Country houses for sale

Holiday homes near St Austell bucking the trend

Ten reservations in nine weeks isn’t a bad haul for the autumn period last year at the Woodland Homes just outside St Austell. These modern newly built properties attached to The Cornwall hotel are proving popular with young British families, as well as property buyers from overseas, either as self-catering holiday homes or houses to buy freehold. This year looks set to continue the trend: four reservations on sales were secured by the end of January, helped by the Christmas/New Year rush. The hotel/villas concept is well-established all over the world with names from Aman to the Six Senses getting in on the act, but there aren’t so many homegrown hybrids of this nature yet on UK soil.

Launched as a brand new hotel in a lesser-known part of Cornwall just outside St Austell, The Cornwall triumphed in its opening months in 2010 as the ash-cloud saw holidaymakers stranded in the UK with an estimated 100,000 flights cancelled. Its Google-friendly name secured the hotel first-page search results listings and bookings quickly followed. Now the hotel has a loyal following of Brits who love the area, as well as holidaymakers from abroad.

And of course, the success of this model is that the hotel itself proves such a useful introduction to the properties – a Swedish couple who first stayed in September have just reserved a property after a post-Christmas visit. Classic rooms with lots of period detail can be found in the original Georgian property – The White House – and more modern rooms built in a contemporary style sit behind this building. A modern space for breakfasts and light lunches, a pretty terrace outside the bar, and a fine dining restaurant cater for those who seek sustenance. The well-put-together spa has Aromatherapy Associates treatments and the indoor swimming pool looks out over a stunning walled garden. For those opting for self-catering holidays, the Woodland Homes offer modern spacious properties built in a Scandinavian style a few minutes’ walk from all the hotel facilities. Built to provide lots of space and natural light, with balconies and open plan living/kitchen areas on the first floor, and bedrooms on the ground floor, the Woodland Homes blend into their landscape well.

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2010 was a brave year to launch a new development: the property market for country houses in Cornwall as a whole has been slow, with prices dipping 10-15% since 2007. Inland property, in particular, has been affected, according to Richard Speedy from Knight Frank in Exeter, and buyers are more savvy than they have ever been. ‘Most country house buyers are coming from the national, rather than the local market, with the majority looking for a lifestyle move. Coastal properties, those with sea views, remain resilient, however, and some hotspots like Rock endure, as supply in these areas is so low.

‘But there isn’t a huge amount on the market, and second homes are being bought and sold very gradually, although fairly-priced, well-presented houses will always find a buyer,’ Mr Speedy concludes.  

Perhaps the demand for Woodland Homes is coming from buyers looking not for private country houses but for managed properties which they can lock-up-and-leave. Sales Director Sam Weller suggests that flexibility is also an appealing part of the deal when people buy a Woodland Home. Some buyers choose the buy-to-stay scheme and are using the property just for themselves, whereas some others choose the stay-to-let option, which lets owners rent out their houses as part of the hotel. There are guaranteed rental returns for the first three years of 6% for those letting their houses out – owners can let out from four to 52 weeks per year, own the properties freehold, and can claim back VAT on their purchase. Mr Weller was surprised to find the three-bedroom properties to be extremely popular, as multi-generational families and groups of friends holiday together, and as a result the team are considering building more of these for phase two (there are just one three-bedroom property and five two-bedroom properties left in the first phase).

In total sixty of these modern, Scandinavian style holiday properties are planned on the site, but if you’re keen for one already built, in it’s worth finding out more about buying a property at The Cornwall sooner rather than later to be in time to buy at the end of the first phase.

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