Conran-designed homes sparking real interest

Bricks and Mortar – information by Tony Abel, of Abel Homes.


Last month, I wrote about how sustainability was becoming a ‘must have’ in new homes. My words were borne out in spectacular style just 10 days later.

At the beginning of September, we held an open weekend to show invited guests the site in Drayton where we are building 22 sustainable homes, designed by Conran & Partners. The response was incredible. I should explain that we haven’t actually built any houses yet. The first one – destined to be the show home – had its frame up by the open weekend, but that was it. It was very much an off-plan event.

Despite this, we were inundated with people interested in what we are doing in Drayton. Clearly these innovative new houses – which boast air source heat pumps, triple glazing and solar panels, amongst other ‘green’ features – have really caught the imagination. And not just the imagination of browsers, either; we actually agreed the sales of three homes during the weekend, all off-plan. This despite the fact that these are substantial family homes, which are not priced at the bargain end of the market.

The buyers told us that one of the factors alongside the environmental sustainability of the houses which attracted them. Conran & Partners have come up with something a bit different, daring to create homes which do not conform to the vernacular ‘new home style’. And it is this difference, alongside the sustainable factor, which has created the interest.

There is a lesson here. We are probably all guilty of playing

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it safe sometimes when it comes to house design. But there is no need to. If we can come up with designs that dare to be different, they will sell – provided that they fit in with the environment of the location, and offer real ‘liveability’ as well as aesthetic appeal.It seems that even in these challenging times, people are still looking for the individual, for the well-thought-out, and for the environmentally responsible. It’s good to be reminded that price is not always the deciding factor!

Launching such design-led, quality, environmentally-sustainable homes in the current economic climate was always going to be a bit of a gamble. But it seems that there is a huge demand for exactly this type of home. Perhaps that old saying, “do different” is relevant after all.

*Tony Abel is managing director of Abel Homes, which is building 22 sustainable new homes designed by Conran & Partners on a twenty acres woodland site in Drayton in September. For more details, visit

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