The ‘London look’, but in a Cork suburb

Mulberry Lane is a block of five top-end, three-storey townhouses on Curraheen Road, all done in a ‘London style’, says Tommy Barker.

Pictures: John Roche

MODELLED on what’s described as “a London style of townhouse” are five, tall, three-storey detached houses on a corner site in Cork city’s western suburbs, with a top-notch showhouse opening — finally — this weekend.

Called Mulberry Lane, and set on the Curraheen Road, where Bishopstown links to the N22 South Ring Road, the townhouses were initially marketed, from plans, nearly 18 months ago.

Various delays slowed progress (the developers aren’t the only ones in Cork mentioning a certain water company as frustratingly laborious). But, now it’s the last stage of Mulberry Lane’s route to market: one’s sold already, and the other four are individually priced, from €495,000 to €550,000, with a finely finished showhouse, No 3, in the very middle. It is replete with aspirational designer labels, and clothing and shoeboxes in the master suite’s dressing room, reflecting the mid/upper market level pitch of these buys.

It’s the first multi-unit development done in the city by developers Better Built Homes, headed by Daniel Finnegan, whose track record has been upmarket, one-off homes, mostly in and around his Mallow base, and designer on-board for this sophisticated, many-shades-of-grey show home is Jean O’Donovan, also of Better Built Homes.

Appropriately, a decor motif is a series of B&W photographic prints, of polo teams and top-hatted Edwardian-era gentlemen on horses: there’s even a slight ‘top-hat’ look to Mulberry Lane’s jaunty exterior facades, with distinctive, flat-topped dormer brims on otherwise slate roofs.

Original design was by O’Shea Leader, but the Better Built Homes duo say they added more aesthetic details — such as window mouldings, bay trim and glazing small panes— as their plans for the site progressed, while quality finish intention is signalled clearly by the use of cut limestone as trim for the tops of perimeter walls, on the entrance pillars, and the steps down to the paved section by the house’s unusual, double front doors.

The location is on the corner entrance to the Curraheen estate, opposite Halldene and near the diminutive Two Pot river/stream, which feeds down to the Curraheen river and onwards to the Lee. Also nearby are amenity walks and playing fields.

Mulberry Lawn is built on the former corner-set grounds of a private house, Rosefield, facing the Curraheen Road, and which went for sale a number of years ago, pretty much pitched as a development site.

The Price Register shows Roseview selling in 2015, for €205,000, and Better Built Homes’ first intention was to build two replacement houses on the south-aspected plot.

However, City Hall planners indicated they wanted a higher density, hence this fistful of five three-storey detached houses, with compact, front private spaces and reserved car park spaces to the back, beyond each house’s private garden; they’re reached via an access-point electric gate by the start of the Curraheen Estate (each house has two reserved, off-street parking spaces behind), and there’s currently a bus stop right in front of No 3.

Curiously, given planners’ wishes to up the density here, from two houses to five new-builds, Mulberry Lane’s about to get a new neighbour, immediately on its city/Bishopstown side, and it’s a whopper of a one-off, individual home, which appears to be the size of at least a couple of these five.

Sizes at Mulberry Lane range from 1,786 sq ft (166 sq m) to 2,055 sq ft (191 sq m), and those bookending the five have attractive, two-storey, square bay windows, a feature at ground level in the kitchen/dining room, and above in one of the first-floor bedrooms.

No 4’s been sold, and No 1 (with side/gable bay windows) is priced at €510,000, while, next door, No 2’s priced at €495,000. No 3, the show unit, isn’t priced right now, while the very largest, No 5, with a much deeper kitchen/diner, and a bigger garden, with enclosed parking, is priced at €550,000: for those with a generous budget, it’s going to be the one to go for.

Selling agents are Sheila O’Flynn and Johnny O’Flynn, of Sherry FitzGerald, and they reckon the buyer profile is going to be families trading up/trading in, and those relocating to Cork.

With ever more consultants headed to the CUH, in Wilton, as well as the proximity of Marymount, and the talk of a new dental hospital and possibly a second acute hospital campus in the western suburbs, it’s more than racing possibility that one or more of the buyers here will be a medic.

Or, an academic? Bishopstown has always held a spot for this ilk, be it from UCC or CIT, which is closest, while the proximity of the south city ring road (less than 1km away) will also put in on a wider catchment map. Might there be some slight competition from the next phase of upmarket and contemporary houses to launch (via Savills) at Earls Well, further afield and west, at Waterfall?

