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Kevin McCloud builds his very OWN Grand Design: TV star, 64, transforms 400-year-old farmhouse

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into his own dream home, MailOnline can reveal.

McCloud, 65, bought the rural hideaway – which came with planning permission to convert a cow shed into another new home – for £1.1 million in June 2021.

Planning documents highlight how McCloud set out to restore the ‘lost dignity and historic character’ of the 400-year old Grade II listed property in Herefordshire.

His bold intentions for the timber-framed property may come as a surprise to some after McCloud admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen.

He told how he put in the ‘carcass and doors’ and did some ‘basic carpentry and screwing together’ before adding that he brought in ‘proper craftspeople’ to customise it and bought a ‘very, very beautiful, expensive hot water tap’.

The 65-year-old has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into a rural hideaway

The 65-year-old has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into a rural hideaway

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property after splitting with his wife of 23 years and tying the knot with businesswoman Jenny Jones.

A previous owner of the farmhouse, which dates from around 1600, was prosecuted for undertaking a major series of ‘disrespectful’ alterations without planning permission.

Planners said the unauthorised works led to ‘irreparable loss of historic fabric which has compromised its character as a building of special historic and architectural interest’.

Despite this, estate agents were keen to highlight the positive selling points of the property when it went on the market in 2021.

The 4,858 square foot farmhouse was advertised through Country Life magazine after a local estate agent who specialises in the sales of country houses and equestrian property was instructed to sell it.

Described as a ‘secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location’ with ‘land available separately’, a series of glossy photographs showed off its ‘charming and generously proportioned’ layout.

Highlights included the farmhouse’s two ‘very generously sized reception rooms’ with the main sitting room opening from the ‘kitchen/breakfast room’ and featuring ‘a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner’ and ‘a snug nook’.

A second reception room also featured a fireplace with wood burner and offered ‘a versatile space’.

An online brochure added: ‘A superb, spacious open-plan kitchen/breakfast room forms the heart of this house; the country-style oak fitted kitchen offers plenty of storage and also benefits from a large central island with granite work surface.’

The kitchen included an electric range cooker and the ground floor featured further rooms including study, utility room and boot room as well as two WC. 

A look at the Grade II listed property before it received a makeover from the television presenter

A look at the Grade II listed property before it received a makeover from the television presenter

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property, pictured, after splitting with his wife of 23 years

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property, pictured, after splitting with his wife of 23 years

The presenter admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen. Pictured: The kitchen before it was renovated

The presenter admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen. Pictured: The kitchen before it was renovated

A series of images show off the 'charming and generously proportioned' layout of the farmhouse

A series of images show off the ‘charming and generously proportioned’ layout of the farmhouse 

Highlights include 'very generously sized reception rooms' with the main sitting room featuring 'a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner', pictured

Highlights include ‘very generously sized reception rooms’ with the main sitting room featuring ‘a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner’, pictured

The first floor features a galleried landing with three double bedrooms and a single bedroom, three with ensuite bathrooms as well as a separate family bathroom.

The attic has a further two large double bedrooms and a family bathroom with separate wet room.

Cambridge-educated McCloud has followed the trials and tribulations of families as they attempt to create their perfect home as host of the popular Channel 4 programme for the past 25 years.

Last week he insisted he would never throw open his doors to TV viewers adding: ‘It’s like walking around with your trousers down’.

But in a teasing insight into his own personal project, McCloud told how he had been inspired to copy a restoration featured in an episode of Grand Designs.

He said he was ‘absolutely blown away’ by the transformation of the ruins of Astley Castle in Warwickshire after it was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s.

McCloud was particularly impressed with the inclusion of a contemporary ‘hanging’ oak staircase among its updated features.

Council documents show that within weeks of buying the farmhouse, McCloud submitted detailed plans to make some major changes to the interior in a bid to restore it to its former glory.

McCloud’s project includes new staircases on the ground and first floor to help create an area that ‘should respond well to a sympathetic contemporary solution’ to the previous botched works.

The documents show plans for the kitchen to be moved ‘to the north wing’ while permission was sought to turn one of the first floor’s double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with ‘his and hers’ sinks and a freestanding bath in the centre of the room. 

The first floor features three double bedrooms and a single bedroom. The attic, pictured, has a further two large double bedrooms

The first floor features three double bedrooms and a single bedroom. The attic, pictured, has a further two large double bedrooms

It has been described as a 'secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location'

It has been described as a ‘secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location’

A look at the staircase and hallway in the 4,858 square foot farmhouse

A look at the staircase and hallway in the 4,858 square foot farmhouse

The presenter sought permission to turn one of the first floor's double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with 'his and hers' sinks. Pictured: A bathroom before it was redesigned

The presenter sought permission to turn one of the first floor’s double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with ‘his and hers’ sinks. Pictured: A bathroom before it was redesigned

Other proposals include removing ‘false ceilings’ to expose historic beams along with the removal of ‘modern cement and plaster’ to ‘reverse the damage caused by the use of modern previous materials’.

The plans show the removal of partition walls and ‘blocking doorways’ to reconfigure layouts as well as ‘a more sympathetic solution to the altered main fireplaces’.

Outside, the proposals included replacing modern brickwork with a timber-framed wall using traditional materials, landscaping gardens and the removal of the property’s oil tank and its replacement with a heat pump to ‘make an important contribution to the building’s sustainability’.

Architectural historian and historic building consultant Dr Catherine Gordon said the proposals represented ‘an important opportunity’ to regain some of the property’s ‘former integrity following a phase of inappropriate alterations’.

