A Christmas toast to a great year at Lower Mill

Immerse yourself
We take a look back at some of the highlights of 2015 and look forward to the New Year with excitement and anticipation

To one and all a very merry Christmas, here we raise a glass of festive mulled wine to what has been stellar year for all involved with Habitat First Group.

2015 has seen some of the most exciting developments in Lower Mill Estates burgeoning history and next year looks set to bring further improvements to enhance the lives of our residents for years to come.

This year saw the opening of the Ballihoo Restaurant & Clubhouse, a much anticipated addition to the Lower Mill community where families can enjoy quality time and delicious food together served with a smile in a cosy environment. Seasonal local produce and heart warming service are the hallmarks that make Ballihoo such a wonderful place to spend time with loved ones.

Millstone park continues to mature and 2016 will see the addition of a brand new tennis court and the inception of our family tree project which will give residents the opportunity to purchase a tree and watch it grow as they make memories to last a lifetime.

We are now nearing the completion of the first of our The Habitat House designs overlooking Spinney Lake which are proving to be even more beautiful than anticipated in the flesh. The combination of the Cotswold stone spine wall, cedar cladding and wildflower roof make for an aesthetically stunning piece of architecture.

Our brand new entrance way will be finished very early next year which will take residents past our brand new Water Gardens and Habitat Houses on Spinney Lake creating a breathtaking approach into the site. A sentry box at the gate will be manned at busy times to direct guests to their properties and minimise fuss upon arrival.

This year has also seen the start of our biggest ever project to date, Minety Lake. The excavation team have been hard at work all year digging what will be our largest residential lake and we are very pleased to announce that we have already sold three units in the North Eastern corner to homeowners with a lot of imagination and an eye for future potential.

2015 has been a strong year for sales with all areas of the team excelling and beating their collective targets. It has been a record breaking year for sales who have sold more re-sale properties than ever before and Habitat Escapes who have taken their most holiday bookings ever in one calendar year. We always look to inspire confidence from our residents and we continue to show year on year that buying a property at Lower Mill Estate is a fantastic investment that is built to last.

For the last twenty years Lower Mill has managed to achieve that very delicate balance of pushing the boundaries of contemporary architecture whilst maintaining our ecological efforts and allowing the wildlife in our Nature Reserve to thrive, our wins at the 2015 What House Awards in the Best Development and Best House categories were welcome recognition of the groups continued hard work and dedication.

Once again we wish all of our residents a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016.

Seasons greetings

The Paxton Family

On Friday 20th November the annual What House Awards honouring the best house builders and new home developments in the UK took place in London and it was another very successful night for Habitat First Group, winning awards in two of the most coveted and sought after categories:

Silver in the best Development category

Bronze in the best house category for our innovative Water Garden design

The entire team at Habitat First have worked tirelessly this year in their pursuit of excellence and we are very proud to be recognised by the UK’s leading new homes portal; we hope that these are the first of many more awards on the horizon in the future.

Red Paxton, one-third of the Paxton family who own Habitat First, attended the awards ceremony on Friday night and said “We are over the moon that the hard work and dedication of all of the staff at Habitat First is being recognised in such a way and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the team for making this year such a resounding success.” He also added “We have some very exciting plans for the future at both Lower Mill Estate and Silverlake and we cannot wait to continue to share our vision of a sustainable vacation home community with the world”

We are very proud to feature in the December 2015 issues of Tatler, Vogue and GQ magazine.

The detailed article offers a unique, personal insight into Habitat First Group and the key philosophies that drive us forward in everything we do – Family, Ecology & Architecture.

Our Owner, Red Paxton, speaks openly and honestly about what motivates him to succeed, working with his siblings in the family business and his very exciting plans for the future.

Lower Mill continues to expand and improve with our continued investment in infrastructure, facilities, ecology and ground-breaking architecture. This year we have had added no less than nineteen new families to the Lower Mill Estate community and we couldn’t be happier.

If you would like to visit us for a private tour of our 550 acre nature reserve, currently available plots and latest show home designs please feel free to give us a call on 01285869489.

We are very pleased to announce that our innovative, eco-friendly house design the Water Garden has been nominated for the prestigious Best House award at this years What House Awards to be held in London later this year.

