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Find out what inspired the man behind The Beeches - a beautiful family home in the Chew Valley's East Harptree
What made you choose this area?
Firstly, the site is situated right on the edge of the Chew Valley which is a sweet spot for travelling to Bath and Bristol and Wells is only 10 mins away. Not to mention and all of the great Somerset schools south of the Mendips like Wells Cathedral School and Millfield. The views from The Beeches are amazing and are far reaching across to the Brecon Beacons.
Was this your first construction project ?
No, I’ve been involved in building from the age of 11 when my parents moved out to the Chew Valley and I have to admit I did quite a bit of knocking-off school because I was working on their new house which was being built!! I have built half a dozen places over the years each and every one of them has been a stepping stone to get to this level.
What materials did you use in the construction of The Beeches?
We changed the planning of the site and built with traditional materials: oak, stone, glass and slate. From the exterior it looks like a traditional build would, but when you walk inside you can see it has a very contemporary and modern feel to it.
What's special about this house?
This project incorporates all the modern benefits of a high spec new house, including smart lighting systems which you can control remotely and a heat recovery system that filters the air throughout the house continuously. Another essential benefit is the high speed fibre broadband which has been bought into the house giving you a virtually unlimited broadband speed.
How many bedrooms are there ?
Five - each has its own en-suite wet room.
Who designed the kitchen ?
A local, Frome-based company called Papilio. The kitchen has every conceivable option including 4 oven Aga and a full Gagganou suite of appliances.
Are there any fitness facilities ?
There is a separate air-conditioned office space along with gym and steam room.
Did you consider security features ?
We have incorporated a high spec camera system, alarm system and video entry from the front gate and front door that can all be remotely controlled, viewed and operated.
Yes - there's a bio-mass boiler which is fully automated and monitored by the manufacturer online. The property has a CO2 footprint which is rated at A and has a score of 97 - the higher the rating the less impact on the environment.
Finally, how do you feel about the house now it's complete?
From the bronze front doors and the dry stone walls (which we carried through from the entrance wall and incorporated internally in the house), it's been a pleasure to put this home together. And while The Beeches is a substantial size, it feels homely for a small family but has the capability of handling large parties as well.
For more information click here or call our Wells branch on 01749 605088 to book a viewing
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Property developers are the mysterious figures behind many new homes in the UK. So we thought we'd lift the veil on Acorn Property Group, who've created Cubis Bruton, by asking them to explain their ethos to you
Please tell us who you are and where you are based
We're an independent development and regeneration specialist with nearly 25 years experience in the property industry. We have successfully created a range of bespoke residential-led refurbishment and new build schemes in some of the most exciting locations within the UK. Cubis Bruton is a project managed by our Bristol team. Our head office is based in London and we have further regional offices in Cardiff, Exeter and Newquay.
The Cubis Bruton development by Acorn Property Group
How would you describe your mission statement and design ethos?
Our “Different by Design” ethos means we strive to ensure that all our developments provide interesting, complementary and sustainable architecture that revitalise and reinvigorate the areas around them, while meeting the needs of the local community.
Tell us what inspires your work.
The local community definitely plays a key part in the inspiration behind our work, as well as an appreciation of the local heritage and surrounding environment. Making headlines as ‘the most fashionable place to live in the UK' by The Times, we were really excited to work with Bruton which is becoming increasingly known for its creative arts scene and contemporary culture. Contributing to the community is very important to us and is an imperative factor when considering a new project. We want to give back to those we work with; therefore we actively encourage our team members to get involved in fundraising. In 2018 alone we raised a fantastic £11,700 in charitable endeavours across the UK and overseas.
The Show Home at Cubis Bruton is open Thursday-Monday, 10am-5pm. Please call 07712 526442 to book a viewing.
How do you select your new sites and projects?
We select sites based on strong local demand, sound regional business and population growth. Always in highly regarded and sought after locations, we bring the very best in tasteful living and modern design whatever the size or value of the development. Land supply is mainly from brownfield sites with 85% of Acorn developments built on these.
How important are ecological concerns to your work?
