£3.7 million to fund 5 new garden towns across the country

New garden towns will provide up to 64,000 much-needed homes across England.

Five brand new garden towns have been unveiled unlocking up to 64,000 much-needed homes across England, the Minister of State for Housing has announced today (25 March 2019).

The locally-led new communities, from Hertfordshire to Gloucestershire, will receive a share of £3.7 million of funding to fast-track specialist survey work and planning works necessary for each new town’s development.

The funds will be spent by councils to help to deliver the homes and infrastructure needed for both neighbouring communities and future residents who will call the new town home. This includes specialist survey work and planning applications.

The 5 successful bids are:

  • Grazeley Garden Settlement, delivering up to 15,000 homes
  • Hemel Garden Communities, delivering up to 11,000 homes
  • Easton Park Garden Community, North Uttlesford Garden Community and West of Braintree Garden Community, an opportunity to deliver up to 18,500 homes
  • Tewkesbury Ashchurch Garden Community, delivering up to 10,195 homes
  • Meecebrook, in the north of Stafford borough, delivering around 10,000 homes
  • Councils and groups from around the country submitted more than 100 ambitious proposals with the 5 taken forward receiving an initial £750,000 to help develop plans for vibrant, thriving settlements where people can live, work and raise families.

Today’s announcement is the next step in the government’s drive to build the homes this country needs, and follows the news last month of a £9 million investment to speed up the building of existing garden towns and villages.


Minister of State for Housing Kit Malthouse MP said:

These new towns will not only provide homes for families, but will be vibrant communities where everyone, including neighbouring communities can benefit from new infrastructure – leaving a legacy for future generations to be proud of.

I congratulate these councils who have put forward ambitious proposals, which will build many thousands of high-quality homes, and am pleased to support them as they work to make these plans a reality.

Garden communities can take the form of new villages, towns or cities and have the potential to deliver well designed homes at an increased scale, boosting the local economy and creating new jobs.

The 5 new schemes announced today will join the 23 existing garden communities the government is currently supporting, which are already delivering new homes today, bringing us closer to the government’s aim to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s.


Further information

A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes.

Including a project in the garden communities programme does not prejudice or presuppose the planning system – the appropriate planning processes will still need to be followed.

The government is committed to bringing forward a minimum of 5 additional Garden Communities, which is on top of the 23 already supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. These schemes are located at:




Otterpool Park in Kent




North Essex

North Northamptonshire Garden Villages

Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon

Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire

Tresham in East Northants

Culm in Mid Devon

Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire

West Carclaze in Cornwall

Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex

Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven District, Lincolnshire

Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside

Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath

Bailrigg in Lancaster

Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area

St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria

Handforth in Cheshire East

In addition to the 5 garden town schemes outlined above, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will also shortly announce further successful bids, including garden villages submitted prior to the 9 November 2018 deadline.


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James Brokenshire announces over £36 million for the Great British Coast

70 projects from Cornwall to Cumbria receive a total of more than £36 million.

People living in coastal communities set to benefit from new investment and economic growth

70 projects from Cornwall to Cumbria receive a total of more than £36 million

Government on track to invest over £200 million in the Great British Coast by 2020

Seventy projects up and down the Great British Coast have been awarded a total of over £36 million from a UK government fund to help develop and improve tourist attractions, create jobs and promote socio-economic growth.

This major injection of funding for coastal communities will go towards supporting innovative businesses, protecting historic buildings, new museums and restoration of much-loved coastal heritage sites.

This latest investment represents 26 awards from the fifth round of the government’s Coastal Communities Fund and 44 awards from the third phase of the Coastal Revival Fund in 2018-19. It comes on top of over £180 million from both funds invested in more than 350 projects so far across the UK.

The 26 Coastal Communities Fund projects announced today (23 March 2019) are forecast collectively to support over 15,000 jobs, and attract up to £40 million in additional investment from public and private sector sources.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:

I am determined to support investment and development of our coastal communities and create an economy that works for everyone as we prepare for Brexit and beyond.

All of the ambitious projects receiving funding today were designed and developed by local people who know what will make the biggest difference to their areas.

