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Stuart Court Phase 2 opened by HRH The Princess Royal

Stuart Court | 20 June 2018 |

On a perfect sunny day, HRH the Princess Royal opened Stuart Court Phase 2 on 16th June 2018 at a garden party attended by the existing residents and the Cognatum management team. Phase 2 is the first of a new generation of 55+ homes based on new generous space standards and provision for a proper lift with the structure designed for this and making retro fitting very easy as and when required. The houses have generous windows flooding the interiors ...

… with light and are based on biophilic principles which promote mental and physical wellbeing.

Photo Caption: Cognatum/ Environ directors Glynne Benge and Richard Powell with HRH the Princess Royal.

Dartmouth Buzzes …
Even in the Winter Months

Sails | 30 November 2016 |

Dartmouth is a town that loves a good opportunity to celebrate. From its well-known food festivals and the grand Royal Regatta to the numerous arts and crafts markets and gallery open days, there are celebrations throughout the year for locals and tourists to enjoy. The Christmas period, of course, is no exception, and there is an exciting schedule of activities and events planned for the upcoming festive weeks. Whether you’re looking for buzzing Christmas markets, seasonal concerts ...

… or a chance to introduce younger family members to Father Christmas, Dartmouth is the perfect place to get everyone into a suitably festive mood.

A great way to spend the day in December is to visit the beautiful Greenway House, the holiday home of the much-loved author Agatha Christie. This place is charming at any time of year, but in the run up to Christmas the team at Greenway are bringing the Poirot story ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’ to life, with stockings to fill, mistletoe to hang and a Christmas tree to decorate.

At Pennywell Farm, children will be delighted to experience nativity plays with all the animals looking on, safe and dry in their winter homes. This is also the place to visit Father Christmas, who will be in residence here from the 1st December to the 24th.

Those who love getting out in the fresh air, even in colder months, can enjoy a beautiful coastal walk, starting at the historic Dartmouth Castle. Combine a castle visit with a trip on one of two local steam railways, bus or ferry and make it a special day out. With a range of wildlife to spot along the way, this is a perfect excuse for a family photo, especially when the stunning landscapes are covered in frost – or possibly even snow – a real winter wonderland!

Residents at Environ’s new apartments, SAILS, on Dartmouth Harbour, will be in a prime position to enjoy everything Dartmouth has to offer during the Christmas period. Residents will be only a short walk from the beautiful Dartmouth Castle, and can even take a ferry from the harbour to Greenway House.

The SAILS development is in the heart of the thriving seaside town, with views of the harbour, Coronation Park and Royal Naval College. With a modern design inspired by a traditional ocean-going clipper, the apartments provide stylish, spacious homes with great appeal for those relocating to Devon.

View the SAILS brochure here

For information on SAILS please contact:

01225 864429 | 01580 241213

Rail Upgrades Add To Appeal of West Country Property

Freshford Mill | 26 October 2016 |

Network Rail has confirmed that the next stage of electrification work will take place on the Great Western Railway early next year. These improvements to the railway line linking Bath and London Paddington will reduce journey times between the two cities, making Bath more accessible, and even increasing property values in the area. But how much will electrification reduce rail journey times? A spokesman for Great Western Railway says: "We are hoping to offer the fastest journey ...

… time possible” “We hope the service between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington will be 15 minutes quicker after electrification works.”

This means the journey from Bath to London should take slightly over an hour once the improvements are complete.

The electrification of the Great Western line and the therefore reduced journey times to London is increasing demand in the area surrounding Bath. With the London market cooling, many more buyers are looking to move out and capitalise on the price gap between London and the country.

There have always been a lot of people moving from London to Bath and the surrounding areas, but now, with improved transport links, that number is increasing.

Those looking to take advantage of the soon-to-be swift journey between London and Bath will be happy to hear of our Freshford Mill development outside Bath, which is currently in development.

Once completed, this will provide 21 new homes within easy reach of Bath, all on the site of a former mill in the picturesque village of Freshford. Here, residents can enjoy the countryside while also being well connected to Bath and to London.

Freshford is one of the most scenic villages around Bath and has its own train station and bus service. It is also within easy reach of the M4 motorway. Our development at Freshford Mill consists of the conversion of the original mill buildings together with new build homes. Homes range from 2 to 5 bed and are set in a stunning natural habitat which includes a lake and an island nature reserve.

