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New year, new build?

Coveting space, a sprinkle of character and historic countryside setting for your next move? City & Country – the UK's leading heritage developer – has the answer...

New build homes Essex

Confession time: I’ve always been a bit obsessed with period homes. As a young magazine journalist, I wafted about a rented Georgian flat in a leafy corner of Crouch End; migrated to an Edwardian three-bed in Ealing; then snapped up a Victorian semi (complete with all original fireplaces and parquet flooring) in the rural outskirts of Essex in classic DFL style.

But this is the thing: dream homes are often pictured as quaint cottages with roses around the door, characterful rooms packed full of period features and a mature garden bursting with teeming flower beds. What we don’t always get with older properties (unless, of course, they’ve been very cleverly restored for the modern market) are contemporary living set-ups, where rooms flow effortlessly and kitchen/diners that are big enough for the after party.

Enter the new build. It was something I’ve never considered before now, but I’ve been doing my research and, like alcohol-free gin, I’m coming round to it. So what do new builds have going for them? Spoiler: quite a lot.

You’ll join the eco-home massive

There are 247,000 homes being built each year in England and Wales (although this is under the government target of 300,000 per year) and government regulations mean that every home built today requires double glazed uPVC windows, high level insulation to roof and walls, energy efficient gas central heating and low energy lighting. And while that’s great news for your monthly bills, it’s also a boon for your resale value. Yep, eco-homes are going to be top of the agenda for prospective house buyers as we move into the next decade thanks to the climate crisis, with Millennials and Gen Z demanding outstanding eco creds.

You’ll never have to share a bathroom again

My tiny Victorian pad currently has one tiny bathroom to boot. ‘Not ideal’ is slightly the understatement. Meanwhile, the bathroom to bedroom ratio in new builds tend to err on the generous side – five bedrooms to four bathrooms is quite common. Frankly, that seems positively palatial to me. Just imagine the bathing opportunities: “Where’s mum?” “In the bathroom.” “Which one?” “Dunno.” If you keep really quiet, they might not find you at all.

You could be recipient of a sweet deal

City & Country homes St Osyth
The new apartments and houses at St Osyth Priory provide a unique opportunity to live within the St Osyth Priory Estate

Obviously, moving home is unbelievably stressful and completion dates, stamp duty costs, and then finding a sofa that fits (rather than using those garden chairs) can all add fuel to the fire. Some new builds offer incredible deals, including the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which ensures you enjoy full ownership of the property with just a 5% deposit.

Near me, the UK’s leading heritage developer City & Country is currently developing a collection of 1 & 2 bedroom apartments and 2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses set within the idyllic and protected heritage setting of the St Osyth Priory Estate in the picturesque village of St Osyth. Prices start at £215,000 (yes, very Home Counties!) and City & Country is offering up a range of options to make the process as easy as possible, including Assisted Move.

Like many other new developments, St Osyth Priory Estate is also playing it smart with facilities: not only does it boast a heritage vibe with the historic Priory, it also comes with oodles of parking (most plots come with two spots each), plus high-spec kitchens and bathrooms (hello, integrated everything). Families with young ones will love the plethora of quality schools nearby too, with Colchester (25 mins) and Chelmsford (50 mins) boasting some of the country’s top grammars and independents. Oh, and did we mention the beauty spots? Unlike most new developments, St Osyth Priory Estate is surrounded by rolling fields and working pastures, sits just minutes from the coast and is adjacent to the River Colne estuary, so long country walks and waterside picnics officially come as standard. 

Keen to be an actual stone’s throw from the beach? Fear not: City & Country is also offering up Sanderling Reach – an elegant development of 2, 3 & 4 bedroom homes on Mersea Island from £370,000 – off-plan reservation opportunities are coming soon, so get in there quick!

They’re designed for life today (not 200 years ago)

It’s fair to say that 17th-century cottage stairs were not designed for king-size mattresses and huge, rambling gardens were created when homes had staff, not just two frantic parents tapping away at a computer every god-given hour to put food on the table. Having something designed for purpose – large living-diner, neat, manageable outdoor space and, er… usefully placed plug sockets won’t tick the grand pronouncements about your new exciting ‘house project’ and you’re probably not going to find some long-forgotten Victorian tiles under the lino, but lord, it can shave off the stress of everyday life – and right now, who’s not up for that? 

Read independent advice from The Homeowners Alliance on what to look for when buying a new home. Find out more about the St Osyth Priory Estate and Sanderling Reach developments at

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