First-time buyer lands city home - after spotting it from his paddleboard

First time buyer Harry Fallows stood outside St James Quay, Norwich

First-time buyer Harry Fallows by the river at St James Quay in Norwich - Credit: Jamie Simonds

It’s not every day that a paddleboarding trip leads to a house purchase, but for 26 year-old Harry Fallows, it did. 

“I happened to be paddleboarding along the stretch of the River Wensum that runs right past St James Quay,” he says. “I noticed the signs for the new homes and actually joked with my friend that there would be no way I could afford to live there!” 

As it turned out, he could.  

St James Quay, a new apartment complex off Barrack Street in Norwich

St James Quay sits right next to the River Wensum in Norwich - Credit: Hill

The Government’s Help to Buy scheme – which, according to Savills, has helped more than 300,000 first-time buyers get on to the property ladder since it launched in 2013 – gave Harry a better budget to work with.

Like many people his age, he had chosen to give up his rented flat in Manchester and had moved back in with his parents, who live in Suffolk. This allowed him the financial freedom to put more of his income into saving the deposit he needed.  

“I had lived in Norwich before but moved away to rent a place in Manchester for two years,” he explains. “I was determined to get myself on the property ladder, but soon realised that renting is completely prohibitive when you are trying to save money to buy somewhere.  

“After looking into my monthly repayment costs, the budget I could afford was around £150k-£160k, however, many of the apartments I viewed were too small, needed work doing or not in the right location, so I wasn’t too sure I would actually find what I wanted.” 

First time buyer Harry Fallows outside St James Quay in Norwich where he has bought his first home

Harry says he loves the location of his new home at St James Quay, which overlooks the River Wensum - Credit: Jamie Simonds/Hill

After spotting the new St James Quay development from his paddleboard on the River Wensum, Harry visited the marketing suite, run by developer Hill. “I had already fallen in love with the development and its riverside location. We sat down and worked through some options and I was over the moon when I realised that I already had a big enough deposit to buy a one-bedroom apartment at St James Quay with Help to Buy.” 

Harry was able to purchase a one-bedroom, second-floor apartment with a purchase price of £210,000, using a deposit of £31,500. The Help to Buy scheme lends first time buyers up to 20pc of the price of a new-build property outside London. The scheme is set to draw to a close in March 2023, although other initiatives such as First Homes and Shared Ownership, could still help. 

Aerial view of Norwich taken from the top of St James Quay in Norwich, a selection of new apartments from developer Hill

St James Quay, Norwich, overlooks some of the city's best views - Credit: Simon J Harvey/Hill

“Using Help to Buy made a huge difference to my budget and allowed me to buy a property that I would never have been able to afford otherwise,” says Harry. “I received a £42,000 government loan, which meant I could afford to look at properties up to £210k – this put the new apartments at St James Quay within my budget. 

“I booked a viewing and immediately knew I wanted the apartment. It had everything I needed and more – having my own balcony and the riverside location sold it for me!  

“My apartment is east facing so I have the best of both worlds – a view of Norwich city, the cathedral, the beautiful willow trees and I can see the calming river. When it’s sunny, it is just beautiful.” 

First time buyer Harry Fallows on the balcony of his apartment at St James Quay

Harry Fallows on the balcony of his first home at St James Quay in Norwich - Credit: Jamie Simonds/Hill

St James Quay is a landmark development located off Barrack Street. It comprises a collection of luxury one and two-bedroom apartments and two and three-bedroom penthouses. The development had stood empty for around a decade but is now part of an ongoing mission to regenerate the area, creating a new urban community which centres around a careful restoration of the city’s medieval walls. 

“A lot of the apartments in Norwich are very similar – most are an older style, quite small and have no private outside space,” says Harry. “St James Quay is impressive and the specification super modern and very high quality. The balcony is such a good size and I have a nice outlook – not just a view of someone else’s window.  

“Many of my friends who have purchased homes have ended up spending a lot of money doing work or buying new appliances. I have integrated appliances in my kitchen, Amtico flooring with underfloor heating, smart thermostat controls in each room and a huge storage cupboard which has a washing machine and tumble dryer inside. 

“My bathroom is amazing – it feels like I am walking into a hotel every time I use it. When my friends visit, they are so impressed by the size and finish – there really isn’t any competition in the area.” 

First time buyer Harry Fallows in the kitchen of his one-bed apartment at St James Quay, Norwich

Harry Fallows in his contemporary kitchen at his one-bed apartment in St James Quay, Norwich - Credit: Jamie Simonds/Hill

The location of St James Quay is also a factor, as the city centre and riverside path are all within easy walking distance. Norwich railway station, also within walking distance, makes it easy for commuters. 

“Living here I have everything on my doorstep,” Harry says. “I can walk along the river and take a quick trip into town to go shopping, have dinner or meet friends for drinks. I can take a walk over the bridge and go to the bars and clubs on the other side of the city. There’s plenty to do, see, eat, drink in any direction you walk in, and the locals are all friendly.

“For work or travelling into London, Norwich station is about 15 minutes away on foot. Everything is so close by but I don’t feel like it’s on top of me – it’s ideal.” 

Balcony of an apartment at St James Quay, Norwich, overlooking the River Wensum

Some of the property's, like Harry's, even have their own balcony - Credit: Hill

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Harry’s job means he enjoys a combination of working from home and travelling to London and the Midlands. “I don’t really have a central office, so I swap between working at home, taking the train into London Liverpool Street, which takes around one hour and 40 minutes, or sometimes driving to the Midlands.”

Harry says he couldn’t have bought his home without Help to Buy. “It’s really important that first-time buyers have advice and support so that they can navigate their way onto the property ladder,” he says. “Being able to use Help to Buy means I now a have a lovely new home that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to even consider buying.” 

Prices at St James Quay start from £193,950 for a one-bedroom apartment using the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. For further information, or to arrange an appointment, visit the website at

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