They are an extremely important part of our work. Regardless of the size or scope of project, the environments in which we work are always carefully considered.
Over the years, we have built up significant experience in developing and designing sustainably. For example, we provide extensive planting, landscaping and green roofs to enhance the amenity and setting of our projects. Our teams also look at a sustainable water attenuation strategy, possible ecological enhancement, tree planting and structural landscaping for each development.
What makes your work stand out from the crowd?
Our innovative, bespoke designs. For Cubis Bruton we were particularly excited to bring highly-regarded local architect Mark Merer’s designs to life. Mark’s passion for sculpture and his ability to unite objects within their natural environments meant Cubis Bruton was the ideal project for him.
How did the company start, when and why?
The business was established in 1995 by a group of passionate people who wanted to create beautiful, bespoke properties that stand out for their uniqueness. Since then we have grown into a team of over 120 people who are truly talented and passionate about what they do. This shows in the awards we have won: this year we were extremely honoured to win the ‘Developer of the Year’ title at the Bristol Property Awards and ‘Best Residential Development’ for Brandon Yard, our Bristol Harbourside development. In addition to these we were proud winners of the 2018 Bristol Life Awards property category. It’s been great to receive so much recognition for our developments in Bristol and across our other regions.
The award-winning Brandon Yard development by Acorn Property Group
Describe some of your “best” “favourite” “most successful” projects and why
Our Bristol development, Brandon Yard, has arguably been one of our most successful projects. With the refurbishment and conversion of two Grade II listed gasworks buildings, this scheme provides a wealth of history and its unbeatable harbourside location makes it a truly special project. Hope House, our prestigious development in central Bath has also been a favourite of ours. Set within six acres of parkland and featuring the conversion of a majestic Grade II listed building, this one of a kind scheme provides a new scale of sophisticated luxury homes and we hope Cubis Bruton will follow in the footsteps of these amazing projects.
We all learn from experience - what would you say your company has learnt from experience and please give details.
Innovation is key to our success which has taught us to continue pushing our creative boundaries and championing our “Different by Design” ethos, the foundation to all our work. As one of our most highly anticipated schemes, Cubis Bruton is a great example of this and we’re proud to be delivering such a unique project with a key focus on energy efficiency and sustainable living.
Cubis Bruton at night
Please describe some outstanding suppliers you have worked with and why
With a wealth of experience and unique approach to materials, Emily Bizley was the ideal interior design partner for Cubis Bruton. Fusing modern design with charming character, Emily’s use of natural materials and hand-crafted objects was perfect for the Show Home at Cubis Bruton. We were also very excited to work with local garden designer, Judy Cole, who helped transform the site through beautiful landscaping in keeping with the natural surroundings of Bruton.
What do you think are the top elements of successful British house development and why?
As a specialist in the creation of bespoke homes, the needs of the local communities in which we build have always been at the forefront of our projects. Backed by the Government’s 2018 ‘25 Year Environment Plan’ which proposes a set of house building principles around green communities, community creation has become an imperative element within successful housebuilding.
Equally as important though is the housebuilders’ ability to create sociable homes that accommodate the needs of modern life, for example, the space to work from home. To enable this, developers must continue to push creative boundaries through innovative schemes that centre sustainability and energy efficiency but does not compromise beautiful design.
Acorn combine sustainability with contemporary design
What can buyers expect from living in one your developments?
Our buyers can expect high quality, bespoke designs that work in harmony with the environments and local communities which surround them.
Set in a natural amphitheatre, buyers of Cubis Bruton can expect energy efficient and highly sustainable designs both internally and externally. Some of the features include flexible open plan living, contemporary fitted kitchens, underfloor heating, a minimum of 2 parking spaces per home and contemporary landscaping to name just a few.
Cubis Bruton suits all kinds of lifestyles, from family life to downsizing
What innovations do you expect to see in British house building and design in the next 20 years?
We expect to see a significant shift in the way sustainability is adopted in the design process, supported by the Housing Secretary’s recently released ‘green standard’ policy – a new green standard for new build homes.
