One-on-one interview: Lara Newman of Cleanslate

Posted 26 August 2015 by Marc Da Silva

Continuing his ongoing series of interviews with senior figures from the world of property, this week Marc Da Silva poses the questions to Lara Newman, a director at developer Cleanslate, which operates in the South East and south London fringe.

What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas?

The market is vibrant, particularly for mainstream housing and flats. The prime housing market approaching £2m in value seemed to stall pre-election, but has since revived. While planning regulations have eased the planning process it is still often unwieldy and expensive. The recent introduction of Community Infrastructure Levies in combination with high expectations on number of affordable homes, combine to constrain viability on sites.

What types of properties is your firm developing?

We tend to specialise in brownfield sites and focus on developing unique properties which reflect the local context. Our developments include a wide spectrum of housing types including apartments, terraced and semi-detached houses and detached homes. We’ve been very lucky to be able to sensitively develop some great sites in village or rural areas.

What projects is Cleanslate currently working on and what’s in the development pipeline?

Fidlers Green - a collection of 18 houses on a 7-acre site of a former industrial mushroom farm. The project offers a low-density development with designs which fit into its context within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty while providing modern layouts and specifications and a host of individual features such as vaulted ceilings and large family rooms connected to outdoor space.

The Maltings in Newmarket, which is a courtyard development of 44 stunning homes on a town centre former industrial site, centres around an incredible conversion of a former Victorian malt house. Four different buildings combine to create a real sense of community. We have hyper-modern four-storey townhouses, luxury apartments with the option of one, two or three bedrooms and fabulous two- and three-bedroom duplexes. The only new build development in the town, we see this as Newmarket’s most stylish and versatile new address!

Our Weston Gate project, which features 10 three-, four- and five-bedroom country houses and cottages on large plots on the site of a former farm, is in the beautiful hamlet of Weston, less than 15 minutes from Newbury and Hungerford and with excellent motorway access. I think the houses are as charming as the area they inhabit, at the foot of the Berkshire Downs.

Designed to be long-term family residences, the houses are spacious and attuned to the demands of modern day living. One of the houses features its own separate home office with three further plots also carry planning permission for this option.

We currently have a fantastic project in for planning to provide approximately 50 premium luxury apartments in Weybridge and a number of other projects at pre-planning stages across the South East - up to 500 units.

How much does a new home by Cleanslate typically cost to buy?

It varies significantly, depending on the individual projects and their specific locations but we tend to focus on apartments or houses valued from £200,000 up to several million. At The Maltings, Newmarket, all properties are below the Help to Buy threshold.

Why should more buyers consider buying a new build home as opposed to older property?

Modern designs are usually much more efficient in terms of layout and are tailored to modern living – and you don’t start off with a maintenance issue. Specifications have also continually improved to optimise environmental impact and running costs. Of course, if you reserve at an early stage, you also get to choose your own finishes: kitchen, flooring, tiles etc – something you can’t possibly in the second-hand market.

What is Cleanslate’s USP?

We are a design-led company and create homes of unique character within the context of the local environment blending traditional values and craftsmanship with contemporary designs and a high level of specification.

Which of the developments Cleanslate is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award?

We believe that all of our developments would have a chance of winning an award but The Maltings has a special place in my heart! The townhouses there are ultra-modern, spacious and have amazing terrace spaces and a fabulous master suite on the top floor – we are just about to launch the show house, it’s being dressed as we speak.

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