News Archive

Retirement Without Compromise – Luxury Living (and Working) with Audley

Audley Villages, part of the Audley Group, owns a portfolio of 18 luxury retirement villages in the UK. In April 2016 the Group launched its new mid-market proposition Mayfield Villages, a new offering designed to meet a growing need for modern, mainstream retirement accommodation in the UK. Demand for the product is extremely high, driven by the increasing ageing of our population, and Audley Group has ambitious expansion plans to meet this.

We recently caught up with Kevin Hudson, Construction Director at Audley Group to chat all things retirement, residential and kitchens…

1. How long have you worked with Project Kitchens?

Almost 6 years.

2. Tell us about the relationship…

One of the main benefits of working with Project Kitchens is that they really “get” Audley – what we do and the market we’re building properties for. They are forward thinking and anticipate the future needs of our buyers, who are buying a “forever home” but don’t want to compromise on quality.

A luxury SieMatic kitchen conceived by Project Kitchens has all the functionality our customers may require in later years, but does not appear to have any adaptations at all. This may include for example: easy clean and easy to see surfaces, induction hobs for safer cooking and cleaning, slide and hide ovens, and aerated taps to reduce splashing.

Project Kitchens are an integral part of our team and the whole process is seamless, from initial brief through design, account management, project management and installation.

The in-house designers are very good at suggesting optimum layouts for a variety of different apartment/house footprints for the Audley villages. This is especially important for properties within listed buildings, as some of the kitchen spaces can be quite challenging to work with. The SieMatic product has deeper wall units than other brands and the shelf tracking means that there are more flexible options for storage – other brands simply cannot compete with this.

Following the approval of the designs, their project manager works very closely with Audley’s contractors to ensure that installation is well managed and that challenges are overcome together, to ensure that there aren’t any last minute surprises. The installation team understands the importance of a quality finish and as they use the same people regularly, who understand how we work, this results in very few snags during the handover stage.

Project Kitchens’ attention to detail and commitment is unbeatable – they take our team to SieMatic in Germany for training and constantly provide support and advice at every stage.

3. Your views on SieMatic? Does having a premium branded kitchen help sales?

Premium brand kitchens are key to any property, but as we position ourselves at the top of the retirement living sector, it’s even more important. Although some customers may know the brand name “SieMatic”, the most important thing is that the quality and design of the result reflects the standard a potential customer can expect from Audley’s villages.

With regards to the role the kitchens play in selling the properties, we use images of the SieMatic kitchens in much of our marketing material. Our marketing has to achieve a lot of things: promote brand awareness of Audley; explain what a retirement village is and why it’s not the same as a care home or other options in the sector; as well as showing the luxury quality of the villages. To do this, but still show that we’re selling properties – rather than being a hotel or a health club – we use the kitchen images. We also mention the “high quality fitted kitchens with corian worktops and integrated appliances” on all of our floorplans, website and third party property listing websites.

4. Which development has been the most challenging?

We are working on a large number of projects with Project Kitchens, all of which have their own challenges. Audley St George’s Place in Edgbaston, Birmingham was particularly interesting because some of the properties in the final phase were very difficult spaces to design a kitchen for. The development incorporates two Grade II listed Regency Villas and a restored Victorian building Chains Court. The conversions created a wide range of room dimensions and character details to work with.

5. What is the future for Audley?

Founded in 1991, Audley has since established itself as a pioneer in the provision of high quality retirement living. The first Audley village was built fifteen years ago in Kent and today Audley owns a portfolio of eighteen across the country, all at varying stages of development and more in the pipeline.

There is an increasing desire for high quality, aspirational retirement housing options in the UK and we have a responsibility to facilitate this. Now, more than ever, we need to invest and create more of these alternatives, giving older homeowners the opportunity to downsize without compromising their quality of life.

As a result of this growing demand, we are not only developing more units and new villages, but also expanding our model to a broader demographic. In April 2016, we launched Mayfield Villages to complement the already established Audley model and we have recently exchanged contracts with the Watford Riverwell Partnership to develop the first site.

High quality facilities and beautiful, secure properties allow our owners to live in homes they can be proud of. As health needs change over time, dedicated care is also available so that they can continue to live on their own terms, but with the necessary support.

Project Kitchens is proud to work with Audley and we look forward to a continued successful relationship. If you’d like to find out more about our work please contact For information on current Audley retirement villages visit

Grafters Shortlist – Double Nomination

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for not one, but two Grafters awards this year.

100s of companies from the North West of England enter these awards to have their work recognised as the best across the property and construction sectors.

So to be nominated is a real honour and tremendous boost to the Project Kitchens team.

Voting closes on Friday 23 March and we are up for Best Specialist Supplier and Entrepreneur of the Year. The winners are announced at a Glittering Gala Dinner at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester on Thursday 17th May 2018.

Thank you to all our wonderful clients, suppliers and friends who have already voted for us.

Any last minute votes, please click here!

We look forward to seeing many of you at the awards and to celebrate the best of the NW.

How to… work with builders, architects and interior designers

Our Managing Director Belinda Sewell is in the news this week with her ‘How to..’ guide to working with builders, architects and interior designers. Produced by kbb Review for a special edition supplement distributed at kbb Birmingham 2018.

We are very proud to work with some of the best people in the property industry and love helping an architect or interior designer’s vision for a development become a reality.  To find out what we can do for your business email

Click here to download a PDF version of the kbb Review article.

Meet Lizzie Plank-Watson – In-house Designer

Our kitchens always start with design and having the best team in the business is fundamental to our success. So we thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to one of Project Kitchen’s longest standing members of staff Lizzie Plank-Watson.

“Projects are prioritised according to deadline and the amount of work involved” comments Lizzie. “We are briefed by the sales team, so we are first in the chain of work in the office. The estimating team rely on our plans to produce a quote, so it is important that we get them across in plenty of time for them to do their work.

“I love my job because every day is so different. I could be making lots of small amendments, like changing an oven from a tall housing, to a built under, or adding a microwave. Other days we could be starting from scratch on a complex and large development project, or I could be creating a set of visuals for our clients’ marketing brochures, making sure the lighting and textures are just right.

“This afternoon I am drawing up plans for a whole site. Up to now we have designed the concept on three plots. The customer likes what we have done and we need to take the concept though the rest of the scheme now. My favourite sort of job!

“Making a concept that works well in one plot fit into a smaller plot, or one with the window in a different place, without compromising the function or look of the kitchen can be a challenge, but it’s one that I enjoy.

“Designing contract kitchens is a world away from retail kitchens, partly because we are not designing for one specific end user. We need to create a high quality design that works right across a development, meets our client’s high expectations and has broad appeal for a range of potential purchasers.”

Lizzie has been designing kitchens with us for over 15 years and has a detailed understanding of SieMatic’s three concepts – Urban, Classic and Pure. She recently attended an advanced Academy training programme at the SieMatic Academy in Germany, to top up her knowledge and keep abreast of current trends and design concepts.

Every development, particularly where historical buildings with original period features are involved, is always something of a moving feast. Lizzie manages to balance sometimes limited information on for example architraves, tight corners and the exact location of pipe stacks, with getting the most out of the space and yet designing to a high tolerance for any last minute tweaks on site. Everything she and all our designers produce ensures that our kitchens can be fitted first time, without any compromise on quality. 

To find out more contact our sales team at