Feeling like a cross between a Hollywood set, The Prisoner, The Truman Show and some soulless gated community in a posh part of Los Angeles is the Lower Mill Estate, located in the heart of the Cotswolds.
Billed as a collection of “stunning contemporary lakeside second homes,” the development is made up of a variety of upmarket houses built around artificial lakes created from abandoned quarry workings.
Here’s how the website describes the Lower Mill Estate:
In the heart of the Cotswolds there is a place where you and your family can safely live in a vibrant community. You can play immersed in nature at its purest, yet with a level of style and luxury never seen before in such a deep rural setting…
Exclusive, private villages committed to ecological best practice, with wonderful facilities, a luxury family spa plus over 550 acres of pure countryside to roam at will.
The pictures don’t really sure how weird the place is: everything is picture perfect, the streets clean, the grass verges are neatly clipped and the air is clean but there’s no one about.
It’s like a slab of Hampstead dropped into the countryside with big metal gates keeping out all the oiks, leaving a bland landscape of characterless, shameless, not-for-the-likes-of-you luxury.
I won’t predictably rant on about the obscenity of these kind of places being built when so many people are homeless or living in dreadful housing. Instead, I’ll let you decide how you feel about this statement on their website:
NB. Please note that the vacation homes may not be occupied in the period 6th January to 5th February each year as they holiday homes and not principal places of residence. You must have a first home in order to buy one of our properties.
Luxury villas surround tranquil lakes. These second home properties go for in excess of £400,000.
Patrolled by 24 hour security guards, the development boasts a shop “stocked with essentials and luxuries, and a new café for those life-giving cappuccinos,” while a private ‘family spa’ offers outdoor and heated pools, a steam room, a sauna, a technogym, a library and a’ restful’ residents’ lounge – all protected by those big electronic gates.
It’s rare that a place leaves me speechless, but this place did.
34 Comments on “The weirdness of the Lower Mill Estate: a gated, second-home Cotswold ‘community’”
These are mainly holiday homes and perhaps you should visit during a weekend when lots of families and friends get together and enjoy what Lower Mill has to offer. You obviously did not go out into the nature reserve!
We own a home at Lower Mill and it has changed our lives.
So you’ve no problem with all these homes lying empty in the week, though?
Anyone owning one of these places should be ashamed of themselves. It’s morally bankrupt.
What a myopic view. Surely providing those people (and like it or not there are 300,000 or more of them in the UK) seeking second homes with a purpose built alternative stops them from buying first homes that can be used to house people NEEDING a home?”
Sounds wonderful! Well said Tim.@Tim
There has always been, and will always be, rich and poor. Maybe a sad fact, but that shouldn’t stop people spending their money how they want to. If its that the homes could be housing the poor or homeless, then campaign to your local mp, or give up your own home and live in a tent. Byt whats the big problem with those who are well off enough being able to have a country retreat?@Richard Mitton
Emma: what’s wrong with staying at good old fashioned B&Bs and supporting the local community rather than investing in your own security-guard-patrolled, gated weekend retreat?
I have a problem with the wealthy fencing themselves off from everyone else. That’s how ghettos start.
I bet that whoever is complaining about this wonderful example of modern architecture married to ecology is doing so on their sun powered laptop made from recycled milk cartons! O spare me this type of whining hypocrisy.”
Editor: There is nothing wrong with staying at a good old fashioned B&Bs and there is nothing wrong with owning a holiday home in a gated development.
I reckon we storm the gates and squat them whilst they’re empty.
Emma: could you explain exactly what it is you like about gated developments, please?
It looks like Peterborough.
I wonder if the Editor has actually been? We went recently and loved it and have booked a weekend away there in Nov…. I don;t see what the problem is with nature, beautiful architecturally designed homes and a bit of fresh air…. its completely different to staying in a B and B
Hello? How do you think I took the photos, Emmie?
Yes, I was there and stayed overnight, passing by the rows of criminally empty luxury holiday homes.
This place needs burning, along with all the societal predators paid proctectors within.
Raze it and provide fertiliser for returning the place to nature.
And exactly what benefit would ‘burning’ this place have ? needlessly destroying peoples properties who will then only buy up other ‘second homes’ elsewhere. Yes, it is a shame that these are just holiday homes and that a proper living community couldnt have been built which provided local housing and local jobs, BUT, it does provide for a need which is perhaps better serviced here by a company that at least does care about wildlife management and habitat creation. For all the negatives about this place (and yes I do agree with a lot of the points made, and yes, I have stayed here), for a development like this, it has been done with genuine care and thought about the environment that it is built in, unlike a lot of new developments and even so-called eco-towns which are anything but. So please, less of the knee jerk reactions, and more considered thoughts about why these places exists and what the alternatives might be.
Editor says:What’s wrong with staying at good old fashioned B&Bs and supporting the local community rather than ..
