New Homes Awards 2021: the best new homes of the year revealed, from city flats to family houses in commuter towns

·13-min read
Great Kneighton, Cambridge  (Paul Eccleston Arthouse Ltd 2014)
Great Kneighton, Cambridge (Paul Eccleston Arthouse Ltd 2014)

Britain’s best housebuilders attended a glittering ceremony at The Dorchester hotel in Park Lane on Friday to celebrate our coveted New Homes Awards.

The awards champion excellence across the housing spectrum, from first-time buyer flats to family houses; from factory lofts to dazzling architect-designed homes and mansions for millionaires.

Judged by readers as well as industry experts, this year’s winners have everything buyers want – inventive design, wow-factor interiors, eco-friendly features, glamour and great value.

Rising to the challenges triggered by the pandemic, our winning developers have set an impressive benchmark in a tough, competitive market. Congratulations to all.

GRAND PRIX WINNER AND BEST LARGE DEVELOPMENT

Great Kneighton, Cambridge

BY COUNTRYSIDE PROPERTIES

 (Paul Eccleston Arthouse Ltd 2014)
(Paul Eccleston Arthouse Ltd 2014)

This new “settlement” of 2,550 homes on the leafy fringe of Cambridge incorporates a 120-acre country park, community allotments, health centre, library, fitness studio, shops and cafés, as well as a market square, tree-lined avenues, green transport and pedestrian routes.

To ensure a genuinely mixed community, 40 per cent of the homes are affordable. Properties range from Scandi-style villas for families to shared ownership flats for first-time buyers. The scheme integrates with Trumpington, another new address that has primary and secondary schools and sports fields, and butts up against Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Prices from £339,000. Call 01277 260000.

BEST APARTMENT

The Penthouse at Luma, King’s Cross, N1C

BY ARGENT

 (Handout)
(Handout)

The awesome transformation by Argent of 67 blighted acres behind King’s Cross train station has been a masterclass in urban regeneration.

An entire new district with its own postcode – N1C – has been created, covering eight million square feet with 50 new streets, 10 landscaped squares, new shops and restaurants, revitalised canal banks, new office buildings and a campus for Central Saint Martins College, plus fresh cultural space.

About 2,000 homes form a relatively small part of the whole, making them highly coveted, whether spectacular flats built within the framework of listed gasholders, or sleek new apartment blocks, such as Luma.

Designed as a pair of stepped warehouse-style buildings facing on to a park, Luma’s delicate façade features bas-relief aluminium, concrete panels and decorative screen lattices that modulate light in and out of the building. Double-height flats allow for split-level living areas. Penthouses of up to 2,750sq ft come with generous balconies and rooftop gardens.

Our winning flat, one of 61, has a floating staircase of limestone steps and metallic flute ballustrading. Leading to the roof terrace, the staircase also separates kitchen and living space. Kitchens are conceived as floor-to-ceiling pieces of furniture; elegant polished plaster walls and dark-stained wall panelling exude style, while a series of concealed sliding doors allows certain areas to be screened off for privacy.

Price £4,175,000. Call 020 3479 1801.

BEST FIRST-TIME BUYER HOME (100+ homes)

The Bay, Faversham Lakes, Kent

BY ANDERSON

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Parts of Kent stand out as great value at a time when rail and road upgrades are slashing journey times. High-speed trains greatly reduce the commute from locations such as Ashford, Gravesend, Chatham, Rochester, Faversham and Folkestone. Faversham Lakes is a new neighbourhood of 330 affordable houses being built on a former wartime gunpowder factory site and gravel works. Two-bedroom semi-detached homes, with a garden and a country park nearby, allow first-time buyers to put down roots.

Prices from £295,000. Call 01795 515856.

BEST SHARED OWNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Ascot House, Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

BY CLARION HOUSING

New homes have been in short supply in unsung Staines. Even before the advent of the railway, Staines was a popular staging post between London and south coast ports. During the interwar period it became famous for linoleum production, and later for corporate offices because of proximity to Heathrow. It adjoins the Green Belt, has a conservation quarter as well as modern shopping precincts and boasts a riverside scenic trail all the way to historic Windsor.

