Thursday, 30 November 2017

‘Amazing’ Larkfleet helps couple take the next step on the housing ladder

Larkfleet Homes Bourne Heights
Recently engaged couple Liam Robinson (23) and Zoe Johnson (22) loved their first Larkfleet home so much that when they decided to take the next step on the housing ladder in Bourne, buying another Larkfleet home was a no-brainer.

The whole team at Larkfleet Homes is delighted to welcome Liam and Zoe to their new home.
Zoe told us: “This is our second home. Our first was also a Larkfleet property in Pinchbeck, around 15 miles away. We had been waiting 18 months to get the house we were after in Witham Crescent on Larkfleet's Bourne Heights development. Jackie the sales executive made this happen.

“Dean, the current site manager at Bourne Heights, was our site manager at Pinchbeck as well, so we knew that we would get a great service.”

The couple took advantage of the Larkfleet Homes Assisted Sale scheme. We arranged for Liam and Zoe’s old property to be sold and paid their estate agent fees, which allowed them to reserve the property that they wanted in Bourne.

Liam said: “We had to live in a caravan on my parents drive for three months while our house was being built – but it was worth it in the end!

“Elaine, Jackie, Maureen and Dean have all been amazing!

“Right from the start Jackie helped us get the house we wanted, and we always had a laugh when we went in to see her.

“And Dean has helped no end on other bits and pieces - any issues we have had, he's either sorted it straight away or sent someone round.”

It’s great to get such positive feedback from our customers and we wish Zoe and Liam many happy years in their new Larkfleet home.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The champagne flowed at the Peterborough Business Awards

Larkfleet Group Peterborough Business Awards
The bubbly was flowing at a gala night celebrating the best in Peterborough Business this month. The Larkfleet Group team was pleased to be on hand to help by sponsoring the ‘Environmental Achievement’ award.

Environmental achievement and sustainability is very important to all of us at Larkfleet Homes. We are continually showing our commitment through innovations including the recently announced elevating house and our ‘grid neutral’ house. So, it made perfect sense for us to sponsor the category.

There were three finalists in the environmental achievements category of the awards, organised by the Peterborough Telegraph. They were Green Energy Switch, Hunt & Coombes and Investors in the Environment (IIE).

The worthy winner was Hunt & Coombes, one of the region’s leading law firms. It operates in diverse fields of the law including property, commercial, employment, personal injury, crime and mental health. 

We are told that winning the Peterborough Business Award was the culmination of many years commitment to environmental issues by the partners and staff. Over the past decade the firm has focused on continuously improving its environmental performance in relation to its services and operations.

Hunt & Coombes was the first law firm to be awarded the Investors in Environment Green Award, which it still holds. It is also three-times winner of the Great Green Star Award at the IIE Awards.

Daily monitoring of utilities means that the lawyers have made huge savings on their usage of gas, electricity and water. The firm has also reduced its waste to landfill and increased its recycling significantly. It also completed a Zero Waste Week Challenge in its Peterborough office. Almost 100 per cent of its waste was recycled; just 1.05 per cent was sent to landfill and on one of the five days it achieved its goal of zero waste to landfill!

Just like the Larkfleet Group team, Hunt & Coombs has always had a strong philosophy of supporting and serving the local community. Forging strong links with local schools and charities is at the heart of that.

Big congratulations to the Hunt & Coombes team, to both Green Energy Switch and Investors in Environment and to all the other winners and nominees on the night. It was great to be in such fantastic company.

Looking forward to being involved next year.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Time to think about your Christmas food

Larkfleet Homes Christmas tips
Most of us won’t have heard of it, but this Sunday is ‘Stir Up Sunday’. It’s the last Sunday before Advent. During Church of England services this Sunday one of the readings will have the words “Stir up, we beseech thee O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.

In years gone by this was a reminder that now is the time to start making the matured Christmas pudding.

