CUC House Pease Pottage 003 (002)

Case study: CUC House, Old Brighton Road North, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, RH11 9AJ – Searls Land’s first ever deal

The site of interest

Searls Land opened its doors in January 2010 and CUC House was our first acquisition. It came about as a result of our Managing Partner Tim Searl contacting clients he had forged relationships with in his previous land roles and asking them what profile of sites they were looking for.

A former colleague of Tim’s had been working on CUC House, a substantial detached Edwardian House with added two-storey extension, standing in approximately half an acre. The property was in need of renovation. It was vacant at the time of sale but was previously used as office accommodation.

Mid Sussex District Council granted planning consent on Jan 4 2010 for the main house to revert to residential use. Planning was also given for the demolition of the rear addition and for seven new houses to be built in the grounds to the rear of CUC House, to be accessed by a separate driveway.

Planning adjustment gave client a profits boost

Tim had been working on behalf of Hillreed Homes (now owned by Persimmon Homes), which was looking for a site with planning. Hillreed submitted an unconditional offer for the property on Feb 24, 2010, which, after a few clarification meetings, was accepted in early March.

They bought the site with permission to convert the main house and the new build at the back.

As soon as the sale was completed, Hillreed submitted a different application to demolish the existing house and replace it with another six new houses.

That meant, instead of the conversion and seven new homes, they would have consent for 13 new homes if their application was granted, which it was. Result, an increased margin and profits.

Expert knowledge of the market was the critical for this project

The project moved through at a lightning pace. From the granting of initial planning, to Hillreed submitting its offer, through to exchange and completion, four months had elapsed. The new application was then submitted, and permission was granted before the end of the same year.

The market in 2010 was just starting to recover after the crash of 2008 and Tim’s thinking in going out on his own at that point was influenced by his knowledge of the market and how the industry had recovered from other significant setbacks.

He knew recovery was in its nascent stages but also knew the market would only go up from that point. CUC House was the first building block and everything took off from there, with Tim employing his first member of staff Dan Acutt, now Searls Director of Operations, three months later.

A big moment for Searls Land

CUC House holds very fond memories for Searls Land. Our fee was paid by cheque and Tim still has that cheque in a safe place.


Transaction – Site acquired with planning.

Client – Hillreed Homes

Planning status – Consent granted for the demolition of the rear addition and for seven new houses to be built in the grounds to the rear of CUC House. Later changed to levelling of the whole site, with 13 homes built on the land.

Land parcel – Half an acre.

Details – This substantial detached house and two-storey extension was acquired with planning consent on behalf of Hillreed Homes, who subsequently built 13 homes on the site.