The sheer range of ideas demonstrate the potential of our coastal communities and will all create good jobs, boost growth and improve people’s lives now and in the future.

Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry MP said:

This is an investment in the future of our coastal communities which builds on their rich heritage and huge potential.

The world-class attractions and innovative businesses supported by the Coastal Communities Fund and the Coastal Revival Fund will increase tourism, encourage investment and ensure people thrive up and down the Great British Coast.

Today’s investment in coastal communities builds on the government’s commitment to ensure people have the opportunities to prosper no matter where they live.

The government recently announced the Stronger Towns Fund, a £1.6 billion investment which will enable new Town Deals across England, and the delivery of locally led projects creating new jobs, providing further training to help people gain valuable skills for employment, and boosting local growth.

Further information

Some of the successful projects to receive funds include:


Bord Waalk – (Northumbrian dialect for Bird Walk) – National Bird Sculpture Trail – Amble Development Trust, Northumberland (Coastal Communities Fund)

£396,000 awarded to the Bord Waalk – National Bird Sculpture Trail in Amble to create a bird themed sculpture trail of national significance to build on the highly successful Harbour Village project and raise the profile of Amble as a tourist destination.


Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast – Copeland Borough Council, Cumbria (Coastal Communities Fund)

£1.06 million awarded to a project to improve visitor infrastructure, facilities and activities along Cumbria’s ‘hidden’ coast to create new visitor demand and enhance the coastal destination offer.


Blackpool Museum Project – The AMUSEUM, Blackpool City Council, Lancashire (Coastal Communities Fund)

£1.75 million awarded to deliver the AMUSEUM – Britain’s first museum telling the story of Blackpool and its role in the development of British popular entertainment and the great British seaside holiday.


SeaGrown – putting Scarborough at the heart of the English Seaweed Industry – SeaGrown Ltd, Scarborough, Yorkshire (Coastal Communities Fund)

£472,000 awarded to establish England’s first commercial seaweed hatchery, cultivation site and outreach centre in Scarborough, driving economic growth by creating sustainable jobs in sectors currently offering few opportunities in the area.


Seafront Improvement – New Forest District Council, Milford-on-Sea (Coastal Revival Fund)

£50,000 awarded to implement Seafront Improvement (promenade access works) for improved coastal protection and coastal access along a 240 metre frontage.


Salcombe Jubilee Pier Revival – South Hams District Council, Salcombe (Coastal Revival Fund)

£50,000 awarded to conduct work to prevent further structural deterioration of the pier and to undertake work to promote its historical value to the many people that use it.


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A smart home developer has opened a new factory capable of producing 2,000 houses a year.

Project Etopia’s facility – a 50,000 sq ft factory in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire – is a joint venture with partner company 4wall, which offers a panelised construction system to help produce five three-bedroom homes per day.

Plans are already in place to scale up the facility in the future, with the addition of two more machines which could increase capacity to 6,000 units per year.

The opening of the factory will create 120 new full-time jobs in 12 months, and 250 within two years, with the factory’s plant machinery allowing for a continuous line production process that can create tens of thousands of panels of different sizes. A 110 square metre shell, consisting of lightweight 97kg panels, can be constructed by three people in eight hours, with the ability to be stacked up to 14 storeys high.

Project Etopia is currently in the process of building 47 modular eco homes in Corby, Northamptonshire, with 4wall units rolling off the production line in Ellesmere Port set to be used to complete the project.


Factory building 2,000 new homes a year opens in Ellesmere Port


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has already chosen the Corby development to be one of five Building for 2050 research projects to receive government funding.

“This is an exciting and important milestone for us that will help us achieve our ambition to produce 21,500 eco-modular homes by 2025,” Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia, said.

He said now is a critical time for housebuilding in the UK, with homes still not being built quickly enough, locking millions of people out of the property market.

“Our modular homes can be built incredibly quickly, and still be given a luxury finish, smart technology and sustainability features as standard,” he added.

“By providing environmentally-friendly, affordable houses which can be built in a matter of days, we want to make it possible for everyone to own their own home but without killing the planet. Living in a modular home is no longer a compromise.”


