view over the Herefordshire countryside we were hoping for
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.
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.
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.
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.
best views were (and so would the substantial part of any glazing)
facing the NE.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
I'll accept that”
first we didn't believe Allan had heard us correctly,
I”ll accept that!”
Bugger, quite clearly we had offered too much first up!
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!
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