Excellent ROI
Home > News & Publications > News > Recent News

Eco-Friendly Office Conversion Wins Seeda Award

21 January 2008

A farm building conversion in Cranbrook, Kent incorporating some of the latest energy saving technology, has won a £40,000 grant from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

With the help of the grant, the redundant apple store at CG & SA Levett’s Hartley Dyke Farm, on the edge of Cranbrook, is being converted into the latest in energy saving office accommodation.

The apple store was built in the 1960’s as controlled atmosphere stores for Hartley Dyke Farm’s fruit crops, but was in substantial need of modernisation to enable fruit to be stored to today’s supermarket standards.

Partners Chris and Sheenagh Levett, in conjunction with their accountant Nick Holmes of Chavereys, decided that investment in new orchards was a priority over refurbishing the existing storage facilities. To finance new plantings, they investigated increasing the farm’s income by converting the old apple store and contacted Darryl Barber of Bracketts, commercial agents in Tunbridge Wells, for guidance. His advice was that demand for high quality offices in the area was strong. “Hartley Dyke enjoys a superb location for offices. There is also a shortage of offices with private off-road parking in the area," he advised.

With energy costs rising very rapidly, reducing carbon footprint was a major priority in the design. The use of carbon fuels will be minimised in the building with insulation to ensure heat loss is kept to a minimum and heat pump technology incorporated to extract heat from outside and convert it into warm air inside, providing full central heating. By reversing the system, the heat pump will also provide air conditioning during the summer. An intelligent heat saving system will also be built into the design which extracts the heat from the stale air being removed and returns it to the fresh air being introduced. The lighting and ventilation systems in the WCs and storerooms will all be controlled by sensors so there is no danger of any lights or fans being left on by mistake, keeping heating and lighting costs to a minimum.

Chris, Sheenagh and Nick decided to contact SEEDA’s farm diversification department to see if any financial assistance with the project was available. SEEDA’s Rural Grants Manager Anne Higham says; “I was very impressed with Chris and Sheenagh’s commercial approach to the project, in particular the environmental consideration given to the conversion, and also the fact that they involved their marketing agent right from the outset.

"SEEDA is very pleased to be involved with this project, which will not only help the farm continue to develop by planting new orchards but will also contribute to the local economy in Cranbrook."

In deciding to name the new offices Chris and Sheenagh felt it was important to maintain a connection with the former use of the building as an apple store. "We were looking for a name that was unique to the English fruit industry,” Sheenagh says. “So we have called the new offices after the classic English cooking apple which we regularly stored in the building, and it will be known as Bramley House. We feel it will preserve the history of the farm for our grandchildren."

Bramley House offices will be available for rent early in 2008.

For more information, please contact -

Darryl Barber at Bracketts

Tel: 01892 533733

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155