The Plot!

More Frozen Peas!

It so happened that in November 2010, again by pure chance we had another “frozen peas” moment – we've not yet told you the story about the first one!

Anyway, we had another, a possible building plot in an ideal spot but worryingly it was an old..ish advert so we assumed it had been long sold.

We did eventually make a call and discovered it had not actually been sold though there were, others interested. There was a problem with the planning permission that had stalled negotiations and the vendor was awaiting a decision from the local authority.

There was a question over the validity of the permission due to the time delay between issue in 2003 and work starting. As a result the five year time limit may have lapsed. So we registered our interest and decided to await the outcome and the vendor undertook to keep us informed .

It was a small site with permission for a 2 bed bungalow. So far so good. However, the more we thought about it the more we realised that, if the permission was still valid, we didn't want to get into an “auction” type sale or sealed bids or anything like that – much better to have a fixed asking price and try to get it a bit cheaper. Otherwise you can end up offering more than you need or, alternatively, missing out by a few quid, either would be equally galling.

This is the area we are talking about and this is the view from the plot.
The view over the Herefordshire countryside we were hoping for ..............

The vendor is a very personable chap called Allan and he kindly provided detailed directions and gave permission for us to visit the site. We set off for a good look around at the first possible opportunity. It was by far the best site we had seen and it ticked all the boxes and the site was level but then the ground fell away quite sharply after a hundred meters or so, affording lovely views over a natural valley and to the distant hills beyond.

It was private but not totally isolated being just 1 mile from the main road and with pasture land either side. Across the road was a bungalow sheltered by a tall hedge with a number of barns and buildings. So, private but not isolated.

We were assured there was mains water available at the roadside and the deal included a biodigester type septic tank that had been approved for use on the site.

Site Con's

There was an electricity pole right in the middle of the view (and an old Holly tree) and to make it worse, apparently, the supply to the neighbouring bungalow passed underground right through the middle of the plot and then under the road.

The best views were (and so would the substantial part of any glazing) facing the NE.

Under the local policy in force in 2003 the planning permission was for a bungalow very similar in proportion to the original dwelling – the sardine tin – and the approved plans revealed a pretty small timber frame 2 bed bungalow measuring just 14.25m by 7.5m.

Even worse …... a more recent application for an integral garage had been refused so it looked like we couldn't even have a garage.

We both loved it immediately! No need for a ride on mower but enough space for a small bit of garden with the benefit of open land on three sides that wasn't our responsibility to maintain. Our closest neighbours appeared to be sheep and buzzards with the former undertaking most of the maintenance of the surrounding grassland.

Clearly, even if the permission was still valid, there were still planning issues, the bungalow really was a bit too small ..... and not of the design we hoped for – but we decided that it was only by a couple of meters too small in both length and width.

The question was whether the permission was still live and, more importantly, how the vendor would organise the eventual sale, particularly if there were still other interested parties.

We discussed what we were prepared to pay and by comparison with other plots and demolition / rebuild prospects we had seen, we decided it, was well worth the asking price.

How much more we were prepared to pay was a different matter because every penny spent on acquiring the site would mean a reduction in the build budget.

Still the method of sale was not decided so we decided to make it known, if and when the planning was resolved, that we were not prepared to get into a bidding war

A few weeks later we received the news that the planning permission was still valid. The rational being that as "demolition" is included in the legal definition of "operational development", thus the build had started within the 5 year time limit. Currently, there is no time limit on completion.

We met Allan on site one very cold Sunday early in December 2010. We arrived just before midday and we were late because the car doors were frozen and it took ages to get them open – not the locks but the door seals were actually frozen solid and we didn't want to rip the rubber from the mouldings trying to force the doors open.

We were aware of two others who were interested, one local (who told us the figures didn't add up and examination of the planning file revealed an enquiry from a lady in Essex. Allan told us immediately that she had dropped out and we doubt there are many who would have disclosed that information under those circumstances.
The site - with offending electricity pole and old holly tree .... the .6m stock fence is the boundary and the plot is just 36m x 30m which is about .25 acre. Proof of the weather that delayed our arrival!
After about 20 minutes of walking round (a very small parcel of land) pushing at fence posts
we made an offer below the asking price and a very long way below our maximum, to which the immediate reply was

“Yes, I'll accept that”

At first we didn't believe Allan had heard us correctly,


“Yes, I”ll accept that!”

Bugger, quite clearly we had offered too much first up!

We were aware of, but had not seen, a pub less than half a mile up the road, so off we went to the Three Horseshoes …...... and what a bonus that turned out to be. Friendly landlord, excellent Wye Valley bitter (our favourite) and by the smell of it some exciting food as well. Quite obviously we had chosen absolutely the right place to live, a location with a lovely view, quite private, on a rural road and a good pub within walking distance. Beat that!

Over the next few weeks we were in constant email and phone contact with Allan, so if you ever read this Allan, many thanks for your willingness to communicate and for the help and assistance you gave us in providing photos, old documents, contacts and for allowing us access to the plot even before exchange to do a percolation test and dig holes to assess the likely foundation requirements. It was very much appreciated.

We are located at:

Meadow End Little Cowarne Bromyard



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