In a heritage statement written to support the application, which was approved by Herefordshire Council in March 2022, she wrote of the staircase feature: ‘The proposed works will address the issues raised by the awkward insertion of the modern staircase, which does not occupy the full width of the stairwell and has altered the layout of the first-floor landing.

‘A sympathetic solution that relates to the historic fabric and layout will dramatically improve this key central area within the house and the extent of recent alterations provides scope for an interesting contemporary design that underlines the house’s dramatic proportions and robust character.’

She said the plans ‘should serve to protect the building’s surviving historic fabric, restore part of its original layout, improve its sustainability, and ensure it is adapted with an informed and careful approach to meet modern requirements’.

Dr Gordon added: ‘They will set an important and valuable precedent for future alterations and repairs to this building that will continue to restore some of its lost dignity and historic character and increase both its individual significance and also that of its exceptional setting.’ 

Kevin McCloud, pictured inside the 'Grand House of Ideas' as part of Grand Designs Live in May

Kevin McCloud, pictured inside the ‘Grand House of Ideas’ as part of Grand Designs Live in May

The 64-year-old pictured in the kitchen of his former home in Somerset in April 2004

The 64-year-old pictured in the kitchen of his former home in Somerset in April 2004

Host Kevin McCloud said in an episode in May 2023 that he has never spent more than £7,000 on a new kitchen. Here he is pictured speaking to a homeowner on the show

Host Kevin McCloud said in an episode in May 2023 that he has never spent more than £7,000 on a new kitchen. Here he is pictured speaking to a homeowner on the show

McCloud told how being without a kitchen for a year gave him an appreciation of the rollercoaster of emotions faced by participants of the home building show.

He said: ‘It’s hard to express and to understand, there was a very deep sense of threat.

‘It came from the fact that we didn’t have a kitchen, we didn’t have a heart to the home.

‘It was as though something had been taken away from the building that made it feel more dangerous to be there. I can’t describe it in any other way, and I talk to people about this – it’s a very common feeling.’

McCloud has spoken of his love for ‘ancient buildings’ and has said of his new home: ‘It’s a bit of a new build, a bit of an old build, a bit of a garden build and a bit of a barn conversion.

‘Ancient buildings are fabulous, but like elderly relatives, they do not thank you. And they’re smelly and damp like elderly relatives. It’s like living with a lunatic.’

He also said: ‘My great love is old buildings and I get hot under the collar if I see people doing stuff which is not good. I’ll wade in.’

McCloud had previously shared a 500-year-old farmhouse with second wife Suzanna near Bruton in Somerset.

The couple, who have two children, sold their previous Grade II-listed home in 2010 to Fifty Shades Of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson for £1.85million.

McCloud, who also has two other children from previous relationships, told how he lived in a camper van for three years so he could carry on working during the pandemic.

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Would YOU live here? Seaside cottage with stunning coastal views is branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in listing – but is on the market for just £75,000

  • Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness has been put on the market 
  • The four-bedroom home has remarkable views of the Moray Firth 

A seaside cottage with stunning coastal views has been branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in its listing – but has still gone on the market for just £75,000.

Potential buyers of Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, may get some remarkable views of the Moray Firth, but also face a massive renovation job to make the building fit to live in.

Photos show the interior of the four-bedroom home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings.

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believes it ‘offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home’.

The house, which includes a garage, has been ‘extensively extended’ to create a total floor area of over 350 sqm – which could be converted into a family home or a rental opportunity.

Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, comes with a remarkable view of the Moray Firth - but potential buyers face a massive renovation job

Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, comes with a remarkable view of the Moray Firth – but potential buyers face a massive renovation job

Photos show the interior of the home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings

Photos show the interior of the home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings

The seaside cottage has been branded 'uninhabitable' and 'unsafe' in its listing

The seaside cottage has been branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in its listing

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believe the house 'offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home'

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believe the house ‘offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home’

‘The property further offers garden areas to front and rear, with the upper floor balconies enjoying great views over the Moray Firth,’ reads the listing.

‘The property is currently unhabitable, hence no Home Report is available, but a full programme of works would add massive value and offers the opportunity to adapt the current accommodation format subject, of course, to any required permissions/warrants.

‘The potential and value on offer is sure to attract strong levels of demand and, as such, early viewing is essential to avoid missing out.’ 

The original stone built dwelling has been extensively extended with the addition of north and south wings to create a total floor are in excess of 350 sq.

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a ‘stunning family home’ or to be rented out to holidaymakers. 

They also claim that a full programme of works would add ‘massive value’ to the building. 

The stunning view of the Moray Firth seen from the property

The stunning view of the Moray Firth seen from the property 

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a 'stunning family home' or to be rented out to holidaymakers

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a ‘stunning family home’ or to be rented out to holidaymakers

They also claim that a full programme of works would add 'massive value' to the building

They also claim that a full programme of works would add ‘massive value’ to the building

Once renovations are completed, the property will have a council tax band of C.

Mandi Cooper, Managing Director of Auction House Scotland, said: ‘Woodbine Cottage is certainly a project suited to a keen developer or investor, and it deserves to be lovingly renovated back to its former glory.

‘With huge opportunity to add value, and holiday lets in the Highlands being an ever-popular way to generate income, this would also be ideal for serviced accommodation providers.’

Woodbine Cottage will go to auction on May 30 with Auction House Scotland, with a viewing date of May 22

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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