It is the time when the family gets together in the kitchen and mixes up the pudding. Everyone has a stir of the mixture and makes a wish for the coming season. The kitchen fills up with the smells of Christmas as the pudding is steamed.

We know that not everyone is a fan, but let’s face it - Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a figgy pudding.

There are numerous recipes out there for Christmas puddings. Our favourite is this one from Mary Berry, which can be found here.

If you’re anything likes us, you might not have time (or even want) to cook a Christmas pudding. This is when shop-bought puddings come into their own.

There are plenty to choose from and most major supermarket stock their own versions of this Christmas classic.

Here’s a list of the main ones;
  • Aldi Specially Selected Golden Topped Christmas Pudding, 907g: £7.99*, Aldi (Serves 8)
  • Iceland Luxury Christmas Pudding with a Brandy Sauce Centre, 907g: £6, Iceland (Serves 8)
  • Lidl Deluxe 24 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 907g: £11.99, Lidl (Serves 8)
  • Morrisons The Best Pear and Pedro Ximenez Sherry Christmas Pudding, 800g: £8, Morrisons (Serves 8)
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Cognac Laced 18 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 450g: £5, Sainsbury’s (Serves 4)
  • Heston from Waitrose Persian Spiced Christmas Pudding, 800g: £14, Waitrose (Serves 8)
And while you’re thinking about your Christmas pudding it’s an idea to think about what else you’re going to serve on the big day. Will it be turkey, goose – or something novel? Keep an eye on our blog over the coming weeks as we pull together some tips to help you create the perfect Christmas.

*Prices may vary

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Did you see us on TV?

We like to think we ‘punch above our weight’ at Larkfleet Homes. We are one of the top 50 builders in the UK in terms of the number of houses we produce – but, if we’re honest, we are only just in the top 50. And we are quite a way behind the really big builders.

Karl Hick Larkfleet Homes Daily Politics
So it was flattering that when the BBC wanted someone from the housebuilding industry to comment on the budget they didn’t go to one of the big builders. They came to us.

Our chief executive, Karl Hick, was interviewed live on BBC TV this afternoon, giving his views on the many things that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond had said about housing and housebuilding in his speech in the House of Commons.

Of course, we have welcomed news that most first-time buyers will not now have to pay Stamp Duty. It will give a significant boost to the ability of young people to get onto the ‘housing ladder’, something that we’re really keen on at Larkfleet.

But in his TV interview Karl pointed out that one of the big challenges facing small and medium-sized housebuilders such as Larkfleet is the ability to get the cash we need to build more homes more quickly.

This was a topic that Philip Hammond specifically addressed during his budget speech, saying: “If we don’t do more to support the growth of the small and medium enterprise housebuilding sector we will remain dependent on the major national housebuilders that dominate the industry.”

He therefore announced measures such as new money for the Home Builders Fund “to get small and medium enterprise housebuilders building again” and a £630 million small sites fund to “unstick the delivery of 40,000 homes”.

He pledged that over the next five years the government would commit a total of at least £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market.

He also announced new funding for construction industry training, new infrastructure investment and the creation of new ‘garden towns’.

This is all good news for the industry. And that should mean it is good news for house buyers. And it has given us our 'five minutes of fame'!

Our photo shows Karl Hick live on air on BBC TV.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Colour trends for peace and mindfulness in your new home

Larkfleet Homes colour trends
Want to make your new home a peaceful refuge from the business of the day-to-day world outside but not sure what colours to choose to be 'on trend'? At Larkfleet Homes we have been web surfing, looking for some colour inspiration.

What did we find? Well, it looks like Dulux has made your choice nice and easy. Be on trend with your colour choices.

The Dulux colour of the year for 2018 is called Heart Wood, a light mauve/lilac colour. You can see visualisations of the colour on the Dulux website here. It’s a colour that will fit in with just about any design trend idea that is emerging for next year. And you can expect last year’s Dulux colour of the year Denim to compliment heartwood in colour palettes for your kitchen designs. Dark plum is also right on trend and will also compliment the Heart Wood palette.