If you would like to find out more, please email our Sales Manager Sarah Smith on  or call 07432 682874

A New Approach to Retirement Housing from Environ

Stuart Court | 4 October 2016 |

At Environ we have always been guided by our unique philosophy when it comes to home building. Now, in response to changes in the way the population is aging in the 21st century, we are turning our attention to retirement living, and designing luxurious and technically savvy homes for a growing demographic of ‘unretiring’ retirees. To do this, we’ve conducted some research into the nature of aging, and the key concerns and desires of an increasingly active retiring population...

This research has been fundamental in the development of our latest scheme: Stuart Court in Minchinhampton.

According to our research, the type of retirement homes currently available does not seem to tempt retirees from their larger, family homes, despite their desire to downsize. Retirees do not wish to leave a spacious, five bed house and downsize to a poky flat.

Because of people’s changing attitudes towards later life, Age UK states that ‘Even the term ‘retirement housing’ is problematic because it doesn’t necessarily fit with people’s self-perceptions’. Nowadays, many people of above retirement age continue to work and do not consider themselves truly ‘retired’ in the traditional sense.

Environ’s aim with our retirement housing is to create spacious, stylish homes for this new generation of active over 55s, where they can live in vibrant communities of like-minded retirees, avoiding any sense of institutionalism.

Residents at our new scheme Stuart Court in the Cotswolds will find that the stylish, spacious houses at the development are designed with this in mind.

This select development of just 5 cottages and two apartments forms an extension to an award-winning scheme in the heart Minchinhampton, one of the most idyllic Cotswold villages, 4 miles southeast of Stroud. The new spacious 2 bedroom properties are designed to suit the lifestyle and requirements of the new generation of 55+.

Residents will find en-suites are large and luxurious and that houses are designed for entertaining with plenty of kitchen space. Pocket doors provide flexible space – one minute a series of private spaces, and the next a large open plan area.

Environ’s aim in the creation of their new homes at Stuart Court is to provide a service for those who want a more relaxed way of life without sacrificing standards, and who wish to enjoy a relaxed, yet active retirement, in a stylish and comfortable home.

For more details see or call Sarah Smith, Environ on 07432 682874.


Freshford Mill | 29 September 2016 |

The properties at Freshford Mill, 6 miles south-east of Bath, all come with names that relate to the history of the mill in former times. Environ Communities are regenerating the derelict Mill buildings into family homes and apartments that offer the best of contemporary country living. The history of the mill can be traced back to possibly Roman times but certainly it is mentioned in The Doomesday Book. In the mid 1600’s it enjoyed thriving times when upwards of a thousand men, ...

… women and children were employed in the manufacture of woollen cloth, declining to only 92 employees in 1816.

Sadly, the long association with wool and wool products ceased in the 1930’s but in the Second World War the buildings were used to store aircraft parts.

After damage by bombs to their factory in Trowbridge, Peradin, a rubber manufacturer, moved to the mill and remained until 1995 when a refusal to rebuild and extend the factory induced the decision to move back to Trowbridge. There were 400 employees working through 24 hours in three shift patterns!

In 2014 Environ Communities purchased the derelict site and a complicated regeneration commenced. Plans were drawn up and the plots were allocated names representing processes or ingredients in wool cloth manufacture or historical characters associated with the mill.

Buy one of these amazing properties and imagine the history of past times. Properties range from 2 to 5 bedrooms, and start at £625,000 for a two bedroom apartment.

Which one would you choose?

  • FULLING MILL: Fulling is a process in woollen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth, particularly wool, to eliminate oils, dirt and other impurities, making it thicker.

The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker or walker all of which have become common surnames.

In the fulling mill, the cloth was beaten with wooden hammers, known as fulling hammers or stocks

  • CARDING MILL: Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for subsequent processing. This is achieved by passing the fibres between differentially moving surfaces covered with carding cloth.

The word is derived from the Latin carduus meaning thistle or teasel.