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How can housebuilders contribute to sustainable water management?

From water saving devices and rainwater harvesting to sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), there are myriad ways in which housebuilders can contribute to sustainable water management. Despite cost and space restrictions, many of these solutions are easily, and affordably, implemented within new homes and during the construction process

The measures that housebuilders can take are twofold: use alternative sources of water, and introduce water-efficient devices within the home.

Firstly, there is rainwater harvesting in the form of water butts and below-ground storage tanks. These provide an alternative water source to mains water. Recycled rainwater can have numerous uses around the home, such as flushing toilets, use in washing machines or simply watering the garden. By incorporating some treatment into the rainwater harvesting and recycling system, it can be used for a range of clean water activities as well.

Greywater recycling can also be used. Water from sinks, dishwashers and washing machines can be filtered and reused to some extent around the home, such as for flushing toilets. However, recycled greywater is unlikely to be suitable for clean water uses such as drinking water or the preparation of food.

Within the home, housebuilders can equip homes with water-efficient white goods. We’re all familiar with energy efficiency labels on appliances, but not many people are aware that white goods also have a water efficiency rating, which is displayed on the same label. Commonly found on the bottom-left hand corner of the label, estimated average annual water use per annum is displayed and will let you know if your washing machine or dishwasher is water efficient or not.

There are other water-saving products that can be fitted in new homes, or retrofitted into existing properties. Water-efficient brass goods such as taps with time flow controls or aerating spouts can be used. Water-efficient showers and WC cisterns provide more opportunity for water saving in the home.

Being able to track water usage is crucial. Most new homes include water meters and when people are financially incentivised to use less water, they often will.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) offer a wide variety of possibilities in terms of sustainable water management. The introduction of SuDS into any development proposal can enhance the viability of the scheme and will be one of the core requirements of the planning process. It is vital that surface water management and SuDS are considered at the earliest possible stage of a development proposal.

How water is being captured, attenuated, treated for pollutants and discharged, and whether it’s being done sustainably, plays a huge role in the success of a planning decision. Local Planning Authorities, Water Authorities and environmental regulators such as the Environment Agency place restrictions on the amount of surface water you can discharge from a development and will expect to see sustainable drainage measures incorporated into any development proposals. SuDS schemes will contribute greatly towards the goal of reducing this by controlling surface water at source, reducing flood risk and providing pollution treatment. SuDS can also provide significant amenity and ecological value to a development.


rainwater harvesting, suds, sustainable water management,On-site water efficiency

From dust suppression and hydro-demolition to general cleaning and site cabins, construction sites use a huge amount of water. Water meters can help site managers monitor how much water is being used. Following that, toolbox talks about best practice surrounding water use can inform everyone on site of the need to save water and ways of doing so. This can help introduce a culture where any wastage or leaks on site are reported back to the site manager so they can be addressed.

In terms of actually using water, think about how it’s used on site. Hoses should be fitted with triggers so they’re not idly running. High pressure, low volume devices are effective without using a lot of water. Similarly, when it comes to a lot of cleaning requirements, use standing reservoirs such as buckets, which can make use of harvested rainwater or greywater.

The greatest challenge is cost. Any kind of surface water attenuation, control or treatment device we highlight as being important isn’t going to be popular if it’s expensive. Putting in sub-surface rainwater harvesting systems and the mechanical and electrical infrastructure required to treat and recycle the water will increase costs dramatically.

Then there are the physical space restrictions on a development site. On brownfield sites, there are is often limited above-ground space and some SuDS systems simply cannot be fitted in. Below ground, there might also be a huge amount of existing infrastructure in place, such as gas and electricity mains, as well as existing drainage and water supply infrastructure.  This prevents the use of subterranean storage and recycling tanks.

On greenfield and brownfield sites, once of the biggest barriers is that civil engineers aren’t consulted at an early enough stage in the development process. It is often the case that a civil engineer is asked to advise on drainage issues after the architectural layout is already in place without consideration having been given to sustainable water management. At this point it becomes a process of ‘making do’ and achieving the bare minimum, when there is so much more potential for water saving, pollution reduction, flood risk reduction and innovation in this field.