Putting best feet forward now is the show home launch, today, from 12pm to 1pm, and again on Wednesday, December 5th, from 1pm to 2pm, and both dates can expect to be busy.

(There’s still only been a handful of new development showhouses in Cork suburbs post-recovery, with other ‘main’ events including Rosefield, on the Model Farm Road (the old Nangles site, selling via Barry Auctioneers) and, most recently, Aylesbury, in Ballintemple, next to Cork Con (selling via Savills), while the launch of a funky, colourful showhome at Macroom’s Meadowlands, which featured here two weeks ago, appears to be translating into about a half-dozen starter home sales, via Global Properties.

On Mulberry Lane’s design front, Jean O’Donovan opted for a sort of luxe, timeless ‘sophisticated’, grown-up look, with lots of wood-panelled walls in some bedrooms, the guest loo, and in the two sitting rooms, one at ground and another at first-floor level.

Each house type has two first-floor bedrooms, side by side to the rear, plus main bathroom with shower, as well as a full-width front reception room with bay window, and the top floor has two further bedrooms, each en suite, fore and aft, with box dormers.

Visually distinctive in the show

unit, No 3, is the extensive use of wood-paneled walls in Colourtrend shades of greys, the abundance of framed and grouped mirrors, and the flooring, a mix of carpets (from Sless), tiles (Delforo and JMR Mallow), and wood-block, from Munster Flooring, Blackpool.

The houses have dark-grey, framed Munster Joinery triple glazing, with colour-matched fibreglass trim to the bays.

Heating at ground level is underfloor and via rads upstairs.

They get an A2 BER, and heat source is a mix of electric air-to-water heat pump, combined with a gas boiler, being promoted by Gas Networks Ireland, as new-build regs move towards more exacting NZEB (near-zero emissions) standards.

Described as a new hybrid heating system, it’s done by Ballyvourney-based Firebird Heating Solutions, controlled by a central management system for most cost-effective operation for heating, water, and, of course, gas for cooking. More ‘traditional’ buyers here may also have the option of a gas fire, though there’s none in the showhouse.

Fitted in No 3 is a pale high-end kitchen (and bedrooms’ built-ins) from David Lane Kitchens, and buyers get a €10,000 PC sum for a kitchen of their choice: the PC sum is €12k for the larger, No 5, which also has a tiling allowance of €3,500, up from the €3,000 sum in the smaller builds, and all have €2,000 PC sums for wardrobes.

Large sliding doors from the kitchen/dining back wall overlook fully walled-in back gardens, with a glazed door to a slight utility room extension off the kitchen side. Most family, day-to-day access will be via this back entrance, given the link to the paired parking slots over the back wall and gate.

Houses here will have annual management charges of €550, which is a fraction of what you’d imagine will be savings on a A2 BER-rated home, compared to that of similar-sized, older stock in the greater Bishopstown hinterland on a cold, and frosty morning.”

VERDICT: Don’t beat around the Mulberry bush

Get the look

Some great ideas for you to use in your home and where to get them...

  1. Tall and top-hatted, these Mulberry Lane townhouses have living rooms at both ground and first floor levels, with particular attention paid to facade trim and details. Note too the top window sections with small panes for a bit of extra distinction. Front doors are doubles, a nice touch, but they may work better in a less publicly visible setting
  2. Hold your horses: a luxe look like this needn’t cost a fortune. The framing wall trim is MDF, fixed to the plastered walls and painted up to match. It could be a relatively easy DIY project at home?
  3. Mirror, mirror, on the ....door? This mirrored internal door in the guest WC opens to reveal a hidden plant room and store, under the stairs. Kids will love it too
  4. Take the time to go large with decorative and even functional display items. This oversized clock finds its own time has come
  5. Baths are making a comeback, what with lower heating charges, and busy lives. This one is snuck into a top floor en suite and box window section (see ceiling slope) yet still has standing room head height at the shower end
  6. Air to water units plonked outside cut energy costs: but, there’s a market for anyone coming up with ways to camouflague them

Location: Curraheen, Cork

Price: €495,000-€550,000

Size: 166 to 191 sq m (1,776 to 2,055 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4

BER: A3


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