming a redundant former chemical works site into a desirable and affordable new residential quarter. The scheme will eventually provide nearly 800 riverside apartments in addition to student accommodation, retail and commercial space, a hotel and an extra care facility. Victory Pier has proved extremely popular with local buyers, with many of them coming from within just a few miles. Thanks to mainline and High Speed rail services, it s also a great place for Londoners priced out of the capital to be able to get on the property ladder. With prices starting at 117,000 for a studio, and three-bedroom apartments from 279,000, it provides value for money against any comparable town outside London. A great deal of thought has gone into the design of the blocks, with many features reflecting the maritime heritage of the Medway area. Large public spaces, including a waterfront promenade and landscaped green areas, eliminate any risk of feeling lost within this scale of development. Berkley has maintained its reputation for distinctive, quality interiors here and features such as video entry and a WiFi lounge for guests and visitors show there s been no skimping, despite the low price of many of the properties here. 14 Judges report

17 BEST STARTER HOME SCHEME Silver Lovell Bryn Celyn, Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales The semi-rural village of Llanharry, near Pontyclun, is a long way from its peers in this list geographically, but Bryn Celyn is a great example of what Lovell has consistently done well for many years providing high-quality homes for local communities at a competitive price. It was completely sold out prior to the judges visit. Comprising 88 two-, threeand four-bedroom homes, the development has a great location on the edge of the village, with some far-reaching views at the top of the site. As well as Help to Buy, Lovell offered its own deposit paid and shared equity schemes. The developer also worked with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council to offer affordable two- and three-bedroom properties through the Homestep low-cost homeownership initiative. Over half the properties on the development went to first-time buyers, many local people priced out of nearby sought-after villages in the Vale of Glamorgan. The layout of the site and mix of properties and external finishes makes for varied and appealing street scenes that would be admired on many more expensive schemes. The mix of singles, couples and young families, together with the older residents here, has already created a friendly and neighbourly community. A landscaped play area and wild-flower grassland have added new features that the whole village can enjoy. Bronze Network Living Langhorne Place, Dollis Hill, London, NW2 The mix of no fewer than five tenures offered at Langhorne Place affordable rented, target rented, shared ownership, shared equity and outright sale opened up the rare opportunity to enjoy a new build home in this London suburb to a wide range of house-hunters. Judges report 15

18 BEST STARTER HOME SCHEME Some were funded by the mayor of London s Housing Covenant this development being one of the first to offer properties through this scheme. Under shared ownership, a 35% share in a two-bedroom home was available with a household income of under 39,000 and a deposit of under 4,800. The provision of a full range of appliances minimises the extras that first-time buyers might have to finance compared with other schemes. Contemporary architecture incorporates a range of interesting, complementary materials, with large windows and generous private outdoor space. There are only minimal differences in the specifications of the outright sale and shared equity properties compared to the other tenures and everyone gets an allocated parking space. Two green spaces with sensory sculptural play equipment, a refurbished pond and large, communal roof terrace from which panoramic views over London can be enjoyed add the icing on the cake of this laudable development. Bronze L&Q Capworth Court, Leyton, London, E10 First-time buyers in London aren t exactly spoiled for choice, so it is no wonder that Capworth Court was so popular upon its launch in October Situated in the vibrant east London area of Leyton, this stylish development of 83 one-, two- and three-bedroom properties attracted huge interest from buyers, in part due to the variety of tenures on offer. With prices starting at around 185,000 and with L&Q s trademark shared ownership scheme available, the development represented a great opportunity for local residents to take their first steps on to the property ladder. L&Q should be applauded for the quality of the design and build at Capworth Court, with impressive fixtures and fittings across the range of apartments and many homes boasting their own private balconies. Finally, the development offers excellent accessibility. From the nearby Leyton Midland Road overground station, Stratford International can be reached in less than 15 minutes, and Liverpool Street in a little over 20. The unobstructed views across London also offer the feeling of being a part of the city, rather than living on its outskirts. As east London continues its regeneration, the success of Capworth Court provides an excellent blueprint for meeting the housing needs of the city s residents. 16 Judges report