We anticipate a strong focus on sustainable building methods across the industry with particular emphasis on SMART home automation technology. The importance of sustainability will inevitably play a large part in this, with the housebuilders role to ensure impact on the environment is kept minimised throughout the entire process.
With this in mind, we expect to see designs centred on health and wellness with housebuilders acting as advocates for healthy, sustainable homes that put residents’ health and wellbeing at the heart of the building.
Why have you chosen to work with Lodestone?
Working with us on Cubis Bruton, Lodestone makes for a great partner with their extensive knowledge of the Somerset region combined with their expertise, enthusiasm and dedication to the project.
For more information about Cubis Bruton click here or ring the Show Home on 07712 526442 to make an appointment to view. The Show Home is open Thursdays-Mondays, 10am-5pm
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Breakfast on the Aga, sunlight streaming through the windows and deer on the hill; find out why the owners of this Somerset farmhouse think this is the perfect rural retreat
Nightingale Farmhouse at Bere Aller.
Can you remember how you felt when you bought the house?
From the moment we moved in three years ago, it's felt like a safe haven. It is a new house in an old shell and I was thrilled with the fact that the house has character and yet everything works properly. It is light and optimistic, it is warm in winter and cool in summer. There is plenty of wardrobe and storage space and a huge attic. I love having a double garage so you can park your car inside in the winter and not have to de-ice it in the morning. The thick walls between each cottage and the well divided gardens make it feel like a detached house.
This property is called The Farmhouse and is in the middle section
So idyllic. What else do you love about living here?
I love; breakfast in the kitchen cooked on my brand new electric aga, with the sun streaming in the window and seeing deer grazing benignly on the hill, lighting the super efficient Danish woodburner in the sitting room on a cold winter's night when the owls are hooting outside and then snuggling up in front of a good movie, seeing the dazzling white cherry blossom in spring from the sitting room and my vast, dual-aspect, double-height bedroom with views onto the hill where you can see the moon rise at night. My daughter loves seeing the sunset from her bedroom window and the modern walk-in shower in the bathroom. We've enjoyed walks across the wide open fields with our dog and cycle rides along the droves flanked by rivers where swans keep a watchful eye on you
The cosy, hospitable kitchen with Aga at The Farmhouse
It sounds so restful!
It is peaceful. The silence is only interrupted by the cry of buzzards at the top of Bere Woods, the hoot of owls and the occasional plaintif call of a peacock from the cider farm next door. I often hear cuckoos in spring.
What about the garden?
It's south-facing and has been very thoughtfully planted with lots of scented flowers: roses, honeysuckle, lavender and sculptural plants. It has an apple and pear tree and even an apricot tree which made gorgeous jam this year! The garden is very well positioned for the sun which it gets all day at the front on the terrace and in the evening at the back of the house – perfect for a sundowner after work.
The location is really peaceful and you can often see deer on the hill
Any local tips?
As I mentioned, there is a proper old cider farm next door with farmshop with lovely friendly owners. Langport is a thriving town on the river Parett with a great artisan baker and café by the River Wharf which hosts wine tastings for the local vineyard. Langport is one of those places that reveals itself slowly to you and takes time to get to know. It has a warm and active community of artists, crafts and independent business people. Everything you need is here, school, supermarket, doctor, dentist, cafes, shops and it’s only 10 minutes drive away.
You must have some fond memories of living here...
So many - like the time my daughter and I saw something glowing on the terrace and on closer inspection we found that they were glow worms (which are extremely rare!). I also had a great flamenco birthday party here with 16 people seated around the kitchen table enjoying tapas and cava! I'll really miss living here - the peace and quiet and the fact it is such a pretty house and so easy to live in.
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Are women's brains really any different from men's? Lodestone Property sponsor a talk at Wells Festival of Literature by an author & researcher who suggests not
You be aware that our award-winning estate agency, Lodestone Property, was started by two women - Sue Macey and Cathy Morris-Adams, who have had great success thanks to their devotion to excellent customer service, innovative marketing, determined sales strategy and excellent staff. They've also triumphed in a world dominated by men at the management level. But do they think any differently because they are women? Author and international researcher in the field of cognitive neuroscience, Gina Rippon, suggests probably not.
