Country houses for sale

Love them or loathe them, new builds are here to stay, as their popularity continues to rise

There’s no doubt about it — new-build homes are increasingly popular. From convenience and preference for local materials to environmental benefits, Annunciata Elwes finds out why.

Despite the lamented shortages of everything from timber to glass, not to mention workers, which has hampered the completion of many a property this year, the popularity of new-builds appears to be steadily rising. In fact, research from global investment gurus JLL shows that annual reservations in Q1 2022 were up by 45%.

‘Covid-19 highlighted the importance that you need to love where you live,’ explains Maria Harikantra of JLL’s capital markets team. In London at least, ‘choosing to live in a new-build home has become a lifestyle choice with the opportunity to become part of a wider community’, with new-builds often in ‘neighbourhoods that are either already sought-after… or in regeneration areas that are fast evolving… [into] cultural hotspots’.

The working-from-home benefits are obvious and although countryside developments often offer buyers more opportunity to tailor a home to requirements, many in the city contain meeting rooms, 24-hour concierges and gyms.

101 on Cleveland

The 88 New York-loft-style apartments at 101 on Cleveland, London W1, are a great example, with applicants up 25% in three months and 62% on last year. Interest has come from ‘a range of buyers—from students who want close proximity to university to frequent travellers who value connectivity,’ adds Miss Harikantra. Prices start from £1.3 million and four three-bedroom penthouses recently launched, from £4.2 million (

Recommended videos for you

Another factor of increasing concern is the environment: ‘Whether they are driven purely by costs, social responsibility or likely a combination of both; what is clear is that buyers will be taking energy consumption into consideration more,’ says Meg Eglington, JLL’s senior residential research analyst.

‘Findings from JLL’s latest Living Priorities survey showed that 80% of respondents said the environmental impact of their home will be either crucial or important in their next move, with the number of people willing to purchase a new home (if it meant improved environmental efficiency) rising from 51% from their last move, to 78% going forward.’ Meanwhile, in the UK, ’83% of new-build properties boast an EPC rating of A or B, versus only 3% for existing stock’.

Matlock Spa

The community and environmental aspects of new-builds in cities translate well into the countryside, particularly for clever developers who appreciate a dose of history; The Prince of Wales’s Poundbury in Dorset springs to mind, as does Charles Rifkind’s ongoing transformation of abandoned Cawdor Quarry—which once provided stone for Hyde Park Corner and the Thames Embankment—a short walk from Georgian Matlock in the Peak District. Working with David Morley Architects, the local landowner is creating five villages known as Matlock Spa, with 500 sustainable homes for some 2,000 people that focus on wellbeing, much like the spa towns of old (

Once complete in 2025, there will be Classical crescents, woodland lodges, courtyard cottages and villas, all in local stone and slate, with further eco credentials from an ecology park, modern insulation, air-source heat pumps and business units with grass roofs and solar panels; cars will be hidden and roads designed to encourage walking and cycling. ‘It will change Derbyshire,’ comments the Duke of Devonshire, whose seat, Chatsworth, is eight miles away.

Mr Rifkind, who endured a 20-year-long planning process before work could begin, comments: ‘We have set out to create a new place of beauty and architectural merit that will stand the test of time, reflecting this extraordinary setting… We want Matlock Spa to establish positive principles for creating high-quality homes that enhance the landscape in other parts of England, rather than the nondescript housing delivered by some of the major housebuilders.’

Winkfield Park

The first phase of townhouses, terraced cottages, apartments and penthouses launched in 2020 (from £330,000) and with 60% occupied, demand has been high, reports Anthony Taylor of Fine & Country, both ‘from families… along with young professionals and couples… There is nothing to compare with Matlock Spa’. The next phase of 24 apartments gets under way this week and will complete in September 2023.

More familiar to most, perhaps, are the smaller scale rural conversions, embellishments and new ‘country-house complexes’. One example is Grade II-listed Downash House in Flimwell, East Sussex, where family-run Nicol Developments has created eight two- and three-bedroom apartments, with Victorian features alongside sleek, modern bathrooms and kitchens; from £495,000 with Hamptons.

Another is Winkfield Park, near Ascot in Berkshire—a collection of 15 new houses and apartments set to complete in August and September respectively, including coachhouses and a five-bedroom farmhouse, with five acres of landscaped grounds within 30-acre Winkfield Park Polo Club; from £1.1 million through Savills.

Developments such as these have been popping up for years; the commuter links tend to be excellent and the quality is getting better and better as more people catch on to the benefits. Wherever it is, ‘a new home is a blank canvas that buyers can make their own,’ concludes Hamptons’ James Dalton.