The Power of Two
Seven newly-built houses in Leigh on Mendip, Somerset, look as stylish as you'd expect contemporary country homes near Frome and Mells to be. But what you might not have guessed is that they've been built with environmental principles at their core. We asked brothers Will and James Habershon, the family team behind the Hornbeam Lane project to explain.
Brothers Will (L) and James Habershon, the team behind Habershon Land's Somerset development
Tell us a bit about yourselves and why you do what you do.....
Family values are really important to us and we are lucky that as brothers, our skill sets complement each other really well and lend themselves to property development. We grew up at Coleford House in Coleford, which is 4 minutes away from the development site. Coleford House was very special to us as it belonged to our grandparents before our parents owned it and we spent many happy years there. We used to go for long cycle rides around the country lanes and this included cycling past Hornbeam Lane. We were fortunate enough go to the lovely All Hallows’ School so the area is very familiar to us and we thought it was crying out for some new high quality homes. Then 20 years ago we went to launch of Babington House and this only enhanced our motivation to build luxury homes in Leigh.
The Hornbeam Lane development
Describe your environmental ethos...
We both have a strong interest in the environment and trying to limit fossil fuels wherever possible and want to do all we can for the planet so it is a better place to live for our children and grandchildren. Will, the managing director, went to the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester where he did a dissertation on “The Future of Green Buildings”. This further cemented (excuse the pun!) his desire to be as green as possible. For this reason, our houses have solar panels and air source heat pumps and are fossil fuel free – which means cheaper running costs for homeowners too!
Is eliminating fossil fuels your main mission?
No, we also feel strongly about protecting animals and birds. Every creature is important and this is why we installed Bird Brick houses into every house providing a permanent, maintenance free nest for the birds. It was a real joy to see the house martins raising their young in these little boxes. As Habershon Land we also strives to plant as many trees as possible and for this reason we are planting a mixed species native hedge around the boundaries. This is made up of a mixture of field maple, dog rose, hawthorn and hazel. We are also planting daffodils, blue-blues and tilia (lime trees) further enhancing cover and food for nature. The privet hedges on the front lawns will provide privacy and will be ever green.
Plot 4 at Hornbeam Lane
What about the building materials?
We love to support local businesses where possible. We used the Lovell Stone Group in Dorset for the Purbeck Stone and Yandles in the nearby Martock for the wooden cladding to name but a few. We also use good quality natural materials rather than synthetic materials so we used natural stone and wood on the exterior along with Doulting stone for the window sills and window heads and natural internal finishes like oak and slate flooring and state of the art white quartz for the kitchen worktops and ceramics for the bathrooms. We decided to use hardwood for the windows and doors rather than softwood as we wanted to build using materials that would last the test of time.
How has your interest in the environment further influenced the design?
Because people spend so much time in their homes, we believe it’s important to bring as much natural light as possible into the house as possible. We worked with Orme Architects to create buildings that utilise the natural light by having south or south west facing gardens and bi-fold and French doors on the south facing sides of the properties.
What have been your favourite moments when creating the Hornbeam site?
We have loved working on the Hornbeam Lane houses. The local community are really friendly and it was a bonus being able to pop to the popular Talbot Inn in Mells for business lunches when we had a quiet moment. We loved hearing the owls making their early morning or early evening twit too noises. It was satisfying being able to brag about having some of the only green lawns in Somerset during the heat wave this summer (thanks to Sherborne Turf) and mowing the lawns whilst catching a few rays in the south facing gardens was a definite highlight. We also really enjoyed working with The Shaker Kitchen company and Neptune Kitchens to create kitchens that we would personally use (and are going to use!) for our own homes. It was really fun sourcing materials from local businesses, e.g. doulting stone and getting advise from the renowned interior designer Clarissa Clifford.
Six houses have been sold as of April 2019 with only Plot 6 remaining