There’s also a lack of legislative drive to use rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling schemes, though this is getting better. As our understanding of climate change increases and new technology becomes available, the standards for surface water management need to evolve with it to ensure that all new developments reduce flood risk on- and off-site site, now and in the future. Currently, there isn’t much pressure for developers to incorporate rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling. With water becoming an ever-more precious resource, it is important that legislation drives the use of rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling systems and recognises it as a way to address potential future water shortages.

Finally, there’s a lack of awareness amongst developers of rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling systems and what they can offer their development. Many of these systems are still new and people don’t think to incorporate them. The same applies to water metering. Perhaps some incentive scheme to developers from the government would also help here.


While there is still work to be done towards consistently integrating sustainable water management in the build process, it is not an impossible task. Rainwater harvesting, water-saving products and SuDS are all steps in the right direction. By combining improved legislation and incentive schemes with clear and early communication with civil engineers, we can transform sustainable water management from a seemingly costly after thought into an inherent element of housebuilding.

Phil Allen


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Offsite construction aids sustainable community in Oxfordshire

Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage, joined Greencore Construction to celebrate the opening of one of Britain’s most sustainable communities, in Longcot, Oxfordshire

Kings Farm Close in Oxfordshire is a new development of 15 eco-homes, including six affordable homes built to the same high-performance standards in one of the most expensive areas of the UK.

Thanks to an innovative offsite construction system that uses natural materials, all of the homes have near-zero carbon footprints and will benefit from very low energy bills. The One Planet Living framework used to develop Kings Farm Close also means that residents will be encouraged to manage their community to high environmental standards.

The affordable homes will include three two-bedroom homes and one three-bedroom home, let to tenants at below-market rates by Sovereign Housing Association, and two shared ownership homes reserved for local people who want to get onto the property ladder for the first time. Nine further homes adapted through offsite construction will also be coming up for sale in summer 2019.

Local MP, Ed Vaizey, said: “The vast majority of new-build homes in the UK are of bland design, poor build quality and lack basic sustainability credentials. Much of this is to do with national housebuilders refusing to embrace new technologies and construction methods.

“The Kings Farm Close development, however, is a shining example of forward-thinking, modern housebuilding from a team of people who are clearly very committed to bringing sustainable living to everyone – whether you own, part-own or rent your home.”

Each property at Kings Farm Close was prefabricated by Oxfordshire housebuilder Greencore Construction, before being transported to site and assembled by the firm’s build team.

Ian Pritchett, managing director at Greencore Construction, commented: “Greencore has been promoting the use of offsite construction for some time, and we build all our homes in our local factory using natural materials with low embodied carbon. Working in this way means our homes can be completed very quickly and to exceptionally high standards of quality control, all the while having a much lower impact on the environment.”

A fifth of the site’s total area will be shared green space, planted and managed with native trees to support wildlife under a biodiversity plan.

Martin Pike, director of Oxford Advanced Living, added: “This project has allowed us to put into practice all our ideas and determination to create a genuinely sustainable community in Oxfordshire, where the same high performance standards are available to everyone, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying a home.

“We believe that all the residents will be able to enjoy greener and healthier lifestyles at Kings Farm Close, and we look forward to their feedback to help us with future projects.”


See original article here


Digital tool to help deliver thousands of homes

An interactive tool to help match builders to plots of land which are ready for home-building has been launched today, to help get properties completed more quickly.


  • Homes England launches its interactive Land Hub, updated with 148 sites available for development in the next 18 months.
  • Sites total 2,500 acres of developable land.


Nearly 2,500 acres ready for development will be made available to developers, including small and medium-sized building companies, to purchase and get properties built.

The tool has been developed by Homes England, the Government’s housing accelerator.

The Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said:

“We are determined to help a new generation realise the dream of home ownership which is why we are determined to see 300,000 new homes built a year by the mid-2020s.

“The Land Hub will help match developers to sites where they can build the properties communities need.”

Over the next 18 months, 148 sites are going to be made available via the online Land Hub with the potential for thousands of homes to be built. The site will include details of the planning status, size and proposed use – such as residential, industrial or commercial – of each site.

