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Building Blocks - the thought that goes into planning your perfect property

Mark Gale

Mark Gale



A huge amount of care goes into every McCarthy & Stone development. From the right location to wow-factor interiors, each stage reflects a dedication to creating quality homes

All in the planning

Finding the right site for a new development, close to facilities and with easy accessibility, is the job of Conor Garvey, senior land buyer at McCarthy & Stone. His team secured a site in the town of Chipping Norton, which will house a Retirement Living PLUS development plus Lifestyle Living independent bungalows and houses, all opening in summer 2018.

Q: How do you choose a site?

A: ‘It’s all about the location. It has to be in a desirable area that potential homeowners dream of living in. We look at towns mainly, with good local facilities and within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, banks and doctors. Our sales database also shows us areas customers are interested in and we look at sites in those areas.’

Q: Why Chipping Norton?

A: ‘A percentage of the sites we look at are in aspirational areas. We already have a few Cotswolds developments, in Stow-on-the Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Cirencester, Stroud and Tetbury; so Chipping Norton was the obvious next step. We found a site that was previously owned by Parker Knoll furniture. It’s a perfect location with great local facilities – just a half-mile walk to town – and there are good transport links too.’

Q: What about your homeowners’ specific requirements?

A: ‘Making sure that the location will fit our homeowners’ needs is a game-changer when it comes to which sites we pick. Accessibility is really important. Making sure that pedestrian walkways are wide enough for motorised buggies or wheelchairs is a high priority, and the Chipping Norton site fits the bill with wide, flat pavements.’  

Q: Being sensitive to the local area must be important.

A: ‘Yes. We work closely with local councils to ensure we meet planning requirements and have public consultation meetings. At Chipping Norton, we have had pre-planning meetings with the district council and local town council. We have to ensure we fit in with the area’s policies and balance the build with carefully chosen materials to match the local vernacular. Some of the details – the colour of the stone, the roof tiles, the slates and the windows – will reflect the local style. Our architects will look at matching the pitch of the roofs and window elevations to typical Cotswold buildings, for example.’

Q: How long does it take from finding the site to planning stage?

A: ‘It varies a lot. Some sites will already have planning permission, so that speeds up the process. With Chipping Norton, I started looking at the site in August 2015. It can take a year to get permission. You can’t rush it. Ensuring a good site for McCarthy & Stone homeowners is all about planning. It needs to be done properly to make sure we have the support of the district council and local people when we get to the committee stage.’

Brick by brick

Once the plans are approved, the building team swing into action. Oak Grange is a Retirement Living development now completed  
in Cheshire. Phil Hamlin, McCarthy & Stone senior site manager, talks us through it. 

Q: Oak Grange is in a beautiful setting. How has it been to build on?

A: ‘It was previously The Royal British Legion social club. It’s in Hartford village, surrounded by residential housing, with mature trees on two sides and a tennis and bowling club on the other. Luckily, we’ve had good weather so far. We try to limit disruption to the local community as much as possible so, for example, timing deliveries not to clash with drop-off times at the school opposite.’ 
Q: Is there a set pattern to a build?

A: ‘Not really – every build is different. We use traditional methods with brickwork and concrete blockwork, but we also incorporate other materials, such as rendering and panelling. At Oak Grange, our main material is a smoked red facing brick with composite panelling on the top of the second floor. We can have up to 50 people working on site.’

Q: What about the gardens?

A: ‘The development will be landscaped towards the end of the programme. The design takes into account the existing trees – majestic horse chestnuts and silver birch.’  
Q: How long will the build take?

A: ‘It’s scheduled for 49 weeks, with the first homeowners in spring. Our show complex will be open eight weeks earlier, so you can see how your future home could be.

On the inside 

The flagship Bowes Lyon Court Retirement Living PLUS development of 62 apartments is set in Poundbury, Prince Charles’ urban extension of Dorchester, which was visited by Her Majesty The Queen in October when she unveiled a statue of the Queen Mother. Regional sales and marketing director Kim Caldwell discusses the development.

Q: What influenced the theme?

A: ‘We used neutral tones and soft pastels to reflect the Dorset countryside. The sprigged wallpaper in the homeowners’ lounge and dining areas is set off by lilac and turquoise in the upholstery and the Shaker-inspired coffee tables.’ 
Q: How do you make the shared areas welcoming?

A: ‘The communal areas are central to the development. The atrium is a great meeting point, with USB ports, charging points and Wi-Fi, where homeowners often gather before lunch. They can also relax on the outdoor terrace. It’s the little touches that make a difference, from the stylish lanterns in the club lounge to the cosy library. There is also the snooker room and a Wellbeing Suite where you can relax with a treatment.’ 

Q: What special features can homeowners look out for?

A: ‘Everything is designed for ease, comfort and safety. You’ll find plug sockets at waist height, lifts to all floors and wide corridors, which are easy to move around. The apartments have mid-height Neff ovens, lever mixer taps, video door entry, a 24-hour call system, smoke and intruder alarms, and  illuminated light switches to the bathroom and main bedroom.’

Q: As this is an extension of Prince Charles’ Poundbury development, did visual elements have to fit in?

A: ‘Yes, the façade was produced by Ben Pentreath, who works with the Duchy of Cornwall on most buildings in Poundbury. The Duchy approved our technical drawings before we began work, and our heating system is supplied by its biogas source.’

The show apartments at Bowes Lyon Court are now available to view. Click here to find out more.

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