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Property searches double for the Cotswolds in lockdown

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The already in-demand Cotswolds have reached new heights of desirability amid the coronavirus pandemic, new research has suggested.

The area’s pretty rural villages have long been a favourite among the rich and famous, with homes in the area owned by Kate Moss, Jeremy Clarkson, David Cameron, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and the Beckhams, to name but a few.

And the desire to stay at home in somewhere more picturesque means the area’s rolling hills and open spaces are even more sought-after, with online searches for properties in the Cotswolds doubling in the second half of last year.

The number of sales agreed in the Cotswolds (pictured) rose 100 per cent in September

The number of sales agreed in the Cotswolds (pictured) rose 100 per cent in September

Online searches on Rightmove for the Cotswolds rose 102 per cent in the last six months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The property website said the increase in searches came as people looked to relocate for a quieter life in the countryside.

Rightmove explained its focus on the Cotswolds, saying that it saw a big shift in the number of people who were looking to move to the countryside last year, and as one of the country’s most iconic rural regions, it wanted to examine whether the Cotswolds in particular had seen a surge in interest. 

The Cotswolds covers 787 square miles, stretching from just south of Stratford-upon-Avon to just south of Bath near Radstock. It lies across the boundaries of several English counties, including mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also in parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

The number of sales being agreed by agents in the Cotswolds outperformed the South West as a whole, peaking in September, Rightmove said.

There was a 100 per cent annual rise in the number of sales that were agreed by agents in the Cotswolds in September. 

This two-bedroom cottage in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, is for sale for £555,000

This two-bedroom cottage in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, is for sale for £555,000

The cottage in Chipping Campden has a garden and is for sale via estate agents Knight Frank

The cottage in Chipping Campden has a garden and is for sale via estate agents Knight Frank

Rightmove found that Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire is where house prices increased the most in the Cotswolds in 2020.

Average asking prices in the leafy market town were up 14.8 per cent on 2019, an annual increase of £38,290.

The place with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches in the Cotswolds was celebrity hub Chipping Norton, up by 109.5 per cent, followed by Burford – up 82.3 per cent – and Chipping Campden, up 68.5 per cent.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: ‘The headline market trend to emerge from 2020 was a huge jump in demand for rural areas and countryside living, and the Cotswolds ticks pretty much every box for home-movers seeking an escape to the country.

‘As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, brimming with endless walking trails and tight-knit village communities, the Cotswolds represent much of what we hold dear about the great British outdoors.

‘It’s easy to see why the area is a magnet for people looking for a quieter life, and with remote working seemingly here to stay for many, I expect the popularity of the Cotswolds will continue to grow this year.’

This six-bedroom house near Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, is for sale for £1,495,000

This six-bedroom house near Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, is for sale for £1,495,000

Equestrian facilities: The six-bedroom house (as above) also boasts land and several stables

Equestrian facilities: The six-bedroom house (as above) also boasts land and several stables

Rupert Sweeting, of estate agents Knight Frank, described Cotswolds property viewing and buying as ‘completely frantic’ since the housing market re-opened in May.

He said: ‘In addition to the traditional reasons that have always attracted buyers to the Cotswolds, including the beautiful scenery, good schooling, and well-established transport links, the pandemic has drawn attention to how the Cotswolds can also offer a dreamy countryside lifestyle, strong broadband networks, and space and gardens without compromising convenient facilities.

‘After experiencing being cooped up during the multiple lockdowns with a small or no garden, city dwellers quickly realized the benefits of moving to the countryside.

‘The abundance of well-equipped towns and villages in the Cotswolds means that these urban buyers are able to achieve their dream countryside retreat without having to completely isolate themselves. ‘

He added that having the likes of Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford Farmshop around, while being about an hour and a half from the centre of London is an attraction for many buyers.’

‘The idealisation of the country perfectly reflects how the pandemic has seen people revaluate their day-to-day lives and consequently propelled the Cotswolds’ property market into a frenzy,’ he said.

This two-bedroom house in Wotton-Under-Edge is for sale for £500,000 via estate agents Fine & Country

This two-bedroom house in Wotton-Under-Edge is for sale for £500,000 via estate agents Fine & Country

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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