The users of these estates (and there are lots of “holiday home” type estates) do directly support the local community. Think of the people employed on the estate to run the facilities, build these houses, clean these houses, cut the grass etc – they are all locals. Almost all visitors to the estate go to the local villages, shops, pubs etc. All owners of the properties pay council tax or business rates in the local area AND don’t use local schools, GPs, rubbish collection etc.
On all of these estates including LME, many houses are rented out for holidays, so in fact anyone can visit if they are in the lucky position they can afford a foreign holiday (which for some reason people beleive is a god given right) they could save money by visting such an estate and support the UK economy. (Google “lower mill estate holiday” and look at the tariffs)
In fact, the many people with holiday homes abroad are the ones that are not supporting the UK communities. Recent estimates say there are about 120000 british nationals resident in Spain but there are about 600000 properties owned in Spain by brits. So thats 480000 holiday homes, just in Spain.
PS, if you raze it and all the other holiday home estates in the area, nature will return it to being a gravel pit, and there will be a huge increase in local unemployment.
Lower Mill Estate (where I have stayed twice, and recently bought my own holiday home there) is a wonderful place – beautiful, relaxing, stunning buildings. How can anyone object to such a lovely place? True, not everyone can afford a second home there, but then not everyone can afford a lot of things – are we really going to say that no one should treat themselves to anything unless everyone in the world can also afford it?
Hi if you ever need a cleaner for your holiday home then please call me on. 07956662383
Kind regards sarah
Not a good place for arachnophobes though…I’ve been staying here this week and lost count of the number of huge spiders that constantly came into the house. Probably due to the lakes supporting a large insect population.
Off to LME today – second visit. Excellent place and very popular with Londoners wanting to escape the city.
Thank the Lord for places such as this to shield decent people from the tattooed, shirtless halfwits of the usual ‘family’ holiday resort. I can afford it and thoroughly enjoy not spending my hard earned salary mixing with the scrote bags.
Seb: What a nasty little troll you are. Be off!
I wrote about this dystopian hellhole in 2009: http://alcockart.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/ballardsville.html
I work at this place and as part of the team that looks after the grounds, its only the people who haven’t GOT the back bone to give it a go that hate… its not JUST a second home resort, its there for all to try and as far as most of the feedback your just a few that can’t take 2 seconds off your digital world to realise there is more to life and for that I’m sorry!!! Get a life…. you got a problem with this message come see me at lower mill estate the names mark thomas and bring your towel because your going in the lake. X
And by the way Seb Mullholland iv’e got tatooes and don’t have much money but thats not whats its about, grow the fuck up
You’re telling people to ‘grow up’ after you’ve just threatened to ‘throw them in the lake’?
LOL. Look out The Internet! There’s a Keyboard warrior on the loose!
I wonder what useless occupation paid for these second homes. Still, at least the locals can pay for their daily bread by cleaning up after the surplus wankers. Sleep tight in your vibrant community, safe in the knowledge that if any undesirables manage to sneak in you can get sparky (lol) to throw them in the lake.
Well said Sparky! I am off there next week. We can’t afford a holiday abroad with our brood but this looks great. From what I hear, everyone who has hired homes for weeks or weekends there has loved it. It’s very affordable and cheaper than Centre Parcs. I can’t wait.
Affordable, you say? According to their own site, there are several properties – and these are HOLIDAY HOMES don’t forget – going for the hugely affordable price of £695,000.
The cheapest property currently advertised is just under a quarter of million. Unbelievably affordable for a vacation home, eh?
The council stipulates these are second homes and in fact some people who tried to live in a similar development were chucked out. The idea being I assume that it avoids second homers buying up the local housing stock and pushing up prices so locals can no longer afford them, as has happened in places such as cornwall. I suspect the person who wrote this went midweek in winter.
Fiona: the photos were taken on a weekend in September.
I have family who own a house in LME and have stayed there numerous times. I absolutely despised it at first – thinking of it as a segregated Stepford style ghetto. But I have had some lovely stays there and I think it has become more vibrant over the years.
I really don’t think that the appeal for the majority is based on exclusivity, rather the opportunity to have a manageable and easily maintained second home in the Cotswolds. Obviously you can argue til the cows come home against people buying second homes at all – but its slightly irrelevant as they are at liberty to invest as they wish and will continue to do so. In my opinion there are huge merits in providing new build properties for second home buyers. They have less effect on local house prices and I would rather these purpose built houses lay empty for a month of the year than an entire Cotswold/Cornwall (etc) village doing so.
The rental prices of these properties are reasonable, and though I understand the benefits of staying at a B&B, its not always feasible. For young families, renting a house anywhere is a far more straightforward and flexible option. And the proximity of the facilities at LME make everything very convenient.
Of course there will always be snobs and I’ve seen a fair few round here, but it has grown into a nice community and there are some lovely houses.
PS I agree the marketing is completely repugnant and off point. Such an old fashioned sales pitch.