The Water Garden, designed by architect Andy Ramus, is one of our most efficient designs combining flexible, open plan living with great connectivity to the outdoors including a full length roof terrace accessed internally by an electronic glass roof. Built via SIPS (structurally insulated panels) construction this design comes with an air source heat pump, heat recovery system and underfloor heating enabling energy costs to be kept to a minimum.

We are absolutely over the moon to have made the shortlist for this much coveted award and are very pleased to be in the company of some other amazing, groundbreaking designs.

The Water Garden has proved to be one of our most popular designs since its release in 2014 and we already have seven properties completed here at Lower Mill with three more well into the construction process.

If you would like to come and view our Water Garden show home and see what makes this critically acclaimed home so special please call 01285 869 489 or pop in to the Lower Mill Sales Barn to arrange an appointment.

The Lower Mill Estate Grounds Team have outdone themselves once again with the construction of a brand new boat launch in the North West corner of Somerford Lagoon. This now gives residents and rental guests a more convenient point of access to the lake that does not impose on the privacy of any properties in Mill Village and Clearwater.

Somerford Lagoon is an ideal body of water for splashing around in a canoe, kayak or small sailing boat. At 74 acres, it is our largest lake and offers a variety of conditions and depths that provide the novice and more experienced canoeist ample scope to enjoy themselves. It also gives residents a chance to take a closer look at some of the nesting wildfowl we have on the lake and enjoy a stunning view across the nature reserve whilst floating atop the crystal clear water. The lake is home to a myriad of plant and animal life, the latter of which can be observed less intrusively from the surface of the water.

We have a wonderful relationship with Family Adventure Store, who are a family owned business just like ourselves, and they have everything you could possibly need for a great day out on the water available for hire next to the Mill Village General Store. FAS have been running a very successful “paddling capers” course from the Somerford boat launch this summer offering children of all ages the chance to throw on a life jacket and learn to paddle like the pros with their dedicated, fully qualified instructor Laurie. We’ve had some great feedback from participants and paddling capers will be back next summer to help more children get out on the water in a fun, safe environment.

If you are interested in hiring canoes, kayaks or paddle boards to splash about with on one of our fresh water lakes, please pop down to the Family Adventure Store or give Terry & Jenny a call on 07971 252 394.

The highly anticipated Ballihoo Clubhouse & Restaurant swung open its doors to hungry holiday makers on Friday the 17th July and boy was it worth the wait!

Ballihoo wonderfully encompasses the look, feel and taste of the Cotswolds. Run by our highly acclaimed catering partner McBaile, who have become synonymous with delectable food made with the freshest local produce, the Ballihoo restaurant is the realisation of a vision first put forth by our late founder Jeremy Paxton.

The superstructure was designed and built by our recommended building company Conservation Builders Ltd and was constructed using Eco friendly Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) around an immense solid oak frame; a mixture of traditional timber construction and state of the art energy efficient architecture. The interior was designed and implemented by our very own Ruby Paxton who has achieved a look and feel that ties in perfectly with the Lower Mill Estate way of life.

The menu is inspired by classic Cotswold cuisine with a stylish, contemporary twist. McBaile Executive chef and culinary genius Rod McCormick has designed a comprehensive Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and takeaway menu to ensure that our residents never go hungry, no matter the time of day. There is also a children’s menu full of tasty treats for youngsters and a selection of delicious baked goods made fresh every single day.

We pride ourselves on the level of detail that goes in to our research and development here at Lower Mill, so naturally we have been “researching” the menu extensively and we are now happy to report our findings – Bloody Delicious! If you are looking for a real treat for the taste buds try one of Ballihoo’s homemade stone baked pizzas or the Gloucestershire 28 day dry aged Ribeye steak with hand cut chips, delightful.

John Uzzel has seen it all in his 15 years as a ground worker at Lower Mill Estate and is our longest serving member of staff, what John doesn’t know about the estate really isn’t worth knowing!

John’s story begins all the way back in the ‘60s, when Lower Mill Estate was a far cry from the serene, tranquil nature reserve we all know and love today; during its former life as a gravel quarry John was one of the men charged with collecting and transporting thousands of tonnes of gravel by the lorry-load from our site to build the M4 and M5 motorways. John, his friends and their trusty Ruston-Bucyrus Dragline collected all of the raw material they could muster and inadvertently dug some of the beautiful clear water lakes we all enjoy today.