  • TEASEL COTTAGE: Dried teasels were first used to comb the raw wool, raising the knap of the cloth after fulling. The teasels were grown in a field towards Iford called Teazel Ground.
  • WILLIAMS HOUSE: It is assumed the sixteenth century house, in ruins today, was built by William Long who was a tenant of Freshford Mill. It was probably a two gabled, three storied Jacobean house. In the late 18th century the old farmhouse was absorbed into the new mill complex and a tall chimney to service a steam engine was placed against the side of one gabled wing of the front elevation. At some time between 1884 and 1904 the major part of Williams House was demolished.
  • RACKHAM HOUSE: At one stage in the processing of woollen cloth, it was stretched on great frames known as tenters, to which it was attached by tenterhooks. The colourful cloths were dried on the tenterhooks in Rackham Close being the area of the mill to the east by the entrance
  • ASHE BARN: John Ashe was from a wealthy Somerset clothier family and arguably the most important and influential figure to be associated with Freshford Mill in its long history. He was a puritan sympathiser and for his efforts he was hauled before the Star Chamber but was released without punishment as he argued that thousands depended on him for their livlihoods. It is estimated that Ashe was employing up to a thousand people by 1637. In 1640 he became a Member of Parliament and became one of the leaders of the Parliamentary party in Somerset. John Ashe fled to London a year after the Civil War broke out, leaving his wife to manage the Mill.
  • GIBBS COTTAGES: The Gibbs family rented Freshford Mill for several years in the 17th
  • PERKINS COURT: In 1795 Freshford Mill was sold to Samuel Perkins who was a member of the remarkable and extended Perkins Family, wealthy investors and entrepreneurs. He undertook substantial rebuilding at the mill and in the new multi-storied buildings, machinery was installed for the preparation, spinning and dying of wool. Perkins did not retain the mill for long and it was advertised for sale in 1807
  • LETECOMBE LODGE: At the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century Freshford Mill was known as Letecombe Mill and later as Ladcombe.
  • DYE HOUSE: In Mediaevil times dye would have derived from plants or minerals available locally, particularly madder and woad which were grown in plantations. Many natural dyes required an additive to “fix” the dye – vinegar, tannin from oak bark, sumac or oak galls, ammonia and wood-ash liquor were commonly used. Many of the dyes or additives gave off strong and unpleasant odours, and the actual process of dyeing required a good supply of fresh water, storage for bulky plant materials, vats which could be kept heated along with the necessary fuel, and airy spaces to dry the dyed textile such as Rackham Close
  • MILLMANS COTTAGE: This name reminds us that in the 18th Century one of the mills was a flour mill and that a farm existed on the mill site until the end of the 1700’s

The Draw
of Devon

Sails | 19 July 2016 |

New statistics show that more people are moving to the South West and Devon than anywhere else in the UK.  Is it in anticipation of the county’s first IKEA store, or is there more to it than that? Recent statistics show that in the past five years the number of people leaving London annually has almost doubled to about 80,000, and together with high numbers moving from other parts of the UK has seen the South West region experience the highest inflow of people from across Britain ...

… with the county of Devon proving particularly popular.

The natural beauty of the region, the low crime rate, good schools and quality of life have always been reasons to live there, but what has changed recently to persuade these increasing numbers of people to head for the South West coast?

Louisa Hooper, Head of New Homes at Exeter estate agent Jackson-Stops & Staff has given her opinion:

“Buyers have traditionally been in pre-retirement or actually retired, but this is changing. We are seeing more families move to the region and this has been caused partly due to the availability of high speed broadband (since the end of 2012). It is always one of the first things buyers ask nowadays and now we have a super-fast service it has attracted many that work from home.

“Another reason families are attracted to the area is the schools – the state primary and secondary schools are very good. 85% of our schools are rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by Ofsted compared to 78% nationally.

The opening of the South Devon Link Road, bypassing Kingskerswell earlier this year has had a positive effect on travel times to and within the region, and has made the area even more desirable. It has been especially beneficial for local and national commuters.”

There are further major regeneration schemes and investment taking place in the area which are likely to draw further people to the area. By 2017 a new phase of government funding will extend the high speed broadband to tens of thousands more homes and businesses across Devon in predominantly rural areas. And IKEA has announced its first store in the county, to be opened at Christmas 2016. It is expected to deliver a multimillion-pound boost to the Exeter economy, creating 380 new jobs and attracting shoppers from across the South West.

An example of a contemporary new build development in Dartmouth, launching this November is our development SAILS, which sits right on the waterfront. The dramatic looking SAILS development is in the heart of the thriving seaside town, with stunning views of the harbour, Coronation Park and Royal Naval College. With a contemporary design inspired by a traditional ocean-going clipper, the apartments will provide stylish, spacious homes with great appeal for those relocating to Devon.