Heart Wood is a subtle and warm tone of grown-up pink, it draws from the tactile qualities of natural wood and leather, conveying comfort and ease in response to consumers wanting to nestle down more and create a “welcome home”.

There’s a strong overarching trend of consumers wanting to transform their homes into spaces of retreat from the outside world. Think about the Scandinavian trend of Hygge.

As life gets faster, now is the time to press pause. Our home needs to be a place where we can turn down the noise, where we can nurture our values and recharge. Colour can play a significant role in addressing the balance between outside clamour and inner calm, according to Dulux.

We think that Heart Wood and its four complementary colour palettes will help you to achieve a home that is truly and uniquely yours, bringing a feeling of safety and reassurance, creating a welcome home for all.

Make your home your haven. Calming colours like Heart Wood capture the mood of the moment and allow you to live in perfect balance in your home. Use colour to make your home a place of harmony, comfort and ease for all. Combine gentle shades of grey-pink, blues and soft cocoa flowing into bolder shades of ink blue and purple.

Take inspiration from the tactile qualities of natural wood and the comfort of leather, materials that we often turn to during times of unpredictability. Calming and restorative, these colour palettes give a sense of connection between the inside and outside world.

We hope you have fun creating your own haven of peace and tranquillity.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Get out into the garden while you still can

Larkfleet Homes November gardening tips
Here’s a tip for all you armchair gardeners. Get out into the garden while you still can. To echo Game of Thrones – Winter is coming. And as it comes on you are running out of opportunities to tidy up and make your outdoor spaces look reasonably neat during the colder, duller months of the year.

Meteorologists are predicting the chance of a colder winter is significantly higher than in recent years. Great if you’re hoping for a white Christmas – not so much if you have stuff to do in the garden, so now’s the time to prepare.

Here are a few of the things you should be doing to protect your garden against the worst that winter has to throw at it and keep it in tip top condition, ready for the next growing season:

  • Rake your lawns and keep them clear of fallen leaves – also clear leaves from sheds, ponds and flower beds. Use the collected leaves to make leaf mould for compost.
  • Raise containers on to pot feet to prevent water logging.
  • Plant out tulip bulbs for next spring’s floral display.
  • Prune roses.
  • Plant out winter bedding plants.
  • Cover any brassicas (cabbages, Brussels sprouts etc) to protect them against birds – particularly if pigeons are a problem where you live.
  • Insulate containers to protect them from frost.
  • Put grease bands around the trunks of your fruit trees to stop winter moth damage.
  • If you have one, make sure your bird table is in good repair and put out bird feed to encourage winter birds into the garden.
  • Clean out water butts and let the autumn rains refill them. Install a new water butt ready for next year.
  • Once plants are dormant, it’s time to lift and relocate any you want to move.
  • If there is a prolonged dry spell, now’s your last chance to repaint any fences or sheds.

Looking ahead to the festive season, if you have holly gather a few stems with berries to use for Christmas garlands – before the birds eat all the berries. Stand the cut stems in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where the birds can’t get at them.

For more details of jobs to do in the garden this month visit the RHS website

Larkfleet Homes makes a splash at Eye School

Larkfleet Homes hands over cheque for Eye school swimming pool
One thing we pride ourselves on at Larkfleet Homes is helping the communities where we have new housing developments. When we heard that Eye Church of England Primary School, in the village of Eye, near Peterborough, was refurbishing its swimming pool we stepped in to help.

Not stepped into the pool - just the fundraising. To get the school on its way with the project we donated £5,000.

Head teacher Jason Webster said the school was very grateful for the grant from the Larkfleet Community Fund.

“We have had a pool at the school for some time, but it is now starting to look tired.

“It is the school’s intention to get more closely involved in the community – for example we currently provide facilities for Eye Juniors Football Team and Eye Amateur Pantomime Society. Opening the pool to community users on evenings, weekends and holidays is part of that process.

