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Getting all the aesthetics right

Retirement villages are key to avoid a future housing crisis
Retirement villages are key to avoid a future housing crisis

You wouldn’t believe the gardening involved in planning a new development. Janet Burnell, of Kent-based Pentland Homes, puts on her gardening gloves.

We have recently moved into a new sales office at Hurricane Way, Hawkinge, and within a week, the area surrounding the office was transformed from mud, couch grass and rubble to an attractive landscaped garden.

It made me think – there is something very important about a garden, the quintessential British delight.

For each new development, part of our planning application is to incorporate a landscape architect’s proposed designs. One reason for this is because the aesthetics of an area are very important and landscaping can set the look of the whole development.

Our tree and shrub planning are designed to define neighbourhoods, particularly on large sites like Bayeuxfields at Hawkinge. We do this by using colour: we planted one area using all cherry trees, another area with Photinia (red robin) – this is also a good hedging plant, which grows well and gives attractive red foliage.

Many shrubs we plant have berries which encourage birds into the area and when the trees mature nesting will take place – I believe a garden comes alive with the activity of wildlife.

Another consideration is to design a garden for all seasons: good landscaping is the art of producing colour throughout the year, not just for the summer. Trees such as buddleia not only look attractive with the lilac flowers but encourage butterflies. Dogwood hedgerows and berberis give colour in autumn. Although, initially, most plants are small, within five years the whole area can be transformed.

With all of our developments, we aim to create a garden scene which is in keeping with its setting. Our site in the Elham Valley, which is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, showcases homes arranged around a courtyard setting, with three out of the six properties having their own patch of woodland – very unusual for new builds.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Sheffield has revealed that living close to natural habitats and open green spaces can contribute to a person’s overall health and wellbeing, a factor we also bear in mind.

We are also conscious to preserve nature and enhance the ecology of the area – still rooted in Elham’s grounds is a cedar tree and monkey-puzzle tree and many of the rhododendrons lining the drive date back to the early 1930s.

For those who are equally passionate about gardens, over the next few months, Kent will be holding open garden events for the public which is a great way to see and appreciate some of the county’s finest. With summer hopefully on its way, now is the time to really appreciate the garden of England!

For further information on Pentland Homes, ring 01303 893080 or see www.pentlandhomes.co.uk

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