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Developers cashing in on growing demand for roof gardens

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Lockdowns aren’t easy for anyone, but for those one in eight UK households who have no access to a shared or private garden, they’ve been near impossible.

The good news is that a growing number of developers have found a solution to the problem: roof gardens.

‘I think it should be made a planning condition that roofs are utilised as a green space,’ says the award-winning garden designer Manoj Malde, (manojmaldegardendesign.co.uk).

High life: Roof gardens have become ever more popular during the pandemic

High life: Roof gardens have become ever more popular during the pandemic

‘Roof gardens can be incredibly beautiful; the air seems fresher up there, transporting you to another world.’

Pocket Living, a developer specialising in selling affordable one-bedroom homes to first-time buyers, believes that access to a garden benefits its residents’ mental health. Although its apartments measure only 38 sq metres inside their sites, all offer some shared outside space.

‘My roof garden definitely helped me get through the lockdown,’ says IT sales executive Lucy Wright, 30, who has lived in Pocket Living’s Wandsworth development for two years.

‘Like millions of others, I have been working from home for most of the year and after a day in front of my computer screen it was great to get out on the roof and meet others over a glass of wine at a social distance.’

Pocket Living is selling off-plan in Harbard Close, Barking (prices from £194,000 to £210,000) and Addiscombe Grove, Croydon (from £260,000 to £296,000, pocketliving.com).

It’s not only in overcrowded London that you find new roof gardens being built. In the heart of Maidenhead in Berkshire, the Waterside Quarter, due to be finished this month, is a development of one to three-bedroom apartments with a roof garden of astro turf and planters. Prices start at £315,000 (shanlyhomes.com).

On the market… with terraces 

In King Street, central Manchester, boards have been laid on the roof garden for the conversion of four townhouses from £574,000 (oxygenmanchester.com).

Cutting-edge though the best of today’s roof gardens may be, they became particularly fashionable in the early 20th century. ‘Selfridges were early pioneers, with a roof-top garden built in 1921,’ says Sean McEntee, an expert with Savills planning. ‘Kensington Roof Gardens, built in 1938, are grade II-listed.’

Today, roof gardens can vary in quality from a few plant pots and a deck chair above a shop in a run-down part of town to extravagant oases overlooking the kind of streets where only the mega-rich can afford to live.

A six-bedroom property in the heart of Kensington is for sale for £24 million (knightfrank.com). Apart from offering leisure facilities indoors — cinema, bar, swimming pool and gym — the landscaped astro turf roof garden has seating set around an ornate fireplace, surrounded by hedging. But what is the attraction of a roof garden to the ultra wealthy?

‘They provide greater privacy and security,’ says Fran Moynihan of Savills (savills.com). ‘Even in a densely populated area they are unlikely to be overlooked.’

Although roof gardens undoubtedly add value to a property, they need a good deal of planning. Manoj Malde advises to check that the construction of the roof is strong enough for load bearing.

D rainage is an issue, as you don’t want the roof leaking into the rooms below. If your neighbours also have a roof garden, then you may want screening for privacy. Safety is paramount, so make sure there is a barrier to stop people, plant pots or garden furniture from falling over the edge. The choice of plants, too, is a complex subject.

‘If it is cold at ground level, it’s going to be freezing on the roof,’ says Malde. ‘If it is hot on the ground, it’s going to be scorching on the roof. These conditions cause evaporation in plants, so you must choose the right plants. Consider coastal and Mediterranean plants, as these are able to survive drying conditions.’

Maggie Hall had to address all these problems when she built a bijou roof garden, above her four-storey townhouse in the fashionable Spice Island district of Old Portsmouth, 20 years ago. Being within yards of the waterfront, the roof garden catches the full force of the weather from the English Channel.

‘We decked it, put up railings and laid out pots and hanging baskets that we could take in quickly if the weather turned nasty,’ says Maggie, 56, who is selling the house for £780,000 (fryandkent.com). ‘The views over the Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth Harbour are fantastic.’

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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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