A Cold War nuclear bunker is probably not the first thing you would think of when considering buildings for conversion into a home of any kind, let alone a luxury home, but you may be surprised as that is exactly the basis of a £3m home which is now up for sale.
The home in Chislehurst, Kent used to be a bunker where government officials could hide in the event of nuclear attack during the Cold War period, which fortunately never proved necessary. It was one of four Regional Control Centres in the London area and featured a map room, dormitory, showers and stores for food and water as well as diesel generators to provide electricity and power for communications and air filtration.
The Cold War period came to an end around 1991, and after that time the bunker was no longer maintained, falling into disrepair.
In 1998 the building was bought by estate agents Piermont, and within two years it had been converted into a luxury home named 'The Glasshouse'. The extensive conversion included the need to cut windows through the five foot thick concrete walls, each of which required three days of work by a two tonne cutting machine!
The house gets its name from the addition of a huge glass roof which sits above the centre of the property which now features a swimming pool along with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a host of high-tech features. The glass roof can be opened, lights and curtains controlled and visitors welcomed, all remotely via a touch-screeen interface.
The home may be nearly unrecognisable from its former use, but has saved a derelict building with an interesting history and proves what can be achieved with an open mind and a selection of good tradespeople!
The owners of a large townhouse in the wealthy Kensington borough of London have upset neighbours by painting the exterior of their home with bright red stripes, following a row over planning permission.
The owners wanted to demolish the house and rebuild it entirely, including a new two-storey basement. There was considerable local opposition to these controversial plans, leading to them being refused by Kensington and Chelsea council. This lead to the owners carrying out the unusual paint-job on the exterior of their home, much to their neighbours' dismay.
One anonymous local resident said: "It’s between unbelievably hideous and very funny. I think it's horrendous.
"It's funny but it's probably not the nicest gesture. It's kind of a 'piss off', I think - architecturally, it doesn't belong here."
A representative from the local council said that painting a building did not require planning permission.
The house owners have actually received approval of their plans following an appeal, but neighbours are determined to continue to fight the development.
Sheffield council has released details of plans for a major redevelopment of the city centre, focusing mostly on retail but also to include new residential and office space.
The 900,000 square ft development, named Sheffield Retail Quarter, will dedicate 700,000 square feet to retail and leisure outlets and the rest to be divided between residential and office space. The new district will be street-based rather than a shopping centre/mall, and the new outlets will be built among existing historic buildings in the city centre.
Sheffield council is planning to have the developments 80% complete by 2019, with final work finishing in 2021.
Around 2,500 jobs are expected to be created as a result of the scheme, both in construction and later full-time jobs in the new areas of the city centre.
Sheffield council’s executive director, Simon Green, commented: "The design merges with Sheffield's award-winning public spaces and world-renowned cultural assets including City Hall, The Crucible and The Lyceum theatres - and links key retail pitches in the city centre from The Moor through to Fargate. This will complement the new shopping facilities and provide food and drink, office and residential space to extend the city centre's attraction as an evening entertainment option."
Architect Child Graddon Lewis is to work on the next stage of the £1bn regeneration of the old Granada TV Studios in Manchester, early plans for which include a 'vertical village' - two towers that could be made up of around 1,500 flats, a school, shops, cinema and other leisure facilities.
Vertical communities aim to maximise the potential of available land by building upwards, and provide almost everything people could need for living, working, shopping and leisure all in the same space.
The mixed-use towers may be built on the site of two car parks at the western end of what is now St John's Quarter, and would feature communal gardens within the cores of the towers.
Mike Ingall, head of the developers Allied London, commented: "The vertical village is an idea. It might not be realistic but who knows. You have got to be bold and push the boundaries of living and that is what we are trying to do.
"Our vision is not just to create a mixed-use neighbourhood for Manchester but to bring together enterprise, innovation, culture, entertainment and leisure in a unique proposition for the city."
The tranformation of the Granada Studios site is an eight year project which is based around The Factory - a major arts centre which received £78m of funding from the government.
In the 2015 budget this week Chancellor George Osborne announced £2.2bn worth of help to home buyers in the form of a new 'Help to Buy' ISA.
The move has been welcomed as a boost to the construction industry as well as those looking to buy a new home.
Provided a Conservative government is elected in May, this autumn will see the introduction of the new Help to Buy ISA, which is designed to help people saving for a deposit for a new house.
The government will support the new ISA with a contribution of £50 to the home buyer for every £200 they save, up to a maximum of £3,000 towards the deposit on a new home. It is estimated that this assistance could add up to around £2.2bn over the next parliament.
The unexpected announcement came towards the end of the budget statement. It was also confirmed that the deposit savings scheme wouldn't be limited to new-build homes.
A Home Builders' Federation spokesperson commented: "Anything that encourages people to save and helps people getting the deposit they need is positive. We all know the huge problems people have in saving the deposits required."
An energy saving project by the government, which would involve installing smart energy meters in every home and business in the UK by 2020, is at risk as a result of "technical, logistical and public communication issues", a group of MPs has warned.
The smart meters provide a host of information about energy use, allowing users to discover which appliances are contributing the most to their bills. A smart meter in every home and business could lead to overall energy savings of around £17bn and remove the need for estimated bills.
However, the Energy and Climate Change Committee have said that an important piece of the £11bn programme's infrastructure has fallen behind schedule.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the Committee, said: "This committee first looked at this programme in 2013, highlighting issues which we urged the government to address.
"While some progress has been made since then, it's not enough.
"The energy industry told us that it needs the government to enable industry wide solutions, rather than the less efficient alternative of letting each energy supplier develop its own solution."
Many homes already have smart meters provided by their energy company.
Claire Maugham, director of communications at Smart Energy GB, told BBC Radio 5 live that the introduction of smart meters needed more independent input, and more support may need to be provided to help people to become familiar with this new technology.