Lodestone Property's Managing Partners, Sue Macey (left) and Cathy Morris-Adams (right)
Rippon, who is based at the Aston Brain Centre at Aston University is speaking about her latest book ‘The Gendered Brain’ at Wells Festival of Literature on 23rd October. In this latest work she quotes a wide range of research about; the origin of the conviction that the ‘female brain’ is different and inferior, why this misperception persists in the 21st Century and how the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience can, and should, dispel such fallacies for ever. She offers thought-provoking perspectives on the debates about sex, gender and the brain and, in doing so, she debunks a whole host of sexist stereotypes and behaviours.
Gina Rippon, who is speaking at Wells Festival of Literature on October 23rd 2019
Some of the questions she examines are:
Are boys and girls treated differently from birth and even conception?
Are men and women’s brains not so different after all?
Are we manipulated and influenced by outside forces, in gender particularly?
Are gender stereotypes embedded in our brains from an early age?
And why do gender gaps still exist in science and technology?
As Macey and Morris-Adams are long-time supporters of Wells Festival of Literature, they've chosen to sponsor Rippon's talk this year. Cathy was particularly drawn to this subject as she has a degree in Physics and was one of just 10 women in a year of about 100 students. She worked at Hinkley Point as a physicist for two years where there were thousands of people on site. She was one of only four female engineers - the few remaining women on site were in the typing pool or canteen.
Do join us for this illuminating and ground-breaking discussion- as Rachel Cooke wrote in The Guardian: A neuroscientist’s brilliant debunking of the notion of a ‘female brain’ could do more for gender equality than any number of feminist manifestos.'
UPDATE FROM THE EVENT: LODESTONE MANAGING PARTNERS MEET PROFESSOR GINA RIPPON
Managing partners Sue Macey (L) and Cathy Morris-Adams (R) meet Professor Gina Rippon 2019
Managing Partners Sue Macey (left) and Cathy Morris-Adams with author Oliver Bullough (centre) in 2018
Broadcaster and journalist Fergal Keane (Centre) with Lodestone Property Managing Partners Cathy Morris-Adams (left) and Sue Macey (right) in 2017
HOW TO GET TICKETS
Tickets for this year's sponsored talk by Lodestone Property are available online here at www.wellsfestivalofliterature.org.uk or from the Box Office in person at Cedars House or via 01749 834483.
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A peaceful setting in a supportive community: the owners of this heritage home explain what they've enjoyed about living there
The Old Vicarage at Weare - a peaceful oasis of calm
Describe how you felt when you first saw the house
Moving here from an old mill in the wilds of North Cornwall we were desperate to hold on to the seclusion and character that only a delightful old building can deliver. We couldn’t believe our luck when we first had sight of this wonderful Old Vicarage - hidden as it is behind its cloak of green seclusion. It’s truly the most peaceful spot. We set about bringing the interior into the 21st century, letting in the light and views while enhancing all its period detail and character.
The current owners renovated the property to let in light while remaining sympathetic to its heritage
What are some of your favourite aspects of the property?
It’s a most comfortable and spacious place to live, and around it we’ve expressed and enjoyed our love of flowers, countryside and relaxation - it really is a garden where you can entertain in so many different special and secluded spots. And of course we’ve had some wonderful big meals with friends and family in the old barn.
The Old Vicarage at Weare is surrounded by beautiful gardens and countryside
What about the location? Any surprises?
Yes - it’s in the middle of a wonderfully vibrant community, with the most friendly neighbours, and perfectly situated for our children and their young families to stay, explore and even get lost in the surrounding gardens.
What will you miss most about living here?
It takes a while to appreciate living in a historic building, you often find that visitors and their families have their own fascinating tales to tell of its former life. It’s wonderful when your own home becomes a privilege too. We’re sad to move on, but the next challenge awaits..
For more information and pictures please click here. As a Wells estate agent we have a wide range of properties and local knowledge and are happy to answer any questions about moving to Somerset - contact us on 01749 605088