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Lockdown brings new neighbours closer together at Newark development

Posted onPosted on 22nd Sep

Firm friendships have been formed at a new housing development in Newark, where neighbours have been brought closer together during lockdown.

The first residents moved in at Ashberry Homes’ Middlebeck development, off Bowbridge Lane, at the end of March, just a week after the Government instructed people to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And those living in the new neighbourhood, which is located at the southern edge of the town, say the shared experience of settling into new surroundings under lockdown has created a strong sense of community among its inhabitants.

Among the first people to arrive at Middlebeck were Michael and Kirsty Topley, both 30, who moved into a three-bedroom semi-detached house with their white westie dog Alfie on 31 March.

Just a few weeks later, on 30 April, Joe and Helen Oxley moved in next door with their three-year old son James, and the two couples quickly formed a close bond.

Joe, who works for a builders merchant in Newark, said: “Our neighbours have been such a great support system throughout lockdown, and the community is one of the main things that makes it feel like home here.

“In our neighbourhood everybody talks to each other, and it’s the small things like that which make it feel like such a safe and relaxing place to live.

“We’ve made great friends with Michael and Kirsty, who welcomed us with a lovely house-warming gift the day we moved in. We’ve been spending time isolating in our new gardens together, and we’ve even shared some lovely barbecues together!”

Michael, who works as a bearing manufacturer in Newark, said: “The development already has an excellent community feel to it. We have very friendly neighbours who are great to chat with, especially Joe and Helen, who have been great to talk to during lockdown. The community even has a Facebook page, which has really helped us to get to know our neighbours.

“Although we’ve moved just down the road, the area feels like a much nicer place to live. There are some really nice walks for Alfie to enjoy, and the cycle track here has helped me to cycle to work more frequently now.”

Michael and Kirsty had previously been living in an older three-bedroom semi-detached property around half a mile away from their new home.

Michael said: “The main reason we moved is because it wasn’t very relaxing – there was always maintenance work to be done.

“Before we moved into our new home here, Kirsty and I thought that we would never be able to afford a new-build house – especially one as spacious as this.

“After we looked at different new-build developments in the area, we found Ashberry and loved the layout of the development and the Heather house-type here suited us perfectly. It has a modern style, unlike our previous house, and we both love the design. Our front room has a very spacious and homely feel – lots of light comes in through the windows which keeps it nice and bright.

“The Ashberry staff handled our lockdown move nicely, and Chrissie the sales advisor was very welcoming and helpful. She gave us frequent updates and let us check in on the progress of our house when we wanted.

“Buying a new-build has really given us peace of mind – there’s no maintenance work and everything has gone so well. Kirsty and I really couldn’t recommend Ashberry enough.”

Joe, 28, and Helen, 33, who previously lived in an older three-bedroom home in the north of the town, decided to look for a bigger property after the birth of their son James.

Joe said: “After driving by the Middlebeck development a number of times, we decided to check it out. We fell in love with the site for its location, and the homes are of a much higher quality than we ever expected.

“Once we checked out the Heather home at Middlebeck we knew we’d found our forever home. We were ecstatic when we finally get our keys!

“The area is great. We’re in a lovely village setting – it has a country feel but it’s just a stone’s throw away from the town, and we’re now closer to handy local amenities, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which are just a couple of miles away.

“A new school is also being built just a few hundred yards away, and we’re hoping to enrol James there once he’s old enough.”

There is currently a range of two, three, and four-bedroom homes available at Middlebeck, with prices starting from £172,995. For more information, visit

Pictured are Joe Oxley (black T-shirt) and Helen Oxley. Middle: Ashberry Homes Eastern Counties assistant site manager Hannah Berry and sales advisor Chrissie Fielding. Right: Michael Topley (grey T-shirt) and Kirsty Topley.