20-metre plot sells for £1.26 million

Seven times the price of the average home

Updated: 
The garden in Primrose Hill

A patch of back garden measuring just 20 metres square has sold at auction for £1.26 million - despite not even having planning permission.

The small plot in Primrose Hill, north London, went up for sale with a guide price of £100,000 - £150,000. But after a furious bidding war between more than two dozen potential buyers, it reached £1.26 million - more than seven times the price of the UK's average home.

The buyer also had to fork out another £68,750 in stamp duty.

"This was one of the most competitive and enthusiastic rooms we have seen in a while," comments auctioneer Gary Murphy from Allsops.

The roughly rectangular patch forms part of the back garden of a house on the south side of Elsworthy Terrace. It's not known whether the successful buyer lives in one of the adjoining properties and plans to annex it as a garden, or is hoping to get planning permission to build.

But planning permission may not be given as the plot is small and very close to neighbouring homes. While the government recently relaxed the planning rules to allow - in principle - all building on brownfield sites, gardens don't fall under this heading.

And according to the he National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), says that "Local planning authorities should consider the case for setting out policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area."

"I think the purchaser and competitors were taking a speculative and long term view as to what sort of planning potential the land might have in the future," Chris Berriman, a partner at Allsop, tells the Ham and High.

"Primrose Hill is a very popular area of London where demand consistently outstrips supply, but it was surprising that it beat its guide price so significantly and that the market decided it was worth a lot more than £150,000."

But as property prices go through the roof in London and the south east, land prices are doing the same - particularly in the most select spots where buyers believe they can create something special.

Recently, indeed, a plot of land in swanky Sandbanks was put up for sale at over £6 million - twice as much as it had sold for when it actually held a house shortly before.

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