Getting the whole sector behind the latest innovations in development and building will be key to achieving 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. Homes England is supporting builders to do this through initiatives such as the Government’s £4.5 billion Home Building Fund, which provides support to builders using modern methods of construction and new, innovative builders entering the market.

Sir Edward Lister, Chairman of Homes England, said:

“Bringing another 148 sites to market demonstrates the scale of Homes England’s ambition to unlock land and accelerate the delivery of homes the country needs.

“We are keen to speak to developers about the opportunities in our latest pipeline and want to collaborate with both major developers and smaller builders to create a more resilient housing market.”

The extra sites being released to developers follows the news that Homes England has agreed a partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to develop land being released by the Ministry of Defence. This has the potential to deliver over 10,000 homes across seven brownfield sites.

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said:

“This partnership provides another great opportunity for Homes England to intervene in the housing market and make homes happen.

“By combining our skills and expertise with the DIO to progress brownfield sites no longer needed by the Ministry of Defence, we will speed up the process of providing much-needed homes.”


See original article here


For more information contact Sarah Tucker, PR and Media Officer at Homes England on 020 7393 2261/07970 973134 or email sarah.tucker@homesengland.gov.uk


Bungalows for the retired? Think again

From grand villas on the Isle of Bute to city centre flats, the over-55s are starting anew


Gabriella Bennett


It used to be easy to recognise a retirement home; unprepossessing flats in modern developments on the fringes of town were the norm. Now it is not so simple.



Retired couples are upsizing to trophy villas, such as this five-bedroom home in Pollokshields, Glasgow, on sale for offers for more than £875,000


Retirees are rewriting the market’s rules by bidding on the same properties as chichi families in urban hotspots. They are also upsizing instead of moving to smaller properties. Figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) showed that 46 per cent of homeowners aged 55 to 74 spent extra money on their latest move, with 28 per cent buying a larger property with more bedrooms.


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JLL says Build to Rent will bring over 2,000 homes to Bristol by 2021

More than 2,000 new Build to Rent apartments are set to be created in Bristol in the next three years, according to property firm JLL.

We recently outlined the latest activity in the Build to Rent sector and made a site visit to Tipi’s newest development in Wembley Park – both of which act as examples of this trend being in vogue more than any other.

Now JLL says this model of housing - designed specifically for the rental market - is set to play an important role in delivering much-needed housing supply to Bristol, as well as attracting significant investment to the city.

Yesterday, JLL held a sold-out seminar on Build to Rent (hosted by Women in Property), which threw a spotlight on the burgeoning sector. It first came to prominence in the US, where it’s known as multi-family residential. In recent years it’s become increasingly popular in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France.

The model has become firmly established in London of late and is now taking hold in Bristol, with neighbouring cities such as Cardiff and Exeter expected to follow suit.

A fast-growing sector within the UK property market, it attracted over £2 billion of investment last year alone and £2.7 billion the year before that. In contrast to the wider private rented sector, Build to Rent schemes are designed specifically for a community of tenants. They’re also managed by a single professional landlord or investor and offer a range of services and communal spaces, from 24-hour concierge and gyms to co-working space, shared kitchens and guest and event spaces to hire.

The aim is for residents to benefit from an emphasis on quality, community and service, while the model also provides a valuable long-term asset for investors. Meanwhile, for developers, improved cashflow means homes can be delivered in a shorter timeframe than traditional homes.

“The spotlight is on Build to Rent in Bristol with funders, developers and consultants all talking about it and exploring opportunities,” Rachael Sherratt, Women in Property South West vice-chair and associate at JLL in Bristol, said.

“Regional developments of Build to Rent homes are, for the first time, now on a par with numbers being delivered in London, which illustrates that this is definitely a sector that is here to stay.”

She said that one of the key points of difference that comes with a Build to Rent home is convenience.

“In an ever-connected world we are becoming used to having access to services 24/7 and through our mobile devices. So living somewhere where you can request a tap is fixed, get a parcel delivered or book a guest bedroom all through an app or email is highly desirable.”

