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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
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Somerset is much more than cider country: It's also a thriving hub for independent, creative businesses. So welcome to the first in a new series where we talk to interesting folk about the companies they run - starting with Lizbeth Holstein from HoneyTree Publishing.
Artist and illustrator Lizbeth Holstein is the Creative Director/Co-Founder and Queen Bee of this personalised stationery business which is based in Frome, Somerset. It’s a family business that, since starting in October 2009, has created cards that have been sent to the Obamas at the White House and The Queen! And earlier this year the family sold their Worminster home through us. We asked her all about living and working in Somerset - and with her husband Sebastian - and how she found selling her house with us.
Lizbeth Holstein is the Creative Director of family business, HoneyTree Publishing
Describe your business for us..
We produce illustrated & classic personalised stationery and I am the creative director, yet Karen and Lucy are very involved in new trends and outreach. We employ five people who plus Sebastian and I – some walk, some cycle some drive, but they are all local and love it. We also have nine British artists who feature at HoneyTree who are paid a royalty for every sale of their work.
Our passion is in enabling people to be creative with their correspondence and we have a choice of over 800 illustrations available across all our products and give people the freedom to personalise their paper products. And because quality never goes out of fashion, we are committed to using only use the finest grade card and papers for our invitations, correspondence Cards and writing paper. Made with love in our Somerset studios, our stationery is backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee.
HoneyTree is a great employer of locally-based people
Paper products seek increasingly popular in a digital age, why is that?
Let’s face it, Sebastian and I love to host dinner parties, but a text from the back of a taxi on the way home at 2am from guests saying thank you seems rather trite. A letter or a card a couple of days later is always appreciated, gets you asked back! And is thoughtful; we see the wonderful instant aspects of our life now freeing us up to take a moment and enjoy the slower things, a record, rather than a download, tea leaves instead of a tea bag and sitting down to write rather than texting on ‘the go’
You’re a family business - how does that work between you?
As the creative side, I am mostly involved in the designs and working with commissioned artworks. When we have staff holidays, I’ll be back printing and catch up on what people are choosing and then return to my studio to work on the next collections. Sebastian is the business dev head at HoneyTree – he can’t draw or print, so looks after the business of the business…
We started from the kitchen table in our Worminster home which was ideal, but I’m glad we have outgrown that. For the first 6 years a working-at-home business is great but latterly it definitely can affect Homework balance…
Autumn invitations by HoneyTree Publishing
When, where, why and how did you start your business?
When the children were young, we lived in Spain and South Africa and I was constantly trying to encourage the kids to keep in touch with friends and family using thank you cards and letters and drawings. That’s because I always had the sense that to physically send letters and cards home was a more meaningful way to share the news, joys and life of our young family - even though I was often met with “Do I HAVE to”!
However, it was the discovery of an old box in the back of my mother’s desk, bursting with papers, envelopes and cards, that really brought home the importance of putting pen to paper. Here was the stop-start recording of my birth in the form of a telegram. “Born. Today. A baby girl. Mother doing well. We are all delighted “. A letter of congratulations from a bossy aunt, a floral card written in the shaky hand of my beloved grandmother. Here too were letters home to my parents from my former schoolgirl self; the disastrous stay with the French exchange, the postcard home from a trip to the lake district. Here were invitations, the order of service to our daughter's christening. In her little sister’s childish handwriting, a thank you letter for the tennis racquet, the Christmas money, the Sunday lunch……
From this encounter with the past, the idea of HoneyTree was born. I excitedly got to work, creating hand-drawn and coloured illustrations, motifs and designs, whilst my husband Sebastian began to work on the intricacies of building a website where it was possible to create something truly personal. No detail was spared, from the beautiful and varied designs to the papers and envelopes. But we both felt - and still do - that the most important part of the stationery is still the blank space, the space where the birth is recorded, the thanks is given, the congratulations written, the hope for the future, the acknowledgement of the past.
Describe the highs and lows of running your business
The high is that October 2019 it is HoneyTree’s 10th birthday! I can’t believe it’s been a decade, on most days it seems to have flown past, but occasionally the production flow can have a wobble and then things feel ‘real’. We now produce everything at our in-house studio in Frome are now on our third full website. Each time is SOOO painful, exciting and exhausting as we obsess about the ability to match a really easy way to create gorgeous stationery, without being too limiting...Another high is being No1 on Google for 6 years for Change of Address cards.
But the best high has to be the thousands of unedited live reviews, cards sent to us, phone calls, flowers (even) from delighted people plus each and every order that we receive we are thrilled about. People who love / get stationery seem to be the loveliest considerate tribe that we are honoured to serve.
Most memorable moment so far?
Possibly the wedding invitation we provided that was sent to the Obamas’ at the White House or the At Home card sent to Her Majesty - but we are just as excited by a birth announcement or an invitation to someone’s significant birthday. My absolute favourite is a 90th birthday that stated 8 till late!! And no presents under £50! Way to go…
What’s your company ethos?
Attention to detail. We care about the things that seem small but make a big difference – the weight of a card in the hand, the quality of an envelope, the sheen of the ribbon used to adorn our handmade gift boxes. We even include a couple of extra envelopes for those little hiccups. HoneyTree is a business not governed by algorithms and ‘big data’ but by real people dedicated to delivering the highest standards of care and support for each and every one of our many customers.
What’s the secret to your success?
Looking after the customer, enabling choice and a platform for them to be an individual. Plus, no compromise on quality and surround ourselves with team members who inspire us.
7 reasons to start a business in Somerset - by HoneyTree
- Somerset has the most small businesses by county in the UK.
- Somerset is very well connected to the rest of the country. - The trains are excellent and planning to be even better, there’s Bristol airport (the best in the UK) and great road access
- It’s techy - Ten years ago broadband was a real issue but that has been sorted and is improving all the time.
- It’s creative - We’ve got great team members locally and as a creative business are fuelled by the creativity of the county
- There’s a highly skilled workforce here -Somerset is filled with creative people who are happy to go to London to generate work but not to commute, we bring people here and they tend to stay! The calibre of staff here is outstanding. If we are looking for someone on the ‘today’ team – production, fulfilment, design and customer care - there are loads of young keen people eager to join an ecommerce brand – especially in and around Frome, Bath and Bristol. Then we have the young families moving down for the schools and gorgeous properties, which brings an army of mums who are itching to get back to using their skills, so on both counts we find Somerset well stocked in this regard.
- There’s plenty of support - There are loads of actual networking events and community support, the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else. Also Frome Town Council are particularly keen to support business and start-ups, so we filter a lot through them. Since relocating to Frome we wonder if we should have moved sooner as there is such a wide group of independents here all on the same mission.
- Other Somerset Businesses HoneyTree recommends - Bicycle Academy in Frome. They provide frame building courses and skills masterclasses for novices, enthusiasts and pros, and fully equipped workshop hire for those who don’t have their own.
FIND OUT MORE:
Telephone: 01749 899 333