Leaving London: ‘We swapped poor air quality and the Blackwall Tunnel for a modular townhouse near Cambridge’

Lawrence Zeegan, age 58, and Rebecca Wright (49), lived happily and comfortably in a three-bedroom, three storey townhouse in Greenwich with their five year-old daughter Zoe. The pandemic struck and they decided to move out of London. Lawrence explains that their daughter’s health was one of the main contributing factors. “The air quality in Greenwich doesn’t look great, and we knew that our property was not far from all the traffic from Blackwall Tunnel. Rebecca adds that she had always hoped to move out of London in the future, perhaps in five to ten years. We began to wonder what was in our future when the pandemic struck. “When Covid restrictions were lifted in summer 2020, the entire family drove to nearby cities to check out what was available. Lawrence was later diagnosed with cancer. Rebecca says, “We were very housebound, more than we might have been if Lawrence hadn’t been recovering.” “But it was a great help to us and made it a goal to find the right place for us as a family. “READ MOREEscape from country: High running expenses force families to sell stately homes in Wales or Scotland. London: ‘After 27 year Brexit, I made the decision to move to France and buy a French chestnut farm.’ Leaving London: We left London because of air pollution. We love our new home at the South Downs. Their top priority was being commutable distance from the capital. Rebecca works in King’s Cross, while Lawrence was in Greenwich at that time. Both needed easy access to the capital. They wanted to be close for social reasons. Rebecca says that while the pandemic did not make them fall in love with London, it did make them more determined to decide what they needed as a family. Cambridge was chosen because the couple wanted to be close. “We both work in design education in universities,” says Rebecca. “Being a university city, Cambridge felt really alive. It has a vibrant, international, young, and ambitious feel. “You also have the Science Park and biotech businesses that are attracting people who are part the future. We didn’t want London life to be our retreat, nor did we desire a quieter lifestyle. We just wanted a new life. “Disappointed with the housing stock in central Cambridge, they found a new development by House in Inholm Northstowe. This new town is 12 miles north of the city. Lawrence says, “We wanted to find unconventional properties that would allow us to live in a different way and allow us to invest on interesting architecture.” “Northstowe and House By Urban Splash immediately appealed to us and we paid a reservation fee for our three-bedroom, three storey Town House home with a view of the waterpark. We moved in on the first weekend of September 2020. “The family purchased a three-storey townhouse in Inholm near Cambridge for GBP600,000. / HandoutThe couple bought Inholm for GBP600,000. The GBP2,000 plot reservation fee was non-refundable if they did not proceed. It was deducted from the final price. Lawrence says that the homes were designed with an emphasis on space, natural light, and adaptability. They were designed to be places where you can live and grow old. Rebecca says that the house is modular and adaptable so that our family can change the layout as needed. It is also much more efficient to operate than a typical new build. It’s a responsible and enjoyable way to live. Rebecca has found her commute to London, even though it is longer, much more enjoyable since she moved in December last year. She travels to London twice or three times a week using the guided busway that connects the Inholm scheme to Cambridge North station. It’s then a one-hour train ride to King’s Cross. From there, it’s only five minutes walk to work. A season ticket for Cambridge North to King’s Cross costs GBP5,592. A flexi season ticket costs GBP331.10 and allows for eight-day passes. GBP16.80 is the cost of a five-day guided busway ticket flexi ticket. “My journey is less stressful and I always manage get a seat, so the amount of time spent travelling is so much better than when I used be commuting from Greenwich to work,” she said. However, he was offered a new job that requires him to drive 100 miles to Birmingham City University twice per week. He used to cycle less than 10 minutes to Greenwich. The family moved to a house near the Blackwall Tunnel to a property overlooking the new Cambridge development. / Handout “My eco-credentials have changed.” “I now drive to Birmingham Monday morning, stay over, return Tuesday evening, and sometimes come back in on a Thursday or Friday. They love their new life in Cambridge and don’t regret moving. Rebecca says that she bought a house at the edge of the development, with views overlooking a lake. The water park offers lots of seating, bike paths, and picnic areas. Urban Splash also hosts a series to help people get to know each other. There is a playground, a shared garden and communal bike sheds. Zoe can also enjoy the shade from the viewing platform. The family enjoys the more relaxed lifestyle, and they feel that a close group of people is already being formed. Lawrence says, “These are things we value and want be a part.” We are enjoying long family walks, the feeling of openness and space both outside and inside our beautiful new home. We look forward to making new friends and settling down here. “For more information about the development at Inholm, Northstowe, visit housebyurbansplash.co.uk