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Auction watch: May 2021.

04 Jun 2021 | 6 min

Inspired by new beginnings, this month’s Auction Watch had us keeping our eyes peeled for land that’s ready to be brought back into use, or awaiting a radical transformation.

Here are the lots that piqued our interest:

The hopeful development site
Rainsough Brow, Prestwich, Manchester

Located in Prestwich, with its thriving high street, attractive green spaces and great commuting routes into Manchester, this freehold site seems ideal for a new residential development.

The brownfield site, formerly The Plough pub which closed back in 2011 and has since been demolished, has already secured planning permission for a block of 15 apartments over four storeys – plus a basement carpark for future residents.

The land went to auction last month with a guide price of £325,000, but unfortunately didn’t receive any bids – which perhaps came down to the price tag.

A recent article labelled Prestwich as ‘arrived’ (as opposed to up and coming) – the suburban town’s characterful bars and restaurants certainly have pushed prices up in recent years. It’s perhaps more common for a property investor to build in an area at the start of its development journey, such as neighboring towns like Levenshulme, where they could potentially get more bang for their buck.

However, with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions possibly prompting more people to live somewhere that’s lively and social, Brits may be willing to pay a little more for an apartment that ticks all the boxes.

Perhaps we’ll see this aspiring development site at auction again soon.

The wannabe holiday home
Widworthy, Honiton, EX14

This old coach house, timber barn and surrounding land – nuzzled in its own little valley in East Devon – was marketed at auction last month as the perfect spot for holiday accommodation. And we can see why.

Historic, characterful buildings are becoming increasingly popular among those seeking a place to stay in the UK – with quirkiness replacing the excitement of going abroad in some cases. We’ve also spoken a lot about the staycation boom recently and the opportunities for investors, and this plot certainly occupies a stunning rural position close the coast, local amenities and other holiday sites.

Planning permission has already been granted to turn the dilapidated buildings into a 5-bedroom, luxury holiday property – and it already benefits from mains water and electricity. This could be why the lot sold for more than twice the guide price, at £255,000.

Your own slice of nature
Penenden Heath, Maidstone, Kent

For some, lockdown prompted the desire to pick up a paintbrush, or start a new fitness regime. It seems others, however, were inspired to purchase their very own woodland.

It’s no secret that Brits have enjoyed spending more time outdoors following the pandemic. And while many of us are now ready to socialise indoors in pubs and restaurants once again, others have decided to permanently embrace nature, and enjoy time with family in their own private forest.

We spotted this 17 acre parcel of land at auction a few months ago, which would be ideal for such a family weekend getaway – located close to the large town of Maidstone.

The mature woodland is made up mostly of designated Ancient Woodland, harking back to 1600. Undisturbed by human development, they host unique and complex communities of plants and wildlife, which could also attract buyers hoping to ensure its protection.

This plot sold at auction for £158,000, but if you’re considering a similar investment, there’s a few things you should be aware of:

  1. Legally, you’re only permitted to stay overnight (e.g. camp) in your woodland for a maximum of 28 days in the year without planning permission. Though this has been extended by the Government to 56 days until the end of December 2021.

  2. If you’re thinking of buying woodland to build on, you might want to consider an alternative option. It’s unlikely you’ll be granted permission by the council to remove any trees, particularly if they’re considered ancient, so a brownfield site is likely a much safer choice.

  3. There are some interesting tax benefits to owning woodland which could be worth investigating, particularly if you’re a business owner.

An opportunity to combine new with old
Ford Green House, Ford Green Road, Stoke-on-Trent

The small but well-connected village of Smallthorne is the backdrop to this plot, which also boasts a bustling high street and a number of green parks – up on the wish lists of both buyers and renters according to Rightmove.

The land itself is currently home to Ford Green House, but planning permission is already in place for the part demolition and conversion of the property, to turn it into two semi-detached houses. While dividing a property can be particularly profitable, it’s never as simple as sticking up a partition wall – so we’ve pulled together a list of considerations here.

Given the size of the garden, planning permission has also been granted for a further seven new-build homes – making this lot ideal for a residential development to combine old with new.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to generate any interest at auction, and the plot went unsold with a guide price of £350,000.

A chance to knock down and start again
3 Segensworth Road, Fareham, Hampshire

This derelict property in Hampshire is in a bit of a sorry state, but it does present a great opportunity to bring the land it’s built on back into use, by knocking the building down and starting again.

The property is built on a sizeable, rectangular shaped plot with plenty of space, making it ideal for someone looking to build their own dream property, or an investor eyeing up the land for a small development.

However, we did notice a few things that potential buyers ought to be wary of:

  1. The seller of the property has disclosed that Japanese Knotweed has been found on the plot, which can often make mortgage providers very nervous given the rate it can spread at, and the risk of structural damage. In these cases, a specialist lender like Together may be able to help.

  2. Though the property will most likely be razed to the ground (given it’s currently got plant life growing out of its roof and windows), the purchase is classed as an uninhabitable property – which some high street lenders could turn their nose up at. Together however are able to lend on such a property – so it’s worth chatting to us if you’ve spotted a similar opportunity.

These factors didn’t appear to be a problem for one buyer however, as the plot sold at auction for £282,000.

Looking to buy at auction?

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