“We need to renovate the pool to fulfil that ambition. We are close to reaching our target of £47,000 thanks to the donation from the Larkfleet Community Fund. Work on the refurbishment is due to begin in January and will take about six weeks to complete.”

The donation is the first major grant from our Larkfleet Community Fund, managed by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, since it was recently reorganised.

The Larkfleet Community Fund was established in 2013 to support the integration of our housing developments within their local setting and help to create sustainable communities. It offered easily accessible cash to support local charitable projects.

Each housing development had its own ‘pot’ of money within the overall fund and the process of receiving applications and making grants was handed over to an independent local community foundation.

We have now decided to change the way in which we operate and administer the fund. There is now a single central fund which will make grants to any community organisation or charitable cause that operates close to a current Larkfleet Homes or Allison Homes development.

The new arrangements will help us to administer and give out grants more quickly and across a wider area, directly benefiting more worthy causes and local people.

If you have a community project or good cause that you think could benefit from our Larkfleet Community Fund, please get in touch.

Our photo shows Larkfleet director Mark Mann (left) handing over our cheque at the school.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A winning night at the Stamford Mercury Business Awards

We had a great night at the Stamford Mercury Business Awards last week. The bubbly was flowing and, as well as enjoying a gala night out, we walked away with the award for Business of the Year. Get in!

We can add this to our recent major industry awards for technology, quality and environmental performance – including two ‘housebuilder of the year’ titles.

Classical guitarist Steve Bean entertained us all before the presentation of the Mercury Business Awards 2017, which were hosted for the first time by Rutland Radio breakfast presenter Rob Persani.

Larkfleet Homes was nominated because we have an enviable reputation for producing high quality, new homes in sustainable developments. We use innovative technology and construction methods to deliver new homes which exceed customers' expectations.

The judges decided that we are a worthy recipient of the award because we have substantially increased sales in the past year.

We have also expanded. Allison Homes has been developed as a separate company, with Larkfleet Homes concentrating on timber-framed houses and Allison Homes on conventional brick-and-block construction.

Not only that, we have opened new house building companies under the Larkfleet brand in the South West of England, Scotland and Norfolk & Suffolk. We have already built and sold homes in Scotland and Somerset. We are actively building on two sites in the South West, and discussions about planning consents for significant new developments in Norfolk and Scotland are ongoing.

It’s not just about housebuilding. We have launched major new R&D initiatives including an ‘elevating house’ that can rise above flood waters – which will therefore permit development on flood plains – and a ‘grid neutral’ house which will generate as much electricity as it uses.

On top of all these business initiatives the judges also thought that our contributions to the community were equally important.

One of the most significant of these has been the opening of the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC) – of which we are one of three ‘employer sponsors’. We have been involved with the project since its inception and support the college with cash, contributions in kind and staff time.

We are also a major contributor to local charities and support local schools with time, cash and teaching. There has also been the launch of the Larkfleet Community Fund which gives money to support community development in areas where Larkfleet Homes or Allison Homes are building new houses.

We're not going to rest on our laurels though. Larkfleet Homes has ambitious plans that should see us win some more trophies for the cabinet over the coming months and years.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Larkfleet Homes is helping to close the industry skills gap

Larkfleet signs Skills Pledge
All of us at Larkfleet Homes are committed to working with our subcontractors to recruit and train more people to the highest standards. A skills gap in the building industry in the East Midlands – and nationally – has been identified and we are helping to tackle it ‘head on’.

To ‘put our money where our mouth is’ we have signed up to the Home Building Skills Pledge. This set of five key actions has been developed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) through its Home Building Skills Partnership to solve a nationwide skills shortage. It also recognises the importance of ‘future-proofing’ workforce skills by developing new ways for people to enter the building industry as well as developing existing talent with the industry.

The Skills Pledge covers five important areas: Collaborate and share; Train to a standard; Engage and support; Champion diversity and inclusion; and Promote careers. By signing up to the Pledge, companies will also be supporting the HBF’s Home Building Skills Partnership and working to its shared goals.

