My Chapel

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

We went and had a closer look at that chapel yesterday. It really is rather nice, even seems to be in pretty decent condition.

The last couple of passed planning applications are available online, the UK is pretty good with that sort of thing. Thanks to land registry information we can also see how much it last sold for.

So, the previous owner got planning approval passed to convert the place into a two bedroom home back in April of 2006. At the end of the year it was sold for £315,000, no work having been done. Failed dream? Perhaps the owner found out exactly how much it would cost to actually have the work done. Perhaps the whole aim was to get planning consent then sell it on.

The current owner doesn’t seem to have been happy with a 2 bedroom conversion. And in November 2007 got planning permission to convert it into a 4 bedroom residence. Four bedrooms? It is a 6m by 14m rectangle! The planning permission comes complete with architectural diagrams [PDF], the owner was going to fit all this in by digging out a basement. Clearly he had, or thought he had, deep, bulging, pockets.

I guess the pockets weren’t as deep as expected, here we are a year later and it is back on the market. This time for 285k, that’s less than a 10% drop since, pretty much, peak prices. Could maybe knock off another 10% – could even be worth putting in a 250k offer. Though, for me, 200k would be more realistic. But even then, what of the cost of actually making the place a home? It would have to be astronomical, surely. I should get a guy down at the pub to browse the plans, and see what he thinks. Probably pointless though, getting a mortgage is hard enough right now – borrowing even more on speculative post-conversion value? Probably more likely to get a “yes” asking a banker if he’d like a stick rammed up his backside. And where would we live in the meantime? Would the council let us live in a caravan on site? The poor old neighbours would think the pikeys have moved in. Not bloody likely.

The council is a whole other ball game of course, their way of ensuring only the “right sort” get the place is to make it twice as expensive to do anything. The trees are all under protection orders of course, which is fine by me, I want the trees – but of course this means you need to consult a qualified arbourist before you so much as step foot in the direction of one of them. Before a single bit of work is done, scaffold-grade protective barriers must be erected around the trees at a British-standards specified distance (also requiring specialists no doubt.) Of course, the other thing you have to do is pay for a full archaeological survey of the site – and probably have an archaeologist around while you dig out the basement, assuming you have the money to go all the way with that plan (in reading all the fine print, it seems the archaeological survey condition is only on the basement-plan approval, the 2 bedroom one doesn’t have it.)

The site itself is quite large, at a third of an acre, and has housing all around it but separated by a good buffer of space. It is just crying out for a lush yew hedge – which would have to be acceptable, yew hedges and churches are like bread and butter. There’s a site layout plan in the council records as well. Given all the trees there is probably limited scope for a productive garden, but I’m sure I could manage something.

As for the history of the site, it is part of the old Caldicott School site, that page includes some history including when the chapel was built (1909.) Locals in the pub tell us its most recent public use was as a youth club, mostly used as a boxing gym. That’s when it was under control of some kind of youth trust, before being sold into private freehold (with preservation conditions attached) to raise money or something.

Potential galore, for someone in possession of both dreams and money. Enough dreaming for now though, back to work tomorrow and on to the finalé of 2008. Must try and just forget about it.

Bought a bottle of 18yo Glenlivit today, only one 10,000th the price of the chapel, it’ll just have to do I think.