22 March 2002

Dereliction can pay

ABANDONED buildings in the right location can be worth a small fortune. Cleygate Farm, Normandy, near Guildford, Surrey, runs to only 54 acres but, with planning permission to convert a large barn and rebuild the derelict farmhouse, BK (formerly Bruton Knowles) is expecting to realise about £750,000 from the disposal.

But prospective buyers looking for a compact holding in the area need not go down the conversion route. In neighbouring West Sussex, Strutt & Parker has just launched Hope Farm, near Billingshurst.

Guided at £2m including a five-bedroomed 16th century house, the farm is typical of the small residential holdings close to the capital that have been eagerly snapped up by London buyers over the past few years. Whether this trend will continue in 2002 remains to be seen, but agent Mark McAndrew is confident.

"The house is in the middle of the land, there are no footpaths and local farmers will be pleased to look after the land." Few similar offerings have come to the market so far this year, he says and adds that, even if there is a downturn in demand, it could be a case of the "early bird catching the worm". &#42