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Case study: Land to the rear of Turner Court, 60-64 Ockford Road, Godalming, GU7 1RF

With obstacles including apparent flood risk and Japanese knotweed, Searls Land and their partners pulled out all the stops to get this deal for three detached homes over the line. 

The site of interest 

We began working with Reside Developments in 2012 with a view to achieving planning permission on this site.  

The land parcel was behind a large building owned by a charity with a wooded area on the other side. 

Over the next three years, there were several that caused significant delays to the project moving forward. 

The land parcel was situated on the flood plain 

If you build anything on a functional flood plain – land where water must flow or be stored in times of flood – that needs to be made clear to any buyer. Some mortgage companies will not lend to people looking to buy a house on a flood plain, due to the increased risks that may come with that. 

After two years’ work, we were able to get the site removed from the flood plain. Reside did a process of sequential testing over an extended period, to prove that the site should not be included in the flood zone. 

The site had Japanese knotweed on it 

Japanese knotweed can quickly consume entire gardens, grow by as much as ten feet in three months and is expensive to get rid of. You can be prosecuted for allowing it to spread from your land to adjoining land and even for disposing it in the wild as it is classed as controlled noxious waste. 

It’s the landowner’s responsibility to control Japanese knotweed and therefore a mitigation strategy had to be put in place and maintained to stop the spread.   

Ecology – including water voles – were present 

Water voles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to hurt or kill them and even for members of the public to pick them up and move them. If you damage their shelter or disturb them in any way, you can go to prison. 

Over an extended period, various consultants were used to either rehome the water voles or prove there was no threat to habitats. 

Planning was refused 

In 2016, with the above obstacles all finally overcome, a planning application was submitted to Waverley Borough Council for three detached family houses on the site. 

The council refused the application, citing the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area and the living conditions of residents of nearby properties, with particular regard to noise and disturbance. 

However, Reside Developments appealed the refusal, and the inspector overturned it, finally granting planning permission in 2017. 

Negotiations with the charity who occupied the land to the front of the site continued into 2019 and an agreement was put in place to provide a new and improved access to the site.  

In 2022, we were instructed to sell the site on behalf of Reside Developments and Charlie Searl carried out a full marketing process. In consultation with Reside, the top three buyers were selected.  

Best and final offers were requested and received from the top three prospects before they were interviewed and a buyer, Kidbrook Homes, was selected. 

The legal process started, and Searls Land monitored the sale process before the exchange and completion earlier this year. 

Specifications 

Transaction – Site acquired without planning. 

Client – Kidbrook Homes. 

Planning status – Planning permission granted for three detached homes. 

Land parcel – 0.6 acres/0.24 hectares. 

Details – Acting for Reside Developments – and after overcoming many challenges on the site and initial planning refusal – Searls Land sold this scrub land between a wooded area and a large building with planning permission for three detached family houses to Kidbrook Homes.