Prices start at £76,713 for a 25 per cent share at Ascot House, a new town-centre tower with roof garden.

Call 0300 500 8000.

BEST SHARED OWNERSHIP HOME

The Printworks, Brewers Hill, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

BY CATALYST NEW HOMES

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Built on the site of a former printing factory, this scheme of two- and three-bedroom brick-façade houses, left, is keeping alive the home-buying dreams of people struggling to get on the property ladder. Centred around a community garden, prices start at £138,000 for a 40 per cent share (full prices start from £345,000).

Call 01582 787053.

BEST SMALL DEVELOPMENT (100+ homes)

Quinton Court, Sevenoaks, Kent

BY BERKELEY EASTERN COUNTIES

In 1880, London bookseller Joseph Salmon bought a stationer’s store in Sevenoaks, aiming to establish a printing business across Kent.

The company, Britain’s oldest postcard and calendar publisher, endured until 2017 when it finally succumbed to the digital revolution. Its vintage postcards are very collectable, and among the most coveted are the classic English watercolour scenes painted by AR Quinton, whose name denotes a smart development of 60 homes on the site of the old printworks. Quinton Court has been given a stamp of approval by local buyers and relocating Londoners searching for a Covid-era property that chimes with an outdoors lifestyle.

In the heart of the town centre, it takes its design cue from Edwardian mansion blocks: an elegant, red-brick façade, slate roof, lead dormers, bay windows and gables. Apartments have balconies overlooking a communal garden square.

Prices from £369,000. Call 01732 806933.

BEST SMALL DEVELOPMENT (

The Maltings, Biddenden, Kent

BY MILLWOOD DESIGNER HOMES

Grammar schools and commutability keep Kent in the good books of family home buyers.

The allure of the beautiful Kentish Weald is an additional attraction in the Covid-19 era. Tenterden, so-called “Jewel of the Weald”, is best-known for its award-winning Chapel Down winery and gin distillery plus a delightful private steam train service through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to moated Bodiam Castle.

The Maltings is a hamlet-style collection of 45 barn-style homes bordering farmland in the nearby wooded village of Biddenham. “The homes take their character from traditional barn forms and incorporate black weatherboarding and large glazed openings,” says Millwood’s architect Jon Neville.

Prices from £450,000. Call 01732 770991.

BEST RETIREMENT DEVELOPMENT

Orford Place, Ham Common, Richmond TW10

BY BEECHCROFT DEVELOPMENTS

A conversion of a listed mansion dating back to 1730 and fronting Ham Common, the house (latterly a convent) has been split into exquisite apartments, while 14 new houses have been built in the grounds which include a walled garden and sweeping lawns. All 23 homes are for the over-55s.

From £1.5 million. Call 01491 74300.

BEST FIRST-TIME BUYER HOME (

1 Varcoe Road, Southwark SE16

BY POCKET LIVING

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Pocket Living has carved out a niche selling small, space-efficient homes to middle-income Londoners who do not qualify for social housing and are priced out of the mainstream property market. Pocket’s homes typically cost 20 per cent below local market values. Buyers have to pass on this discount when they sell to ensure these homes remain affordable.

The developer also keeps the lid on prices by using cheaper factory production. And there is a design emphasis on shared communal spaces for chilling out and remote working. All these ingredients have come together at Varcoe Road, part of a fast-changing industrial zone near Millwall football stadium. The 57 flats are spread over seven storey. There is also a residents’ roof terrace with panoramic views as well as multipurpose rooms.

All of these homes have been sold.

BEST BOUTIQUE DEVELOPMENTS (joint winners)

Hambledon Place, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire

BY WESTBOURNE GROUP

This prestige project of six country houses are built on a steep hillside above the desirable village of Bourne End. The homes have views over rolling countryside and the Thames Valley beyond. Typically, the houses sit in one-acre plots and have 6,000sq ft of space. There’s also a detached garage with accommodation above.

