Baobab Developments A Company Profile
At Baobab, we pride and position ourselves as boutique property developers, as deliverers of design and architecture. I started this company 10 years ago with the single intention to build beautiful buildings and this central mission drives and guides everything we do. If ever a decision creates conflict with this, we default to this overriding desire to create incredible spaces for people to live. Design drives decisions. I have a real passion for design and architecture, but had neither the stamina nor abilities to become an architect myself, so developing and commissioning architecture was the next best thing.
In the nine years of our operation, we have built out nine schemes, creating 18 houses and 7 apartments. We have a further eight in various stages of construction at the moment, creating 27 houses and 9 apartments. All properties in build and built are characterised by the four elements we strive to incorporate in to all of our buildings: design, detail, light and space.
Property developers have a bad reputation: I was in Komedia in the lanes one evening, arriving late to discover my wife had got us a spot right at the front of the stage. Nightmare. Inevitably, the compere made a beeline to me and asked what I did for a living. Rather than saying I was a paramedic or a charity worker, I made the mistake of saying I was a property developer. The whole audience booed me as if I was the devil incarnate. It was a lesson! I understood the disdain – property developers are in the main able to be characterised by soulless, profit driven development, devoid of character and thought, with every corner cut. We consider ourselves at the other end of the spectrum – we aim to over-deliver. I was once called an ‘anti-developer’ following our scheme on Withdean Road: the site we bought had planning permission for four large houses of over 5000 square feet each. We then spent a year in planning getting a permission for three houses with an overall area of around two thirds of that already permitted: spending a year and all that money to reduce a site down from four to three is not what your average developer would do. This was rewarded by three magnificent houses which won both a RIBA award and a Sussex Heritage Award in 2017.
We are proud to be from Brighton and try to be as localist as possible in what we do. We use local contractors, such as the excellent Nutshell Construction, as well as local specialist subcontractors, architects, designers, consultants, accountants and lawyers. We appreciate that being next to a construction site is not particularly pleasurable, so we do what we can to ameliorate this experience for our neighbours. Alongside the Considerate Constructor’s scheme, it might even be small things such as commissioning local awesome artists Art+Believe to paint temporary artworks on our hoardings – you may well have seen them around! We also try to engage with the city at large, whether it be sponsorship of events such as the Festival or the Food Awards, or assistance with local charities. Watch this space – we will have an exciting announcement shortly of our partnering with a local homeless charity. There are four of us in the company, myself, Ross Barnes our Project Manager / QS and Hannah Norrish Jones, our Office Manager. Our offices are on Grand Parade and so if you are ever passing do come and say hello!
we have some very exciting projects at the moment:
- Tongdean Avenue, Hove: we are building a single house designed by the Manser Medal winning architects Carl Turner Architects. This is a low slung, black brick, single storey house arranged around a central courtyard. It is being built by local contractors Nutshell Construction and has an incredible garden design by local Landscape Design expert Nick Dexter. This has sold off plan and is due to complete in August this year.
- The Vaults, Lewes: following a design from YELO architects, we are in the last throes of a four house scheme in central Lewes, behind Steamer Trading on the high street. Contemporary in design, but using traditional, local materials, these four townhouses sit atop listed chalk vaults dating back some three hundred years. Three of the four have been sold and the they will complete in the next month or so
- Arundel Road: we are building two contemporary townhouses on Arundel Road in Kemp Town. The architects were Brighton based Alter & Co and these houses are due for completion in September this year.
- Malling Street, Lewes: multi award winning architects John Pardey Architects have designed a striking design of 5 townhouses on the site of the old second hand car lot Cuilfail Cars. We took the responsibility of being a gateway project to the town, devising a scheme again contemporary in nature, but detailed beautifully with local, traditional materials.
- Ringmer: on a beautiful rural site, with views to the downs and Glyndebourne, we are providing five houses drawn from the pen of local architects ECE Architecture. These will be abvilabnle early 2019.
- Hurstpierpoint: we currently have an application in for ten houses on the edge of Hurstpierpoint village. Another John Pardey Architects scheme, this is a cluster of ten two and three bedroom homes, arranged as farm buildings might be with long ranging views to the Downs. A naturalistic and ecologically sensitive landscaping design from Nick Dexter Studio really beds this scheme in to the surrounding environment.
- Dyke Road Avenue, Hove: we are in planning at the moment with two incredible houses, again from John Pardey, that exploit the elevated position to the south of Dyke Road Avenue. These timber and glass have views down the valley to the sea and will be flooded with light.
- Purley: we also have a scheme for nine flats in a leafy avenue in Purley, working again with ECE Architects.
as for what the future holds for Baobab, we will continue our gentle expansion, and look to continue to build beautiful houses and spaces to live and work for people in Brighton, Hove and Sussex at large. We have some very interesting conversations happening regarding various opportunities, be they seafront plots or larger schemes with the Goodwood Estate. I would like to remain true to the spirit of the Ephebic Oath that young Athenians would swear that, “I will leave this city not less but more beautiful than I found it”.