View the SAILS brochure here

For information on SAILS please contact:

Tel: 07432 682 874

01580 241213

Well-Designed Outdoor Spaces are Good for Health

Freshford Mill | 6 June 2016 |

A recent report from RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) has confirmed what we at Environ have long believed: well-designed outdoor spaces not only increase the happiness of residents, but also the value of their homes. The RICS study talks about the importance of ‘placemaking’ in architecture and planning. The term placemaking refers to factors which help create a good living space, such as a concept of neighbourhood, along with features like street layout ...

… tree planting and communal spaces. Developments with good placemaking feel organic and individual, and take the local community and location into consideration, rather than being generic in design.

Environ Communities always try to find space for a community garden, as research has proved that a connection to nature can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of wellbeing and belonging. We have been incorporating community spaces within our developments since the 1990s and have witnessed our residents gaining much pleasure, pride and enjoyment from such gardens, helping to develop a community spirit and identity.

The RICS study examined a number housing schemes in England that have created entirely new places with their own, unique sense of identity. One of these was Kings Hill in Kent, home to our development Oaks Hamlet – a selection of family homes, all of which are now sold. The research found that strong placemaking can lead to substantial house price premiums, anything between 20 – 50% over the normal price for new builds!

We’re now using some of the same placemaking principles that made our development on Kings Hill a success at a new scheme in Somerset. Environ is transforming the historical Freshford Mill, into a development of 21 homes, which will include plenty of well-designed outside space.

Not only are there allotments for veggie growing, but also there are wildflower meadows, a butterfly garden, a nature reserve, riverside walks, and a lake with paths and seating areas. Our properties at Freshford range from 2 bedroom apartments through to large 5 bedroom family houses offering homes to all ages, from young families through to the more elderly retired, just as would be found in any existing village.

Even sitting watching plants move in the breeze or birds fly helps to reduce stress, and such areas create a relaxed ambience in which to meet neighbours on new residential developments, regardless of age and background. Hopefully neighbours at Freshford Mill will picnic or hold a communal BBQ – a great way to make new friends!
If you have any queries please contact Sarah Smith, Environ Sales Manager: 01732 848316 or

A development with a strong design ethos

Freshford Mill | 23 March 2016 |

Environ Communities are proud and excited to be given the opportunity to breath new life into one of Baths most vibrant and popular villages. Tony Dowse, Chairman of Environ Communities, has great vision as to how the area can be developed to reflect the local vernacular, complementing the beautiful village of Freshford; at the same time he is keen to offer the best of country living that discerning purchasers demand today.

In his long standing career Tony has created many award winning developments and has developed a unique and distinctive style with extensive  attention to detail; designing residential schemes that complement the local environment. He firmly believes that it is the relationship between space and light that shapes our experience of a building and ultimately turns a house into a home.

Ample natural lighting, ventilation from fresh air, views over landscaped grounds or water and easy access to outdoor space are all hallmarks of an Environ property. The need to be connected to nature and the benefits this brings are certainly not new concepts however these principles have been influential in the design process at Freshford Mill.

New windows, rooflights, glazed bifold or sliding doors have been installed in the houses to increase light levels which have been linked to improve mood, enhanced morale, lower fatigue and reduce eye strain. This is particularly important as our society now spends approximately ninety percent of its time indoors, which can lead to adverse impacts on health associated with lack of contact with natural surroundings.

Letecombe Lodge is the Show Home which will be available to view in late Spring has been designed with all these credentials in mind.  With floor to ceiling glazed doors in the kitchen, study, sitting and dining room and a light well over the staircase that floods the very centre of the house with natural light, the feeling of space is apparent as soon as you walk through the door. The master suite has exceptional views across the beautifully landscaped lake across to the natural landscape of the fields beyond; this view can be enjoyed on a rainy day indoors in addition to on a sunny day from the balcony which is accessed through the room’s bi-fold doors.

It is not just the show home that has been designed with the outside countryside in mind, all properties, including apartments have access to either a private fully landscaped garden or a balcony with views over the adjoining countryside such as in the Carding Mill which overlooks the island nature reserve. This reinforces the connection to the environment.

In addition Freshford Mill has communal landscaped grounds for residents to enjoy and benefit from. There is a new lake with decked walkways constructed amongst rustling reeds leading to viewing platforms with seating for a relaxing Spring day.  A butterfly garden full of colourful, nectar rich plants to encourage both butterflies and moths and a nature reserve to encourage the scheme to blend into the natural environment have also been included. Even allotments are available for residents to partake in the “good life”.