From £2.9 million to £3.5 million. Call 01184 670950

Law Meadows, Pirbright, Surrey

BY HAWKSMOOR HOMES

A former equestrian centre has been sensitively transformed into a charming modern hamlet of nine country-style homes, including an oak-framed barn, a lavish brick-and-stone manor, an elegant Georgian three-bay house and characterful cottages. The small gated community borders the green belt and offers views across Surrey’s open fields and woodland.

All sold. For other Hawksmoor developments, call 01483 539377.

BEST REGENERATION PROJECT

Southmere, Thamesmead SE2

BY PEABODY

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Boosted by a new Crossrail station and a fresh, bold vision by housing association Peabody, Thamesmead is getting a second chance to become the desirable place to live that its original planners envisaged.

Created in the Sixties on 1,300 acres of marshland previously used as rifle ranges by old Woolwich Arsenal, the area was a Brave New World of stark, white modernist homes – a mix of high-rise blocks, elevated walkways, stacked maisonettes and low-rise terraces of family homes, all intended to ease London’s housing shortage.

But this dream set in concrete quickly unravelled, in part due to the absence of public transport. While two thirds of the original estate remain, Peabody is seeking to address past mistakes by building up to 20,000 new homes of every tenure over the next 30 years, plus lots of shops and new amenities including a library and community centre, crèche, cafés and gym, a new sailing club and gardens, and attractive public areas alongside the water.

Southmere, the first phase of 1,500 homes, takes design inspiration from 19th-century Peabody estates.

Clusters of handsome, mellow brick blocks are grouped around raised shared courtyards, creating smaller communities within the larger whole. And where once were towers, there will now be a sequence of streets and lakeside squares, one with a water clock tower as a focal point, and an arcade of shops.

Apartments have underfloor heating, Amtico flooring, higher-than-average ceilings and some boast superb terraces. There is a concierge service and wifi-enabled lounges for residents who want to chill out or work.

Prices start at £297,500 and the vast majority of homes cost less than the £600,000 Help to Buy limit.

As well as flats, shared equity houses are being built, while homes are also available on a shared ownership basis.

Call 020 8740 2060.

BEST LONDON HOME

Chartfield House, West Hill Place, Putney SW18

BY NOMAD DEVELOPMENTS

 (Handout)
(Handout)

This boutique project of four meticulously designed family houses in leafy south-west London typifies Nomad’s personalised approach to property development. Nomad MD Jack Simpson even bought one of the homes for himself and his family, adding a heated outdoor swimming pool and bar to the external kitchen and barbecue area that makes the houses great for entertaining. Behind the Victorian-style exterior, modern interiors include open-plan family rooms and marble en suite wet rooms. Prices ranged from £2.25 million to £2.3 million. Nomad’s latest development is Richmond Riverside – two 4,000sq ft homes with private Thames access and mooring. Due for completion next year.

From £4.75 million. Call 020 3488 7202.

HOME OR DEVELOPMENT OF OUTSTANDING ARCHITECTURAL MERIT

South Quay Plaza, Marsh Wall E14

BY BERKELEY HOMES

South Quay Plaza comprises 888 homes in two dockside skyscrapers designed by Foster + Partners.

Each tower has been built at a 45-degree rotation to maximise views and sunlight.

There’s a residents’ sky club and bar plus a spa including gym and pool, a screening room and outdoor dining terraces, while at ground level are two-and-a-half acres of waterfront gardens. When Covid-19 hit last year, Berkeley Homes merged a number of apartments in response to changing buyer preferences. Instead of sticking with regulation-size two-bedroom homes, the nimble-footed developer joined the floor plates of some units to create three-bedroom apartments with up to 1,678sq ft of space. All homes have floor-to-ceiling glazing.

Prices range from £720,000 to £2.16 million. Call 020 3432 3611.