Fast forward a few decades to 2000 and John begins his 15 year (and counting) association with Lower Mill Estate. One of John’s very first jobs was to help archeologists strip the top soil from Mill Village to see if there were any hidden treasures buried beneath the hallowed turf. Mill Village 14-21 were the first homes to be constructed on the estate and John remembers watching them being built from start to finish. Now, as we near the completion of our latest ground breaking design, The Habitat House, John says he is amazed at how far the development has come and can’t wait to see what we come up with next.

John’s funniest, and incidentally most painful, memory working at Lower Mill came in 2004 when he was transporting some sheep from our nature reserve to a local market with our now Managing Director Will Vicary. John unloaded the sheep when he arrived at the market and turned to lock the trailer behind them, when he turned again he was confronted by a stampede of frightened sheep “baa-baaing” their way back towards the trailer! Something had spooked them and John was a helpless sitting duck. The sheep collided into John’s knee and hurt him quite badly, resulting in quite a few months off work and a rather funny story to tell the grandchildren.

John has loved his time working at Lower Mill and says he hopes it can continue long into the future. He has particularly high praise for our late owner, Jeremy Paxton, who was very helpful throughout John’s injury and allowed him plenty of time to recover with full pay. John is in charge of the maintenance of Mill Village, which is looking better each year and maturing beautifully over time. If you see John around the estate, be sure to say hello and offer a few words of appreciation for the marvelous work he does making Mill Village such a wonderful place to live.

We are very pleased to announce that the Lower Mill Estate Home Owner’s Association have released the schedule of activities for their annual Summer Festival which is to be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend (29th to the 31st of August).

The Summer Festival has built a wonderful reputation as being one of the best events in the Lower Mill calendar and this year promises to be no exception. With a myriad of events for the entire family including tennis tournaments, triathlons, wellie chucking and tug of war; 5-a-side football, fairground stalls, bon fires and much, much more you would be a fool not to come and join in the fun!

To have a look at the full schedule of activities for this years extravaganza pop in to the Estate Office, Mill Village General Store or ArtSpa for more information.

A little wildlife update from Lower Mill Estate’s very own version of Ray Mears, groundsman Bob Iles.

Cygnets are popping up on several lakes around the estate, gracefully drifting behind their mothers in the worlds cutest conga line. Best places to catch a glimpse are Spinney Lake and Howells Mere.

Lyndon Roberts, the ecologist who carries out our environmental surveys, has informed us that the initial count of House Martin nests looks like being slightly down this year, but we have had Nightingales singing in several locations around the estate including Nightingale Walk! If you do see any House Martin nests gathering in the eaves of your property, please don’t be alarmed, they are absolutely gorgeous birds that are very important to our eco-system and their nests do no damage to the buildings at all.

Various waterbirds including Coots, Mallards and Moorhens have young ones to be seen on nearly all the lakes across the nature reserve and Great Crested Grebes are nesting after their elaborate courtship displays.

Orchids are starting to pop up everywhere including the rare and beautiful Bee Orchid and fox cubs have been spotted playing around Swillbrook Lakes.

The Fauna and wildlife across Lower Mill will continue to flourish over these beautiful summer months so get out and explore the nature reserve and enjoy the Cotswold countryside at it’s finest!


June is a wonderful time of year at Lower Mill Estate. Spring has seamlessly drifted into glorious Summer and the estate is engulfed in a deluge of wildlife and nature. What a perfect time to give you an update on the ever evolving beating heart of our community, Millstone Park.

The much sought after “Ballihoo” restaurant is entering its final stage and will be ready to welcome hungry customers in the third week of July. Prepare for rustic gastro cuisine made with the freshest local produce.

It is also wonderful to see that the new 3G artificial turf MUGA court, opened in Autumn 2014, has proved to be very popular indeed. A safe, fun surface for the whole family to enjoy.

Our new and improved Children’s play area continues to buzz with youthful exuberance and our tennis court remains a favourite with residents and guests alike. We have also built a new overflow car park on the southern edge of Millstone Park to resolve any parking issues across the estate and allow everyone to enjoy Summer at Lower Mill in perfect harmony.

The next year will see more exciting development across Millstone Park including our new open picnic area, teenage play area and the Jeremy Paxton memorial garden, which will offer residents the opportunity to sponsor a tree and watch it grow. We hope you enjoy the new facilities.

Rory, Ruby & Red Paxton