Examples in Bristol include Finzels Reach, where 194 apartments are being developed by Cubex at Hawkins & George for Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. Once completed, it will be the first purpose-designed Build to Rent development to open in Bristol. It’s due to launch soon.

Cubex is also planning a further 250 Build to Rent apartments on the former Avon Fire and Rescue headquarters site as part of the next phase of Finzels Reach.

Elsewhere, there are other Build to Rent schemes at both concept and construction stages around the city. These include Bedminster Green, ND7 at Temple Quay, Castle Park View and around Ashton Gate stadium with their plans for a new community next to the basketball arena.

Sherratt, who is also JLL’s project manager for Hawkins & George at Finzels Reach, added: “There has been a lot of interest from the property community in the apartments at Finzels Reach that we have been working on with Cubex and Grainger. Their interest in this region is bound to be followed by other key names in Build to Rent, and with Bristol regularly voted one of the top places to live in the UK, this should come as no surprise."

Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, said large and seemingly ever-growing numbers of people want to live and work in Bristol, many of whom are looking to rent – some for economic reasons, but many as a lifestyle choice.

“They may want to stay for just a few years with the ability to move on quickly, and they want to live in the heart of a thriving city with a lively social scene, so flexibility and quality are key,” he commented. “In terms of regeneration and the development of the city centre, Build to Rent is now becoming an important part of the mix to create balanced communities alongside homes for private sale and affordable homes.”


The model also paves the way for these communities to be created quickly, Bridge added. “Unlike new homes for sale, Build to Rent apartments will see dozens of homes occupied in a matter of weeks. This means an area thrives fast, and for businesses - like the newly opened Spicer+Cole at Finzels Reach and Left Handed Giant which is opening a brew-pub in the summer - customers are on the doorstep quickly.”


Panellists at the Women in Property-hosted event on Tuesday included Anna Johnson, associate director in Residential Capital Markets in JLL's London office, Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, the developer behind Finzels Reach, and Alex Notay, Build to Rent fund director for PfP Capital, the fund and asset management arm of Places for People Group.


Bristol was recently voted as the best UK city for house-sharers and in a recent BBC study was also found to be the best place to live outside London for those aged under 26.


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Oxford to Cambridge's revived Varsity Line:the 'brain belt' towns offering new commuter homes with future house price growth

A planned new rail link between the UK’s famed university cities promises 100,000 new homes — a game changer for commuters.


The American trend of building new communities around expanding academic institutions and research hubs is coming to Britain, opening up opportunities for commuters and home buyers in the South-East.

New housing schemes are springing up around science parks sited in what has been dubbed the Oxford to Cambridge “knowledge belt,” inspired by the new residential districts built around Stanford University in California and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An exclusive new study for Homes & Property from property group Bidwells predicts 10,000 new homes will be built over the next four years in the corridor between Britain’s two best-known university cities.

Helping to spur growth is an ambitious plan to reopen the old Varsity Line railway between Oxford and Cambridge, bringing 100,000 new homes by 2031.


Oxbridge: new rail line will link the two university cities

As the crow flies the two cities are about 100 miles apart, yet the quickest way to travel from one to the other is to take a train to London and another one out again, says Rob Hopwood of Bidwells.


Today’s Oxford-Cambridge travel drudge

London King’s Cross to Cambridge North: 57 minutes (there’s a free taxi for commuters to the Cambridge Science Park or a 20-minute walk)

London Paddington to Oxford: 57 minutes (there’s a car-sharing scheme from Oxford to the Oxford Science Park)

Oxford to Cambridge: two changes. The quickest route is two hours and 45 minutes


A new East West Rail link would bring together Oxford — a specialist hub for aerospace and artificial intelligence — and Cambridge, a hub for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, opening up villages and towns that sit in the triangle beween the two uni cities and London, he adds.


Matt Sampson of developer U+I agrees: “There are justifiable sensitivities around the release of the green belt — but the Oxbridge railway is the big change needed to finally unlock this region.”


The railway would run from Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford, with five proposed routes between Bedford and Cambridge which are being debated and could mean new stations for Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne, Bassingbourn and Tempsford, and the relocation of the station at Sandy.


