Returning to where it all began – Debbie and Martin Vowles downsize to a Weston Homes apartment at Gun Hill Park, Aldershot

Debbie and Martin Vowles have recently purchased a home in Weston Homes £60 million (GDV) Hampshire development, Gun Hill Park – the former Cambridge Military Hospital where their daughter Lesley was born.At the time of Debbie and Martin’s daughters’ birth 34 years ago, the hospital provided maternity services for the surrounding community, including the nearby market town of Farnham where the couple were living. Now the hospital itself has been reborn as Gun Hill Park, a Weston Homes development of 140 new and meticulously converted houses and apartments in an impressive 12-acre site. The couple – whose first introduction to the now-familiar building was when Debbie was rushed in to give birth to the first of three daughters – have found the ideal house here to enjoy a semi-retired lifestyle to the full, now that their girls have flown the nest.Of palatial proportions and with a landmark clocktower, Cambridge Military Hospital was opened in 1879.   It was world-renowned, received injured soldiers from the Western Front and was much-visited by royalty. It went on to become a centre of national excellence.  In 2019 Weston Homes bought the site and, with impressive architectural vision and a small army of stonemasons and expert builders, set about the conversion project, retaining and repairing as many original features as possible.

It was one of these remarkable heritage features that stole Debbie’s heart. The entire front of their new home has an almost heraldic romance about it. It has two loggias – long and wide balconies of golden stone stacked one on top of the other, each held up by four pillars. The bottom balcony, now enclosed, forms the roomy entrance hall of the couple’s home, leading on to their two ground-floor en suite bedrooms. Upstairs, the drawing room has double doors opening to the second, picturesque balcony and magnificent views beyond. This lovely space is where you will find Debbie most days.When they saw the house that would become their new home, expertly crafted from one of the former hospital wards, they decided it was “the one”.  Martin says, “This home ticked all the boxes. We wanted a smaller house so we could lock up and go travelling, a garden, separate kitchen, a balcony and a view. We did a lot of house hunting but this had it all. We could not get in to look at it, as it was going to be a show house. It had scaffolding all over it but we could see it. We knew it was our house.”

Debbie said “It appealed to me immediately. There was so much grandeur. We loved the quality of everything on offer, and the area, too, but most of all it was a perfect commute to London. All our daughters are in London and we wanted to be near them. We can walk to the station and be there 50 minutes later, and they can come to Sunday lunch and go back in the evening. That makes a huge difference to our lives.”

Meanwhile, a six-minute train ride takes the couple into Farnham when they fancy eating out close to home. As Martin says: “The train fare is cheaper than the car park.”Debbie and Martin definitely wanted a new home and the couple were thrilled with the range of choices on offer to personalise their home, right down to the kitchen door handles, while Martin, the cook in this household, was spoiled with two ovens.  The couple were both impressed by all the luxurious kitchen goods that came included in the price.

Debbie especially loves the fitted wardrobe in the bedroom and the designer mirror in the downstairs loo. “There is so much we have not had to buy. When the girls come to stay they say it is like living in a luxurious hotel.”

Gun Hill Park offers another huge advantage, in the shape of a growing new community. Martin says, “We had lived in Dorset miles from neighbours. Now we have so many friendly neighbours to meet in our little courtyard. We have all moved in together and begun new lives and we are all so different. There are young families, couples, retired people, single people.

“We visit each other’s houses and chat about shutters and curtains. We have a WhatsApp group. With such massively high ceilings at 14ft, we sometimes need a ladder. But one neighbour has the ladder and we borrow it. At Christmas we all had drinks and we share address books – our electrician has got seven more jobs on now.” Many of the older couples and singles enjoy travelling and neighbours here look after each other’s property when they are away.All apartments at Gun Hill Park feature open plan kitchen and living areas, providing a central hub for relaxing and entertaining, with nearly all apartments featuring a private terrace or balcony.  Kitchens are equipped with integrated fridge/freezer, washer/dryer and dishwasher, with energy saving ceramic hobs. These products have been chosen for their energy and water efficiency to help reduce CO2, waste and running costs. At Gun Hill Park buyers have the choice of quartz stone kitchen worktops and a wide range of designer Oakwood Kitchen units as well as flooring, bathroom cabinetry and tiling (subject to the stage of construction).

Homes at Gun Hill Park start from £287,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, £315,000 for a two-bedroom apartment and £395,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.  Houses are priced from £435,000 for a three-bedroom property and £565,000 for a four-bedroom property.


How can we help you?
Do you have a question? Get in touch with our friendly team today.