We are delighted to be supporting the Home Building Skills Pledge and being part of the growing momentum for really tackling this crucial agenda. It is vital to nurture the future of the construction industry if we are to build the homes that the country needs.

By signing up to the Pledge we are committing Larkfleet Homes to recruit the best possible talent and to train people to the highest standards. By being proactive in terms of engaging staff, and by being inclusive and diverse in our recruitment, we will be able to future-proof our workforce to continue to deliver high quality new homes.

As part of our commitment to industry and education we are already a major investor in training and skills development as one of the sponsors of the newly-opened Greater Peterborough University Technical College, which aims to give young people ‘hands on’ as well as theoretical training for careers in the engineering and construction sectors.

It’s great to be helping to nurture the future of our industry.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Larkfleet Homes helped Bourne Abbey Primary fireworks go with a bang

We love a good fireworks party at Larkfleet Homes.

And we certainly enjoyed one at Bourne Abbey Primary School last Saturday evening (4th November). This community event is one of the best in the area and we were pleased to help things go with a bang.

Crowds enjoyed two spectacular firework displays from Phenomenal Fireworks and a bonfire, live music and entertainment, a Round Table beer tent, and fun fair rides. There were also a variety of stalls selling various goodies and treats!

Visitors were welcomed to the display by Bourne mayor Paul Fellows. It was a chilly night, but our hearts were warmed by a musical recital from the choirs of Bourne Abbey Primary School and Elsea Park Primary School.

The bonfire – complete with Guy – was lit at 4.45 pm followed by a quieter children’s display.

After an hour of live music from local band Revolver the display team lit the blue touch paper on the main musical firework display. It was a spectacular display and got plenty of ‘Ooohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd.

The whole thing got great reviews on Facebook and plans are already in hand for next year.

All of us at Larkfleet Homes had a great time at the event and we’re looking forward to doing it all again next year.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Don’t be worried by the interest rate hike – say mortgage experts


The Bank of England increased interest rates for the first time in a decade this week. The base rate went up by a quarter of one per cent to 0.5 per cent. But what will be the impact on new home buyers and those with existing mortgages?

There’s no need to worry just yet, say the experts. They do not expect the increase to have a significant impact on most UK households.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said: “The proportion of borrowers directly impacted by a rate rise will be smaller than in the past, in part because the majority of new mortgages in recent years were extended on fixed rates. The share of outstanding mortgages on variable rates has fallen to a record low of around 40 per cent, down from a peak of about 70 per cent in 2001.

“A 0.25 per cent increase is likely to have a modest impact on most borrowers who are on variable rates. On the average mortgage, an increase of 0.25 per cent would increase monthly payments by £15  – equivalent to £180 a year.”

This is not to say that rise will be welcome news for many. Household budgets are under pressure from the fact that wages have not been rising as fast as the cost of living. In real terms wage rates are still at levels that were prevailing in 2005.

There will be a little ‘pain’ but, on the whole, the message to UK borrowers is not to panic.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Stay safe this Bonfire Night

Fireworks Night is a fun time. There's nothing better on a dark November evening than having your own bonfire and fireworks in your back garden. Dodge the crowds and invite family and friends round to celebrate. Put some baked potatoes in the fire. Make some pea and ham soup and have a warming drink or two.

But remember - keep your family and pets safe this Bonfire Night.

Here are some safety tips from the Royal Society for the prevention of accident (RoSPA):

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable
  • Keep your fireworks in a closed box - an old biscuit tin is perfect - and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
  • It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s
  • Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
  • Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit
  • Don’t wave sparklers about close to other people
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
  • When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water.
  • One person should be responsible for the bonfire and children should be supervised
  • Choose a site away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing
  • Never pour petrol, paraffin or meths on to a fire - it’s safer to use fire lighters to prevent flare-ups
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident
  • Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
  • After the party, pour water on the fire, rather than leaving it to burn out.

For more on firework safety visit
And remember, have fun.