“Houston we have a problem.” I need to change that famous quote to “House we have a problem.”
We certainly do have a problem and I’m not sure what is going happen. This is one of those Raindrops moments! We have rain and need it but sometimes we don’t want it and it’s really annoying. Some people might not be interested in reading this because it doesn’t have such a positive vibe as usual and that’s absolutely fine. But in real life we get raindrops with our sunshine and we have to take the rough with the smooth. On this occasion I just feel like I want and need to write it down so I can document it and try and process my feelings about it. Gosh, feelings, they are all over the place at the moment. Massively all over the place.
We moved into our house just under five years ago. When we initially looked round the house, the estate agent told us that the end of the garden (along with the garages and a parking area) was owned by an authority and that the vendors had a licence to use the whole garden. (So basically we would own just over half of it.) He said that we would be able to have a licence to use the whole garden but it ‘could, in theory be taken back’ but if it was, they wouldn’t build on it so we needn’t worry – there could just be a possibility that they could build a house further down and they might use that part of ‘our’ garden for a garden for any new house.
Well we loved the location of the house, it is in a fairly small village, in a quiet cul de sac, it was within our budget – just, and perfect central position and travelling distance for all four of us to get to work. It needed updating a bit but we knew in time we would be able to put our stamp on it. One of the things that swayed the decision was the view. I looked beyond the back fence to the magnificent view of the North Downs and it brought tears to my eyes. All you could see was this lovely hill and lots of trees, including the recognisable shape of some old oak trees and horse-chestnut trees, plus a small building built in the style of a Tudor dovecote. Just the thought that it would be possible for us to ever live somewhere with such a special view completely blew me away.
We happily moved into our ‘forever home’ a few months later and slowly we have worked hard at transforming the garden from a completely blank canvass to a garden that it is pleasant to sit in, mainly focusing on the bit nearer the house that we own. Gradually we are enjoying planning and working to make our dreams and visions of the house a reality.
Fast forward four years and several months later and we received a letter from a property consultant asking to do a topographical survey of the part of the garden that we hold under licence. Although at the back of our minds we knew there would always be a possibility, it really was at the back of our minds and nowhere near the forefront. I phoned the company to ask what it was about and my jaw dropped as I took in the words “they want to develop the land…”
This was in April. The surveyor came out, took some measurements, noted the trees and had a good look around. I wrote to the authority who own the end of the garden and their solicitors, and said that we would like to be considered for purchasing this piece of the garden in order that we will still be able to use it and still be able to appreciate the lovely outlook that we have.
We thought it would be a good idea to speak to our neighbours to see if they had heard anything about this, whether they had received letters or not. Only our two immediate neighbours had any knowledge because they, like us, don’t own their full garden. Our road is quite community minded so we decided to get a bit of a petition together, just in case. I know and appreciate that it is completely necessary to build new houses to accommodate everyone and also to keep house prices down and I don’t want to sound like a NIMBY, but genuinely our close is really small and doesn’t have the infrastructure for any extra houses or flats.
We heard nothing. Until a letter dropped on the mat yesterday. Containing proposed plans. Oh shit.
For us, it actually couldn’t be much worse. The proposal is to put two semi detached houses in the part of the garden – that we don’t own, but do use. Two houses! In that piece of garden! Also for some reason they want to put them sideways and pretty much to where the boundary fence will be. So our beautiful view is going to be of the side of a large house and this wall be only be about 18 metres from our back door.
I know there are far worse problems in life but for me, at the moment, I feel completely crushed. I really love my house and I love my garden with its rural view. I hate that things are going to happen that are completely out of my control. This will affect us hugely and I feel like nobody else will care. I feel like this whole saga is going to send my stress levels through the roof because it is the last thing I want and I don’t think I can do anything about it. I am a calm person so I’m sure I will deal with it but inside I feel sick. Yes I know I should be truly thankful that I live in a nice house and am fortunate enough to have a garden – and I am – but I wish I could rewind this part of my life and then fast forward, skipping this bit, so it doesn’t happen.
The letter said to contact them if we want to discuss the plans so I have emailed them saying we are not happy and we would like to discuss it with them.
I know that this is going to go ahead but I’m not happy with the plans they have proposed – at all. I’m really hoping that they will be open to discussion and have some flexibility over where these houses will go…