Property in Cambridge


Despite high house prices at an average £441,693, Cambridge is already a family favourite and is still cheaper than London.

“The upgrade of Cambridge station and the regeneration of King’s Cross has made the commute more pleasant,” says Richard Freshwater of Cheffins estate agents.

“There are fantastic schools and families get more for their money. Of all the destinations along the East West Railway, Cambridge will be the winner.”

Michael Houlden of Strutt & Parker adds: “The housing market is underpinned by its thriving job market. AstraZeneca, Amazon, Spotify, Google and Apple all have a base here.”


From £319,950 to £1,099,950: flats and houses for sale off-plan at Athena in Cambridge University’s Eddington residential district

The regeneration specialist U+I is transforming the water recycling centre near the Cambridge Science Park into housing. The £3.5 billion project will create 5,200 homes and a million square feet of office, retail, leisure and community space over the next 15 years.


Cambridge University is developing its own residential district, Eddington, named after astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington.

The site will comprise 3,000 homes, 2,000 postgraduate student rooms, a school, a nursery, sports facilities, a market square and parkland. Homes are available to buy off-plan in the first phase.

Properties at Athena, by the developer Hill, will range from flats to five-bedroom detached houses with balconies, courtyard gardens and co-working space.

Prices start from £319,950, with mews houses from £699,950 and detached houses from £1,099,950.

From £275,000 to £699,995: studio flats to four-bedroom houses at Aura, a 650-home scheme in Cambridge by Countryside

Countryside is building 650 homes at Aura, close to the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology.

Studios cost £275,000, with four-bedroom houses from £699,995.

Surveyor Giles Turton relocated from London to Cambridge nine years ago. His now-wife Emma followed in 2014 and the couple have since built a small property portfolio.


Relocation: Giles and Emma Turton moved to Cambridge from London (Geoff Robinson)

They bought a two-bedroom Victorian terrace house close to the city centre for £350,000 in 2014 and spent about £50,000 modernising it, adding a side return. The house is now worth £500,000.


Giles and Emma have just finished renovating a three-bedroom period property and putting back its character features. It is within a 10-minute cycle ride of the station and near the River Cam.

“We’re confident it will offer us a great return,” says Giles. He now works in Cambridge but Emma still commutes to the City.


Property in Oxford


Prices are one of the biggest threats to Oxford’s science and technology sector with the average house costing 12.6 times average annual earnings.

Just over five minutes from Oxford Parkway station, Hill is building 237 homes at Mosaics. With green roofs and solar panels, this eco-friendly scheme has woodland walkways and playgrounds.

On the outskirts, prices start from £295,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £362,500 for a two-bedroom flat and £540,000 for a three-bedroom house. Help to Buy is available on homes up to £600,000.


From £295,000 to 540,000: one-bedroom flats to three-bedroom houses at Mosaics by developer Hill near Oxford Parkway station

Property in Didcot

Didcot, 15 miles south of Oxford, is a cheaper alternative and right by Milton Park where 250 companies and 9,000 workers are located. It’s one of the largest science clusters in the country.

“Didcot had a bad reputation a few years ago,” says David Green of architecture and urban design firm Perkins+Will, “but it has improved a lot since the power station was turned off.”



Londoners are moving to this city to make their budget go further

Green is working on a masterplan that will bring more homes and connect Didcot with Milton Park.

The average house price in Didcot is £343,138 and Taylor Wimpey is building 3,300 homes at Great Western Park.

A consortium of developers is investing £120 million in the surrounding area on transport and schools.


Property in Milton Keynes


A popular commuter location, Milton Keynes is becoming a business hub in its own right. Goldman Sachs, Metro Bank, Network Rail, Red Bull Racing and Santander all have offices there.

House prices rose eight per cent last year and there is a healthy pipeline of construction.


From £199,000: flats and houses at Oakgrove Village, Milton Keynes

Crest Nicholson is building 1,000 flats and family homes at Oakgrove Village, five minutes from the town centre.


Prices start from £199,000 in the Maple Grove phase and there’s a Waitrose on site, plus a Costa Coffee.


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