Developing luxury homes

Developing luxury homes

Stephen Smith, Director of Sherland Heights Ltd, is currently developing eight luxury homes in an exclusive gated development at Stonegallows near Taunton. He chatted to PHPD about the challenges faced and the accomplishments made on this interesting project.

Nestled on the outskirts of Taunton, in the leafy location of Stonegallows, sits the exclusive Sherlands Heights developments. Surrounded by tranquil open countryside and spectacular rural views, the site will eventually be home to eight executive new-build properties, all individually designed to take-in the far reaching views of the Quantock and the Blackdown Hills.

Currently two of the properties are complete and occupied with another two sold subject to contract and a further four are under construction with interested parties keen to purchase; but when experienced property developer Stephen Smith took ownership of the plot, he didn’t imagine it would take three years to progress from already having a planning consent for eight large basic houses to the build stage of eight desirable properties.

Stephen explains: “We became aware of the plot in 2012, and after a recommendation from our architect we successfully purchased it. During the recession of 2012 banks were not lending money, which is why we got a look in!”

Planning permission

The unmatched location and Outline Planning Permission for eight exclusive dwellings made the large plot a very attractive purchase. Stephen’s architect, Broadoak Building Design, designed eight tailor-made properties to lie organically around the 3.5-acre site. Individually conceived with substantial accommodation over three floors, the expansive properties were carefully considered to blend traditional and contemporary construction methods – with eco-friendliness and sustainability at the heart of their design.

hallNotwithstanding the considered design, planning permission was elusive. Stephen says: “It took a couple of years to achieve, what should have been done in a couple of months.”

The planning department at the local council were keen for the properties to be laid out in a more formulaic way within the site, akin to a commonplace new-build style scheme.

“We favoured a more organic layout within the plot, which we felt blended well with other properties in the vicinity,” says Stephen.

Eventually, amendments were made, a compromise was reached and construction was able to get underway.

Stephen explains: “I have been working with the same architect for over thirty years. We were confident that Sherlands Heights was going to be a ground-breaking project, as there are no other new-build developments like it in the area. I was so pleased to be finally getting construction started.”

 Target audience

As the build progressed, interest in Sherlands Heights was immediately sparked, but as Stephen explains, the potentials purchasers were not the developer’s expected target audience: “We expected our buyers to come from the medical or military sectors; consultants from the local hospital or senior servicemen. But the development has attracted interested parties from far and wide – Dublin, Sydney, Dubai! Expats who have decided to retire and return home.”

As an experienced developer of luxury properties, Stephen knew what kind of homes he needed to build, to attract the right kind of buyers to the exclusive gated development, and high specification was at the top of the agenda.

“Although the exterior of the properties at Sherlands Heights is traditional in design, we have ensured that internally the homes have a truly modern look and feel, with premium quality at the heart of everything we do.”

 Premium qualityImpey Floor Former Dec, Sherlands Height Development, Taunton.

Oak staircases, hand-carved stone fireplaces and bespoke kitchens all form part of the offering. As do large, well-appointed wetrooms as a standard feature. Stephen says: “We have found that a wet room or wet area rates highly on the wish-lists of most of our buyers, so we have chosen to incorporate one into all of the properties we are building at Sherlands Heights, as in integral part of our luxury offering.

Stephen specified Impey AquaDec floor formers and Impey Waterguard tanking kits to provide the properties with a complete wetroom solution: “We like to be able to ‘fit and forget’ – ensuring the products we choose are of great quality and well fitted so the homeowner doesn’t experience any problems with them when they move in.

“As a preferred manufacturer, we have found Impey products to be of excellent quality. Our installers have found the Waterguard Tanking Kits and Impey wetroom floor formers to be incredibly easy to fit and leak-free.”

Contemporary feel

The contemporary aesthetic and clean lines of the wetrooms coordinates well with the open plan nature of the properties at Sherlands Heights and has contributed towards the achievement of a landmark success for the development.

Sherlands Heights is the first new build development in Taunton to achieve a sales value of over £1 million. Stephen concludes: “They said it would be impossible to break the £1 million mark for a new build property in the Taunton area – but we did it! The location, design and quality of the properties most definitely warrants the price-tags.” 

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