Meet the new village people

The countryside is being concreted over to make way for modern communities without the hassle of real rural life.

One in three thirtysomethings are yearning for something, and that something is a rural lifestyle, according to a recent survey by the Alliance & Leicester. Developers are responding to this strong desire by creating entirely new communities for the property- and car-owning classes, and a modern kind of village life is emerging to satisfy the British desire to escape to the country.

Of course, we are not talking seriously rural here. Just countryside close enough to the M25. In Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent, Countryside Properties has tapped into the market for country living with all the conveniences and none of the inconveniences.

One of the biggest developments is Church Langley, near Harlow, Essex, which now has more than 4,000 homes. Great Notley Garden Village, near Braintree, St Michael's Mead, Bishop's Stortford and Kings Hill, near West Malling, Kent, are all within spitting distance of major road or rail links.

These new villages are based on the traditional components - pond, church, cricket green, pub. But that is probably as far as it goes. The houses are airy and modern. No poky workers' cottages here. And the residents are all incomers, so the village idiot will, of necessity, be an import. People are attracted by things such as business parks, proximity to a large town, good shops, and good schools. Almost as important is the supermarket. How long will it be before Tesco or Sainsbury builds a superstore and then develops a living community around it?

In Great Notley Garden Village the planners have taken things one step further by including a manor house. Is there a lord of the manor? "We have been looking into whether there is a title available, but no luck so far," says Guy Lambert, of Countryside Properties.

Prices in Great Notley range from pounds 65,000 to pounds 200,000, with properties available with a 5 per cent deposit, and there are also some part-exchange deals. The village has, among other things, a 400,000 sq ft business park, day nursery, doctor's surgery and a supermarket.

There are plenty of real villages around the country, with many of these attractions, but they usually also have real-life problems such as run- down council estates, unemployment, a boarded-up village post office and teenagers running riot out of boredom. Then there are the villages steeped in history with middle-class imports living in listed Tudor cottages who petition against everything that smacks of innovation or enterprise, much to the chagrin of the locals.

The Howleys have lived in Great Notley for one year. "What impresses me is the attention to detail that has been put into this development, from a beautifully built brick wall to the large country parks," says Mr Howley. They are retired and enjoy living in an environment where their day-to-day living needs are fully met, but within a mixed community including young families. But don't assume this is an insular existence. The village has the usual visiting attractions: antique fairs, Essex radio roadshows. And in July there is a three-day music festival in the amphitheatre.

These villages will sell because they are untouched by rural problems. The British village is being revamped and sanitised for new middle-class communities., but this isn't just an environment for the unimaginative nuclear family. I have a friend who lives in just such a place. As a music producer working from home, his central London flat was far too small. In his new house he has enough space, the walls have been soundproofed and the windows blacked out so that he can work all through the day or night without distraction.

Space is the issue on this overcrowded island. With technology hastening the end of office life, the demand for a self-contained, pod-like habitat will increase, and we will all have to accept that the march of suburbia is relentless.

Countryside Residential 01277 690552

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home