Country cottage may be swamped by 700-house estate - owners knew nothing

Couple only have a few days to object to huge development ruining their rural idyll

Dream cottage

Cheryle Walton (56), and her partner Paul Jones (50) were walking their dog in the fields surrounding their beautiful rural home, when they got talking to a neighbour and discovered the horrible truth about the fields around their home. Their neighbour told them that the green fields surrounding their lovely cottage were set to be turned into a housing estate.

According to the Gazette and Herald, Cheryle, a regional sales manager, and Paul, a builder, had bought the property near Chippenham in Wiltshire for £310,000 five years ago. At the time, it was a small cottage nestled among acres of green fields, but they loved the setting so much that they invested in turning it into their dream home. The property is now valued at between £425,000 and £500,000, but all that could change if the 700-house estate is built around them.

She told the Daily Mail: "We moved here because we wanted to live away from neighbours, away from noise and away from street lighting. We wanted to live in the middle of fields. We love being out here on our own. It's our dream house." She added: "I'm devastated. I'm not sleeping and it has ruined my life. We worked really hard to build this life. It is a beautiful cottage and it is what we have always wanted.'

Site of new town

The developer held a public exhibition about the proposed development in December - and advertised it in the local paper. However, Cheryle and Paul said they had not been invited or consulted. The council only sent them a letter in January after the plans had been submitted.

Fortunately, they still have until March 4 to register their objections, before the council makes a decision in April. The director of the development told the Telegraph: "Miss Walton should have been informed and if that didn't happen, I apologise. The planning application has a long way to go. It's in, she's now aware of it, and has sufficient time to send in her comments."

Not the first - or the last

The planning department will take into account the views of homeowners affected by any development, and there have been plenty of homeowners who have either stopped developments, or secured significant changes.

However, there are a handful of examples of historic properties in the UK jammed in the middle of newer housing estates. One of the most striking is Johnstone Castle, the tower of a 16th century fort that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Unfortunately the property, in Renfrewshire in Scotland, fell into disrepair after the Second World War. The council bought it in the 1950s, and a council housing estate was built in the grounds.

And with the government putting the pressure on for more properties to be built - and aiming for a million new homes by 2020 - we can expect to see many undeveloped areas being eyed up by developers. The idea of lovely country cottages suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a 700-house estate may be unusual now, but in the next few years, we may be seeing much more of these kinds of projects.

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