19 Gold London Square The Pembridge, London Square Fulham, London, SW6 London Square, and architects Assael Architecture, has successfully held off the competition this year with its Pembridge townhouse, part of a wonderfully well-designed residential development, set around a traditional traffic-free garden square close to Fulham Broadway in leafy west London. The Pembridge is a large four-bedroom family home built as part of a mixed terrace. The exterior elevations are modern yet traditional; their distinctive detailing is inspired by the symmetry of the Georgian townhouse. The house features five floors of very versatile family accommodation including a garage and underground parking for two cars, and a wonderful open-plan kitchen/dining/family area on the lower ground floor with outside terrace An impressively large front door opens into a huge, light entrance hall and past a study, cloakroom and glamorous staircase, into a lovely light reception room leading out onto another external terrace area with a garden level beyond. The first floor is occupied by a very generous master suite; bedrooms three and four are on the second floor together with a family bathroom; and the top floor is occupied by the large second bedroom with generous en suite bathroom with a sunny roof terrace overlooking the square below. The specification is excellent, with comfort cooling to all the living areas and bedrooms and underfloor heating throughout. All the lighting and audio is controlled via Crestron. The development is rated as Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and the house is fuelled via a communal CHP boiler. The kitchen and bathrooms are all very well designed with luxury specifications. The judges particularly liked the external terrace/garden areas with BEST HOUSE their attractive landscaping and the central staircase with its cleverly angled hardwood treads, wood and glass balustrade and large roof light above. The huge front door, high ceilings, exceptional lighting, and creamy stone floors were also important features; in fact all the spaces were noticeably well designed with good attention to detail, even down to the doorknobs. Judges report 17

20 BEST HOUSE Silver Latis Homes Greenfield Place, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 This is a small, private development of terraced and linked three- and four-bedroom houses set in an attractive, secure cul-de-sac. A very successful reinvention of a standard terraced house, this new home has lots of style and panache as well as a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 rating; it is no surprise that the developers are also architects. The quality of the detailing and the implementation of a scheme using high-quality products carefully put together are very apparent. Many of the internal features, including the impressively tall floorto-ceiling doors, emphasise the feeling of spaciousness, and the generous hallway with its very imposing front door reinforces the attention to detail, giving the overriding impression of a special, non-standard product. Some subtle improvements could be made to the specification, particularly to the sanitaryware, which would ensure that all parts of this excellent house are matched. Silver Hill Octavo Mews, West Kensington, London, W6 This is a gated mews development of eight contemporary threebedroom townhouses arranged over four floors built on the site of an old car mechanics workshop at the end of a quiet residential street in west London. The original scheme was designed by Assael Architecture and well implemented by John Rowe-Parr Architects. Despite the rather dulled-down front elevations, these Tardislike terrace houses have been carefully planned to provide very wellproportioned, beautifully light living spaces that flow seamlessly into one another. Upon arrival, electrically operated bollards recede into the ground and each resident has their own off-street parking space within the attractively landscaped courtyard. The big house numbers on the front elevations are a clever touch. The entrance hall feels light and spacious, with a great study space adjacent to the front door; the hall opens into a wonderful, light, open-plan reception room and out onto the linked external decked terraces. Contemporary open-tread oak stars with simple glass balustrades lead down to a great kitchen/family room, which opens out, through folding glass doors, onto the lower deck/barbecue area. The white high gloss kitchen is surprisingly large and very well specified. The master suite is on the first floor together with a third bedroom, and there is a second bedroom on the top floor; all have comfortable en suites. There is also even a mini green roof/terrace accessible from the top bedroom. Outside, the landscaping is very good but it is a shame that the existing perimeter walls to the site were not re-rendered before they were painted; the uneven plaster work looks more shabby than chic and does let the scheme down a bit. 18 Judges report

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