Meet the new Y.I.M.B.Y. lords

Eleanor Doughty vis­its the Scot­tish es­tate own­ers who are build­ing towns from scratch on their land, creat­ing thou­sands of homes

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Ear­lier this month, the Govern­ment an­nounced its sup­port for three new gar­den towns and 14 vil­lages to boost the coun­try’s hous­ing sup­ply. The ma­jor­ity of these are be­ing built on brown­field sites, such as the for­mer Deenethorp­e airfield in Northamp­ton­shire. But a few pri­vate landown­ers have al­ready taken the plunge, at their own ex­pense.

In Scot­land, four of the coun­try’s grand­est fam­i­lies have set about build­ing new towns on their es­tates. David Carnegie, fourth Duke of Fife; John Stu­art, 21st Earl of Mo­ray; John­nie Grant, 13th Earl of Dysart; and David Pa­ton, whose fam­ily has lived at Grand­home near Aberdeen since 1673, have each donned hard hats and are build­ing set­tle­ments on their es­tates.

On the south side of Aberdeen, two miles from the North Sea, all but “about three fields” of El­sick, the Duke of Fife’s 1,600-acre es­tate, will form a new town. Forty years from now, Chapel­ton of El­sick, a com­mu­nity of 8,000 homes, will have been built from scratch. “It is quite ex­treme,” the Duke ad­mits.

His Chapel­ton jour­ney be­gan in 2010. Plans had been an­nounced for a long-awaited by­pass around the west side of Aberdeen, and “ev­ery square inch of land was in the pot” for build­ing new hous­ing, the Duke says. Con­scious to re­tain some con­trol, he de­cided to spear­head a project him­self. “We said to the coun­cil, ‘We’ll take all of the prob­lems away from you for 40 years’, and once you’re in for a big devel­op­ment, you’re in for a town.”

De­spite the Duke’s aca­demic record – Eton, a law de­gree from Cam­bridge, a diploma from the Royal Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity and an MBA from Ed­in­burgh – he had no idea where to start. “One of the first things I asked was, ‘How do you build a town?’ ” he re­calls.

Help­fully, his friend and dis­tant cousin Lord Mo­ray al­ready had plans un­der way for a 12,000-res­i­dent town called Tor­na­grain, just out­side In­ver­ness, where res­i­dents will be­gin to move in at the end of Fe­bru­ary. The Duke promptly hired the brains be­hind Tor­na­grain, Amer­i­can town plan­ner An­drés Duany, a co-founder of the ur­ban de­sign move­ment New Ur­ban­ism, to put Chapel­ton to­gether.

“An­drés is the most ex­pe­ri­enced town plan­ner in the world,” the Duke says. “He doesn’t ex­per­i­ment with peo­ple’s lives, he does what he knows works.” Just five years after the plans were drawn up, fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process, the first cou­ple moved in on Valen­tine’s Day 2015.

The new ur­ban­ist phi­los­o­phy em­ployed at Chapel­ton, Tor­na­grain, and on the Pa­ton fam­ily’s Grand­home project – also planned by Duany – is neigh­bour­hood-based.

‘One of the first things I asked was, how do you build a town?’

Lord of the manor: The Duke of Fife at home at El­sick House, cover and main; the newly built homes at Chapel­ton of El­sick, above; Chapel­ton’s hair and beauty sa­lon, be­low right; the Earl of Mo­ray at Tor­na­grain, be­low

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.