One-on-one interview: Paul Silver of Dorchester Living

Posted 17 September 2015 by Marc Da Silva

This week, Marc Da Silva looks deep into the home counties to continue his weekly series of exclusive interviews with leading figures in the UK housebuilding industry, posing the questions to Paul Silver, ceo of Dorchester Living, part of Dorchester Regeneration.

What stage is the Dorchester Living currently at with their major Heyford Park scheme in Oxfordshire?

Following the success of the first phases of homes at Heyford Park, which have nearly sold out, we launched Phase 3 on the weekend of 12/13 September, which comprises The Village Green Collection and The Square. This phase will allow us to deliver 50 new homes towards our target of more than 700 and comprise of a nice mix of two- and three-bedroom homes suitable for first-time buyers and larger four- and six-bedroom family homes, with prices starting from £267,995.

Heyford Park is not just about delivering new build homes however. One of the most important commitments made by Dorchester Living is the creation of a desirable lifestyle destination, focused on the existing community. So we are also working towards enhancing the facilities and amenities available, some of which are in place and others which are planned to coincide with future development phases.

The Heyford Park Free School opened in 2013 and is already extremely popular. Refurbishment of the old Officers’ Mess building was completed in May this year and is the new home of the school, while a brand new Specialisms Campus was also opened.

As part of the regeneration, the existing community centre and church will also be upgraded and relocated closer to the new Village Green. Other amenities will include a local shop, indoor gym, sports pitches, village pub and restaurant, which will combine to form a vibrant community.

We are also in the process of developing an app based community portal which will include a residents’ concierge service, allowing the community to access a range of services such as dry cleaning, gardening and handyman services at the click of a button.

What will Heyford Park look like once the redevelopment works are complete?

Heyford Park will be a contemporary take on the quintessential English village, featuring tree-lined streets, squares and the village green. The green will become a huge focal point for the community, with a cricket pitch, community centre, pub and restaurant set to be established there. 

In terms of the residential offering, we have taken care to ensure that the design of each phase of homes blends seamlessly with the next whilst avoiding any monotony, so each area of Heyford Park has a different layout and individual house designs are of different sizes and portray varied facades.   

Importantly, Heyford Park will be a thriving and vibrant community, just in an idyllic rural location.

How many homes will Heyford Park feature?

Heyford Park will feature over 700 homes in a range of sizes that are suitable for a mix of first-time buyers, families, downsizers and single residents.

What types of new homes will the scheme include?

Houses at Heyford Park range from two- to six-bedrooms while designs are varied. Some adopt a very classic approach to design, for example the Georgian-inspired townhouses, while other homes are more contemporary, such as the bungalows. These offer open-plan living on one level rather than on multiple stories. All homes include private outdoor space too.

Three show homes featuring brand new designs were unveiled at the launch weekend on 12/13 September.

How much does a new home at Heyford Park cost to buy?

The new phase of homes features a selection of two-, three-, four- and six-bedroom houses, starting from £267,995. We are also able to offer buyers the chance to purchase through a variety of supported schemes, such as Help to Buy, Part Exchange and Assisted Move.

Why should more property buyers consider buying in this part of Oxfordshire?

Heyford Park offers buyers a more desirable alternative to other parts of Oxfordshire. Set within 1,231 acres, Heyford Park is the contemporary equivalent of the quintessential English village, boasting an unrivalled mix of beautiful green countryside, a vibrant community, a host of amenities and spacious, thoughtfully designed homes suitable for modern families.

The area also provides excellent connectivity with the rest of the UK. Only 16 miles north of Oxford town centre and under four miles from the M40, there is also a regular train service between Bicester North and London Marylebone with journey times of around one hour, making Heyford Park a viable alternative for commuters, too.

What are housing market conditions currently like in and around the local area?

Oxford was recently ranked one of the most unaffordable places to live in the UK and as house prices continue to rise, many families and first-time buyers are being priced out of the city. Homes at Heyford Park start from over £170,000 less than the average property in Oxford so the area certainly offers an attractive proposition.

As a result, we have experienced strong demand for our properties from local Oxfordshire-based buyers, as well as those based in neighbouring counties. We now only have two houses remaining from Phase 2, our Field Views Collection.

We understand that Dorchester Regeneration will be delivering the strategic infrastructure and new town centre for Bordon, Hampshire, as part of a new joint venture with Taylor Wimpey. Could you please tell us more about the scheme?

The scheme is the largest ever considered for development by East Hampshire District Council and will see Whitehill & Bordon transformed with 2,400 new homes, jobs, essential infrastructure and a new town centre. We will be working closely with Taylor Wimpey and the local and district councils to create a better place to live, work and enjoy life.

Current plans are to regenerate the 200-acre site, which includes the Prince Philip Barracks, the Technical Training Area, Martinique House, Bordon and Oakhanger Sports Club and Hogmoor Inclosure, when the Bordon Garrison closes later this year. Initial building work on the new town centre could start as early as 2016.

As well as state-of-the-art leisure facilities including a six-lane swimming pool, the masterplan proposals also include a new cycling route, footpaths, public open space, car parks, children’s play areas, multi-use games areas, a BMX or skate park, allotments and landscaping. In addition, the southern section of a new relief road will be created to enable a more attractive alternative to the A325 for through traffic.

How many new homes will be delivered as part of the large-scale project?

2,400 new sustainable homes will be developed for private sale, affordable housing, social rent and shared ownership.

What other facilities will the new town feature?

The new high-quality town centre will feature shops, offices, cafes, restaurants, a food store and new leisure centre. New sports pitches and schools will be created while the existing primary school will be extended. We also anticipate the delivery of a brand new health centre and arts and cultural centre.

The conversion of the existing 54-acre Hogmoor Inclosure into a fantastic green space for the community will mean that Whitehill & Bordon will have the third largest Suitable Alternative Natural  (SANG) green space in the country.

What is Dorchester Regeneration’s USP?

Dorchester Regeneration is committed to delivering thoughtful, high-quality design and creating vibrant communities in which people wish to live. We are particularly passionate about transforming disused brownfield land to create desirable communities; providing much needed housing whilst at the same time minimising the impact on the UK’s precious greenbelt land.

Community forms the heart of all of our schemes, and it is a particularly important focus of large regeneration schemes such as Heyford Park and Whitehill & Bordon. To our knowledge we are the only developer in the UK which runs free schools at our schemes, and one of only a few authorised by the Homes & Communities Agency to provide its own affordable housing. Incorporating leisure and retail elements as well as residential is essential for us to create a sustainable environment that will help stimulate local economic growth and as a result, improve the quality of life of both current and future residents. 

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