BEST LUXURY HOME

The Penthouse at One Casson Square, Southbank Place SE1

BY SOUTHBANK ESTATES

 (Gareth Gardner)
(Gareth Gardner)

One Casson Square is a 36-storey tower, part of a 900-home revamp of the Shell Centre on the South Bank.

Named after Sir Hugh Casson, director of architecture for the 1951 Festival of Britain, this prestigious new address offers landmark views, customised interior design and amenities including a five-star health club and spa. Ringed by new lower-rise blocks, a city square, improved public spaces and pedestrian routes to Royal Festival Hall and Waterloo station, it’s a short stroll to the West End and City.

The 2,373sq ft three-bedroom penthouse has 360-degree views. A bold geometric interior boasts oak and marble flooring, white marble bathrooms and bespoke cabinetry.

£7.75 million. Call 020 7001 3600

BEST OUT OF LONDON HOME (100+ homes)

The Fuchsia, Radstone Gate, Kent

BY PENTLAND HOMES

Each of the 21 houses at this small rural development in the picturesque village of Stelling Minnis is an individual design, yet all are unified by the use of traditional Kentish materials such as mellow brick, clay roof tiles and timber cladding.

Launched prior to the pandemic, developer Pentland changed the floorplan of some houses to make way for a home office. Sitting in a big plot with garden, The Fuchsia is a delightful detached house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms, double garage and two parking spaces.

Radstone Gate, from £895,000. Call 01227 490279.

BEST FAMILY HOME (four categories)

Up to £750,000

The Fuji, The Pomeroy, New Cross SE14

BY PEABODY

 (Handout)
(Handout)

For many years, gritty New Cross flew under the radar, but people are waking up to its excellent transport connections: five-minute trains to London Bridge, a fast Thameslink service to Gatwick, Overground access and a one-stop connection to the Jubilee line at Canada Water.

The Pomeroy brings something fresh, a smart scheme of apartments, duplexes and houses for family living. Built around a communal garden, the development borders a park and local primary school. Some flats are triple aspect and all have outside space. The Fuji is a generous-size 1,400sq ft three-bedroom house with top-floor terrace and ground-level garden.

Only one of the 65 homes remains for sale. Price £600,000. Call 020 3369 0758.

£750,000-£1.5M (100+ homes)

Davenport Villas, Mosaics, Oxford

BY HILL

Developer Hill has a track record in building environment-friendly homes in green, attractive settings. Hill’s leafy new settlement on the fringe of Oxford is called Mosaics and is part of Barton Park, one of the Healthy New Towns, and brings a range of Scandi-style low-carbon new homes, biodiverse green space, ponds and pedestrian and cycle networks. Davenport Villas comprises six detached, five-bedroom waterside houses designed with relaxed family living in mind.

Prices from £1.35 million. Call 01865 950199.

£750,000-£1.5M (

The Beddington at Heartenoak Meadows, Hawkhurst, Kent

BY MILLWOOD DESIGNER HOMES

Red bricks, slate roof tiles, weatherboarding and ranch-style fencing have been used at this charming scheme of just 18 homes on big plots. The Beddington, at Heartenoak Meadows, is a five-bedroom detached house, traditional-looking outside but boasting a relaxed, free-flowing interior, across two levels. A huge open-plan family room opens to the garden, while above there’s even a “wellness retreat room” for yoga, massage and relaxation. There’s a detached double garage, too. This stunning house also scooped our Best Out Of London Home in the fewer than 100 homes category.

Prices from £835,000. Call 01732 770991.

Over £1.5M

Manor Barn, Canterbury, Kent

BY QUINN HOMES

This imaginative redevelopment of a stonemason’s workshop, in a rural spot four miles east of the cathedral city of Canterbury, is a trend-setter for multigenerational living. The courtyard complex of three buildings comprises a vast fivebedroom family house, a smaller dwelling with garage and self-contained flat above (for grandparents), and a separate pool house with gym and home office. It is built to low-energy “Passivhaus” standards.

This one-off project is valued at £4.5 million. Call 01227 831212.

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