Pensioner refuses to sell up - halting multi-million pound development

Pensioner has rejected a number of offers to get her to move out - and she’s not the first

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The terrace

Florence Tall, a 76-year-old from Southend in Essex, has refused to sell her house in Southchurch Avenue: which has been her home for the past 66 years. She has put a spanner in the works of a new development, and the desperate developers have dramatically increased their offer in an effort to persuade her to move. Florence still doesn't want to budge.

Florence Tall

According to The Echo, the developers planned to knock down an old terrace and replace it with Marine Plaza - a development of shops, restaurants and flats. They bought up all the other houses and the surrounding land. But despite their offer of £190,000, Florence said she didn't want to move. The Sun reported that she hadn't even been put off when the empty properties in her terrace were hit by fire last week.

The developers have now increased their offer to £350,000 - and have been trying to suggest suitable alternative properties where she may like to live. Her approach appears to be softening slightly, although she told the Metro she didn't want to move far.

Holding out

It's hardly surprising that it's difficult to move on when you have been in a property for so long. In some cases, people have no choice, because their home is subject to a compulsory purchase order, and they are forced to take the cash and move on.

In other cases, there are no grounds for compulsory purchase, so people are perfectly entitled to stay put - and some of them do.

In China this has led to the phenomenon of 'nail houses' - traditional buildings in entirely incongruous settings. In the US they have been called 'holdouts', but we have some examples in the UK too.

We reported last year on the Newcastle couple who decided they didn't want to move out, when the council decided some of the properties in their terrace weren't safe - and should be knocked down. All their neighbours accepted the cash offered by the council, but the couple decided it wasn't enough to secure them as nice a property elsewhere, so they insisted that the council demolish the terrace around them - leaving them with their own detached property.

One of the most famous people to stand their ground in the face of a development was Miss Macefield, a Seattle pensioner. Developers decided to put up a shopping mall in 2004, and had already bought up properties, and started demolishing them, when they realised that Miss Macefield wouldn't budge. She refused to sell at any cost, and eventually the mall was built around her house.

Bizarrely the building project supervisor was in contact so often over the issue that he eventually felt responsible for her, and ended up caring for her as she got older. Finally she passed away and left the house to him.

Another unusual holdout was David Hess, who owned an apartment building in New York. In 1914 the city seized ownership of it in order to expand the subway system, and despite Hess fighting in the courts, he lost and the building was torn down. Hess retained ownership of a triangle of pavement about the size of a piece of pizza, and when the city built a pavement over the triangle, workers added a mosaic, which reads: "Property of the Hess Estate which has never been dedicated for public purposes."

Chinese House in Middle of Road Demolished

Demolition work at erosion cottage

Demolition work at erosion cottage