Update: 25th December 2017
As mentioned earlier our planning finally went through and the application was completely successful. Sadly the covenant still remains so we can only sell of one building plot at this time.
We have now emptied the house and put it up for sale with the land. However we have decided that if the property doesn’t sell very quickly we have a Plan B up our sleeves. If by the end of Spring or early summer, if we have had no real sensible offers, we will split the house and land up. We will keep the land for ourselves, giving us a plot of land to come back to, and will sell the house off separately probably taking it to auction. It needs to go and the sooner the better and will be priced as such but if that doesn’t work we will sell it at auction.
Only time will tell if this is the right decision!
Update: 22nd February 2017
Now that all the animals have gone we have had to re-consider what to do with the House and Land. We are finding the stairs indoors a bit of an issue and we are finding we only use a few of the rooms in the house to avoid having to move around too much and to heat the whole house. We love the house and what we have done with it but we have decided it’s time to move on to somewhere smaller and more manageable. We think a bungalow with a small garden, big enough for the dogs but not too big to be unmanageable, and a frontage big enough to park the motorhome. As for the land, managing the grass has already been given over to a ‘gardener’ as we cannot manage it ourselves. There is a small piece of our land that is not covered by an agricultural covenant, so we decided to apply for planning permission and called in a Professional Surveyor/Architect to advise us as we have been told that it can be quite difficult to get things through the planning process without a professional.
My research on-line led me to Cellan Jones of Prime Architecture a local company that deals with several small developers. Having attended the site and giving us a quote he then proceeded to prepare an application for 4 properties! That was a surprise but he assured us it would not be a problem and in fact the local council were desperate to get many more houses built in order to reach their target by 2020. We have of course received objections from the locals but, as our land is within the local development plan, their objections are likely to be ignored. After all, just applying for planning does not breach the covenant and indeed is essential if ever the covenant is to be challenged at court, which will not be our problem. The one thing this has the potential to do is give us many more options as to where we go and what we do next. We are hoping the planning application, which all told has cost us £5000 so far (thanks Mum), will be finalised next month, March, and we can then start the process of selling and moving on. We will probably stay in Wales as the properties are so much cheaper here and, as we intend to spend most of our time in the motorhome, we won’t be at home much anyway. With the 4 plots plus the house and stables we should be in a good position to negotiate a deal with a local developer and in the process avoid having to pay Capital Gains tax, which we would do if we sold the land off separately. Watch this space.
As mentioned elsewhere, the farm originally had 42 acres of land, which at the time was ample for a family to make a living.
These days in excess of 100 acres is needed to be viable if stock is the main product, whereas market gardens and other intensive styles of farming would be possible using under 100 acres.
We now have only 1.1 acres, which when we arrived was divided into: a Stable area and yard, a garden area (where the polytunnel is) and two paddocks. The garden area was modified by us back into a paddock, but even with this ground it was not enough grazing for 2 horses.
Prior to moving here we had our horses at livery. Unfortunately there were too many horses there so grazing was limited and we regularly had to supplementary feed them. So although there is not enough grazing for them here, and we have to feed them during the winter, things haven’t changed much but at least we have them at home!
Anyway, the converted paddock became the ‘exercise’ area and the place we would turn the horses out when the weather was bad, but its location by the yard meant that all the rainwater ran off into the paddock.
As you may know we get quite a lot of rainfall in Wales so this paddock was often a quagmire in the winter, and our mare suffered ‘mud fever’ a couple of times. In the winter months the horses spend a lot of their time ‘at home’, so converting the first paddock into something better was a priority.
We couldn’t afford a proper ‘ménage’ and anyway the first paddock was unsuitable due to the slope, so we consulted another local horse owner and friend who
suggested a ‘bark area’ similar to his own would be the best compromise. Fortunately this friend also had the relevant equipment to carry out the work, so we agreed a price and off we went.
The transformation started by having to remove the topsoil and this is where the first issue raised its head! It turned out
that although the soil was only 6 – 8 inches deep by the polytunnel, it was nearly 2 foot deep near the road! We were hoping to be able to just create a new earth bank with the spoil, but there was far too much for that, so what were we to do with the soil?
Again another local friend came to the rescue and took the soil off our hands, thankfully, although I think they may have regretted it when it turned out we needed over ten lorry loads to remove the soil! This caused them a few problems but that’s another story. Again, things seemed to have a way of turning out for the best and our friend managed to sell the surplus soil to a couple of gentleman who were repairing a garden that had been contaminated with spilt heating oil, so everything turned out well!
Once the soil was removed and the bank prepared we installed a new fence and then it was time for the stone to be delivered, again about ten lorry loads. This was spread by the digger and run flat by running the caterpillar tracks of the digger over it. This would also ensure that the drainage was adequate.
Now that the stone was flat, the next stage was to have the bark peelings delivered with a similar quantity of loads needed. The digger had done its job and was no longer on site or available so the peelings had to be spread by hand!
As you will see from the photos this project was quite a large undertaking and, as both of
us have disabilities, you can imagine this ‘spreading’ took quite a long time. Needless to say it took several days as we had to do it a bit at a time!
However it has proved to be well worth it and has been invaluable for both turning the horses out in bad weather and for their exercise. We are fortunate to be able to rent a 4.5 acre field just up the road so the bark school has been worth the time, effort and money so that we don’t end up poaching the rented field.
Over time, the bark peelings will decay and will need replacing, but this is a small price to pay for something that can be used most of the year.
The polytunnel frame had been erected prior to our arrival and we have since put the cover on. It is 32′ long by 24′ wide so inside we have created a 24′ long vegetable area with an 8′ long log store and potting area at the end. We installed an overhead watering system which is very useful.
Outside the tunnel is surrounded by a block wall and the ground there has been converted to a vegetable patch, which has proved very successful, especially as we have a ready supply of manure!! The fruit cage we have created is also benefitting.
As you can see in the goats pages, we have installed a couple of 10′ X 10′ sheds that face onto the ‘bark area’ which we have converted into pens for the goats. Several of the pictures show how the land is laid out.
We have no plans to do any more work on the land and intend to leave it as it is.