Press & Testimonials

frontview The Rise of the New Build

22nd August 2014


Amanda Nicholls takes a look at the wave of superb new homes appearing in the city.

She discovers how local designers and developers have really upped their game. While Bath’s historic houses will never lose their charm – certainly not for us at least – it’s true that more and more of us are choosing to buy new. Here we speak to some of those responsible for the modern developments in the locale, to find out more about the rise of the new build...


George Cardale, head of residential development sales for Savills, has been selling properties for 23 years, and selling new builds in Bath for the last 15 of those. He has seen a strong increase in demand – especially over the past three years and specifically in Bath. “Visitors to Bath are often attracted by its World Heritage status, but those actually living in the city are increasingly choosing to buy new build properties,” he said. “Even before the last remnants of construction debris were being swept away at our Ralph Allen Yard and Rockery Park developments, our sales team was having to tell disappointed would-be purchasers that
ukall the properties had been sold. It seems that while many people in the Bath area enjoy being surrounded by traditional architecture, they are also keen to live in a modern property that they can buy chain-free, with low maintenance costs and a 10-year warranty.”


In response to this demand, Savills is marketing high-spec homes in characterful country settings, such as Fortescue Fields in Norton St Philip for Bloor Homes (where houses start from £585,000); Mendip Gate at Kilmersdon near Radstock for Linden Homes (houses from £323,000); The Park at Sutton Benger for Redrow Homes (houses from £491,995) and the last five penthouses in the current phase at Bath Riverside for Crest Nicholson (from £445,000), as well as gorgeous conversion apartments at Somerset Place (from £1.95million).

And it seems that new builds have reached a whole new level of quality too, with the design, development and construction industries really upping their game in recent years. Associate
architect Daniel Lugsden of the Nash Partnership, which designs housing on a wide range of scales, was able to explain more. “New houses are becoming design as well as technically led,” he said. “With a competitive market place for house builders, they too are ensuring they look at that level of detail. There is a feeling of a growing responsibility among them to ensure they are not just churning out boxes, but considering the living experience and producing well thought-out homes that work as a place to dwell.


“Lifestyle is the buzzword applying itself more and more to all development; to a new office where there is a decision to include a gym; or a house where you have enough garden space to grow some veg, a sunny spot to read a book, or a space to put your bike without tripping over it in the hallway. Pre-empting how a new purchaser might use a house is not easy, but there has been a shift and house builders are looking at lifestyles and listening a bit more than they perhaps did a decade ago or so.”


While the Nash Partnership’s architectural studio looks after one-off projects, the urban design team has the responsibility of designing houses on a larger scale. Ultimately, however, there is no difference, according to Daniel. “What we are trying to do is meet the needs of the end user, right down to the very last detail,” he explained, “whether we are predicting that on larger scales, or working directly with a home owner.” Excellent examples of this have been Equus House, a recent nine-home development on the Old Telephone Exchange site in Lansdown, and Marshfield – a single, bespoke new build just north of Bath.


Stuart Morgan, design and planning director at Ashford Homes, agrees that the major selling point of modern homes is the peace of mind they offer, with “warranties, high insulation values reducing running costs, and absolutely no need to raise a paintbrush for a good few years”. Ashford’s ongoing developments in Bath and Bradford on Avon currently include seven town houses (from £595,000) at Monmouth Place, a single property on Englishcombe Lane (£1,650,000), eight town houses (from £475,000) and apartments (from £230,000) at The Old Coal Wharf, and five town houses (from £565,000) at Barton Close – the latter of which are in their early phases of construction. Properties on The Avenue and James Street West in Bath are also in planning.


“There are still opportunities to buy properties at Monmouth Place, The Old Coal Wharf and Barton Close,” said Stuart, “all of which feature our usual specification of underfloor heating, audio-visual installation and luxurious bathrooms and kitchens. Like our completed Sydney Lawn and Holburne Place developments – the latter of which
won the local and regional 2014 LABC design and quality award – they combine design that’s sympathetic to their surroundings with modern standards.”


Contrary to what you might think, it’s not just young families and high-flying professionals snapping up the sparkly new properties either, with developments like Brunel Crescent in Box, offering two-bedroom apartments from £375,000 and three-bedroom penthouses from £795,000 and ticking all the right boxes for the mature buyer. “It was important for us to ensure the design would improve the lifestyle of our over-55s,” said Charlie Tull, director of developer Blueview Properties which prides itself on the regeneration of brownfield land. “We have included lifts to all floors, plus underground car parking – it’s a completely secure site with a coded entry system and CCTV.”


Running costs at Brunel are lower than at older properties and maintenance charges lower because of the modern design of its mechanical and electrical systems. Stylish, easy access wet rooms have been included, as well as air recycling, which cuts down on the cost of the underfloor heating. “Advantages of a new build include up-to-date designs and finishes, choice of plots, and on the financial front, schemes such as Help to Buy,” said Sara Parker, head of new homes at Carter Jonas, which is marketing Brunel Crescent jointly with Knight Frank. “In a recent survey, Wiltshire came out as the top location for take-up of this scheme. New homes can also be seen as a good investment for buy-to-let and those downsizing.”


Knight Frank’s Francine Watson added: “With a new build, money and time that would otherwise be spent maintaining a property can be spent on more enjoyable pastimes. They are also in such demand that purchasers are prepared to buy off-plan. When we launched Brunswick Gate in Larkhall we had our first buyer waiting on the doorstep the following morning.” Brunswick Gate’s eight honey-hued, Georgian-style town houses, developed by Spitfire, feature individually designed kitchens by Poggenpohl and views over Solsbury Hill – so it’s no surprise that four of them are already under offer. The whole site will be completed in March next year and prices start from £630,000. Knight Frank has also launched Albert Crescent at Bath Riverside with Crest Nicholson, at which there are two properties left, offering beautiful Alno kitchens and Roca bathrooms and starting from £295,000.


If you really can’t relinquish the idea of a home with history, of course there’s Rivers Street Mews within a few minutes’ walk of the Royal Crescent – originally built in around 1789 as stabling and arranged around a cobbled courtyard. Now, after two years of restoration work, the development comprises six charming houses (starting from £600,000) surrounded by olive trees and those original cobbles. Featuring 21st-century touches including Mayflower of Somerset kitchens and gorgeous oak flooring, they’re ideal for those looking for all the convenience of a new build without any of the sacrifice on period charm.


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“Brunel Crescent stood out because of the high quality of the finish everywhere, and we should like to live there because it is a small block of only 15 residences situated in a lovely position in a very pleasant village. So many we have looked at have been in much more urban surroundings and contain too many homes.”
Mr & Mrs Morrell, Cornwall

“My late husband judged What House's "Best Apartment competition" for thirteen years so we visited hundreds of apartments up and down the country.  With this in mind I would say that what attracted me to Brunel Crescent was that it seemed to be well built with top quality finishes but, the best thing was the view, parking facility and storage space.  So many small apartments have little or no cupboards or store rooms, Brunel Crescent has both.”
Mrs Jones, Dorset

“We went around the Crescent apartments yesterday.  We both thought the penthouse was very impressive, spacious and thoughtfully and carefully detailed, all down to you personally we suspect!  The so-called retirement market is lacking this sort of apartment, and is something I have been advocating over many years to developers.  We hope the development proves successful for you, it deserves to.”
Mr Ward, Wiltshire