awrence Zeegan, 58, and Rebecca Wright, 49, lived happily and comfortably in a modern, stylish, three-bedroom, three-story townhouse in Greenwich, south-east London with their five-year-old daughter Zoë. Then came the pandemic – and they decided to sell and move out of the capital.
“One of the biggest contributing factors was our daughter’s health,” Lawrence explains. “The air quality in Greenwich is not fantastic and we were very aware that our property was not a million miles away from all the traffic from the Blackwall Tunnel.”
Rebecca adds: “We had always thought we would move from London eventually, maybe in five to 10 years. But when the pandemic hit, we started to wonder what we were waiting for.”
When Covid restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2020, the family spent their weekends driving out to nearby towns to see what was on offer. Unfortunately, during this period, Lawrence was diagnosed with cancer. “We were very attached to the house, more than we could have been if Lawrence had not been recovering,” Rebecca says.
“But it definitely helped us to have something to work towards, and it became a really important goal for us to find a place that was right for us as a family.”
Their top priority was to be within commuting distance of the capital. Rebecca was working near King’s Cross and Lawrence was working in Greenwich at the time, so they both needed easy access to the city. They also wanted to be close for social reasons. “The pandemic did not make us fall in love with London, but it made us bolder in deciding what we needed as a family,” says Rebecca.
The couple did not want to move completely away from city life and therefore Cambridge was a top candidate. “We both work with design educations at universities,” says Rebecca. “As a university town, Cambridge felt really alive. It has an international, young, ambitious feel here, as well as a beautiful history.
“You also have Science Park and biotech companies that attract people who are part of the future. We did not want to feel like we were retiring from life in London, nor did we want a quieter life, we just wanted another. “
Disappointed with the housing stock offered in central Cambridge, they came across a new development of House by Urban Splash in Inholm, Northstowe, a new town 12 miles north of town. “We wanted to look for non-traditional properties that would allow for a different way of living and allow us to invest in interesting architecture,” Lawrence says.
“Northstowe and House by Urban Splash immediately appealed, and we put a reservation fee on our new three-bedroom, three-story Town House house overlooking the water park the first weekend in September 2020.”
The couple sold in London for £ 900,000 and bought on Inholm for around £ 600,000. The £ 2,000 booking fee, which was non-refundable if they had not gone ahead, was deducted from the purchase price upon completion.
“The homes are designed with a focus on the importance of space, natural light and adaptability,” Lawrence adds. “They have really been considered as spaces to live and grow old in.” Rebecca adds: “The house is modular and flexible, so as our family changes, we can very easily change the decor. It is also much more efficient to drive than the average new build. It feels like a responsible as well as an enjoyable way to live on. “
Since she moved last December, Rebecca has found her commute, though longer, much more comfortable. She travels to London two or three days a week on the guided bus route from the Inholm scheme to Cambridge North station. From there it is an hour’s train directly to King’s Cross and then a five minute walk to work. An annual season pass from Cambridge North to King’s Cross costs £ 5,592, while a flexi season pass costs £ 331.10 for an eight-day pass. A five-day guided busway flexi ticket costs £ 16.80.
“My journey is much less stressful and I always manage to get a seat, so the time I spend traveling is so much more productive than when I used to commute from Greenwich,” she says.
Lawrence had planned to drive to Greenwich to work, but a new job offer at the end of last year means he now drives 100 miles to Birmingham City University twice a week. He used to cycle to work in under 10 minutes when he lived in Greenwich.
“My eco-credentials are not what they once were,” he says. “I now drive to Birmingham Monday morning, spend the night, come back Tuesday night and sometimes go in again on a Thursday or Friday.”
They clearly love their new lifestyle in Cambridge and do not regret moving. “We bought a house on the edge of the settlement overlooking a lake,” says Rebecca. “The water park has plenty of seating, bike paths and picnic areas, and Urban Splash holds a number of events to help introduce the community to each other. There is a play area, a communal garden, communal bicycle sheds, a viewing platform to gather in the shade – and we can now walk Zoë to the school, which is in the heart of the local community here. ”
The family enjoys the more relaxed lifestyle and says that a close community is already being formed. “The last few years have made us realize that these are things we value and want to be a part of,” Lawrence says.
“We enjoy long family trips, the feeling of openness and space both outdoors and inside our wonderful new home, and we look forward to making new friends in the area and taking root here.”
For more information on developments in Inholm, Northstowe, visit housebyurbansplash.co.uk