Part of the Environ design ethos is to source natural materials such as local larch to be used for the cladding on a number of the houses, car barns, pergolas and decking. Stone walls are being built to enclose private spaces. Oak floors inside the houses are selected from the Kahrs Artisan Range with stone work tops in the kitchens.

With all these design elements beginning to take shape at Freshford Mill we look forward to being in a position to invite you to see the show home later this Spring. In the meantime we would be happy to discuss your individual property needs and offer further information on the properties available on this uniquely created development.

How to encourage wildlife in your garden this spring

Environ, Freshford Mill | 17 March 2016 |

Spring is just around the corner, and as we’ll soon be spending more time outdoors, we thought we’d have a look at how to make sure your garden is providing the right environment for wildlife. At Environ’s latest project, Freshford Mill near Bath, Julie and the team are transforming a derelict mill into 21 new homes. Based in a conservation area teeming with wildlife Julie is putting her top tips into practice and is designing the site as a haven for local wildlife:

– Select a wide range of native trees and shrubs, plus a mixture of flowering plants and vegetables to provide food for animals throughout the season. Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects that are essential for fertilisation.

– Create a compost heap to provide shelter for reptiles and hedgehogs. A pile of rotting wood is good for stag and bark beetles and woodlice.

– Encourage birds with fresh water and food. Nuts, sunflower seeds, kitchen scraps fat balls, or pet shop seed mixtures are all good. Just make sure feeding tables are not accessible to cats and squirrels!

– To encourage butterflies, plant groups of the same flowers together so they are easy to find. Leave areas of longer grass, nettles and brambles, which create a supply of food and egg-laying environments, plus shelter for small mammals such as hedgehogs, wood mice, voles and shrews.

– Don’t kill off all the caterpillars and other insects in your garden! Instead install insect “hotels” which offer a variety of environments. They can be built with old wood, loose bark, and hollow stems such as old bamboo canes.

– Don’t light your garden. Lights will deter bats which require dark corridors to navigate at night. If you do, use only LEDs in a warm white or terracotta that shine downwards with a narrow beam and set on a sensor.

– Install a pond with a shallow sloping edge to enable easy access to both water and land for reptiles such as newts. A slightly boggy area around part of the edge of the pond is great for toads and frogs. A pond may also attract waterfowl. Birds such as swallows and house martins will pick off insects from above the water surface and use muddy areas for nest building.

Homes for Fishing Enthusiasts

Freshford Mill | 19 February 2016 |

At Freshford Mill we are building homes that encourage a connection to the beautiful surrounding nature. The site is situated in the peaceful and beautiful Cotswolds countryside on the River Frome, six miles south east of Bath. One of the many ways residents will be able to connect with nature here is by fishing. All residents at the development will have fishing rights, and the riverbank at Freshford Mill is the perfect place for keen resident anglers to drop their lines, with ...

… its abundant stocks of barbel, chubb, pike, roach, dace and perch!

Fishing has always been a popular sport in the UK, with millions of people participating in the sport each year. Ask any keen angler why they enjoy fishing and they are likely to point out that it’s a great stress reliever. Spending a few hours outdoors beside a river or lake can provide the perfect distraction from busy, modern lives. Those fishing at Freshford will be treated to particularly wonderful views extending up the Limpley Stoke Valley and the upper reaches of Freshford village and the rolling Cotswolds countryside beyond.

Fishing is also a very sociable activity, and a great way to connect with friends and family away from the distractions of modern technology. Many of the homes at Freshford Mill are family homes, and angling is a popular bonding activity for families as it provides physical activity for people of all abilities, including children and elderly grandparents.

The Freshford Mill development has its own island nature reserve which is another ideal spot for fishing. Residents have access to the island which is a great place to sit and enjoy the tranquil surroundings and for younger residents to learn more about nature.

Some of the homes at the development are situated right beside the river, making it possible to fish from the comfort of your own home. The residents at Ashe Barne, one of the larger family homes, will be able to fish from the comfort of their own deck overhanging the river. Similarly, residents at The Fulling Mill, which is being converted into four duplex apartments (prices from £522,000), all have private decking areas overlooking the river and island, from which residents can fish in the River Frome.

If you can picture yourself spending a relaxing afternoon fishing with family and friends on our island nature reserve, or even fancy dropping a line from your own private deck, then give our sales team a call to find out more about our beautiful homes.

For more information on Freshford Mill, get in touch with our sales manager, Sarah Smith. | 01732 848316

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