Country houses for sale

Protect the view from your house

Picturesque views of an untouched landscape can be a source of inspiration-or of many sleepless nights. A new wind turbine or industrial unit will not only spoil your property’s outlook, but can also knock tens of thousands off its value, according to Philip Eddell from Savills Country House Consultancy. ‘A view can be worth a substantial percentage of a home’s value. If you have one, it’s essential that you do everything you can to protect it.’

Wilton estate, £3.95m, Savills – 01722 426800 (not as published in Country Life, October 2, 2013) 

Before purchasing a house with an attractive panorama, buyers should research any threats to the surroundings, such as industrial development, suggests Dawn Carritt of Jackson- Stops & Staff. ‘Your local-authority planning department will tell you if the area is zoned for future development.’

It’s also worth finding out what the neighbouring land is used for and if there are any restrictions in place, such as tree and hedgerow preservation orders. Homes surrounded by forest are a relatively safe bet, according to Mr Eddell, as woodland will almost certainly stay as it is, and if the nearby farms are operating agricultural and woodland grant schemes, they will have an incentive to manage their land sympathetically. Areas designated as an SSSI, an AONB or a national park are also less prone to development.

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But, according to David Fursdon, chairman of the Smiths Gore agency board, the only way to guarantee that your view remains unchanged is to own it. ‘Designations such as national parks can only offer a degree of comfort, but a view can be spoilt by what people do on it as much as what is built on it. Poly- tunnels can ruin a good view, as can a right of way.’

If you own the land, you can control it, adds Mr Eddell. ‘Therefore, there can be no pigs, rusting implements or mounds of rotting straw. Better still, you can improve it by planting wildflower meadows or clumps of trees, or by digging a lake to distract the eye away from blights.’
But acquiring a view can be an expensive process, according to Angus Harley of Knight Frank’s Country House Consultancy. ‘In many cases, it can become a horse trade as the local landowner smells desperation a mile off and inflates the price of their land.’ He recommends playing a waiting game. ‘Get to know the neighbouring landowner first-the best case scenario is if they end up making you an offer.’

A ‘view’ will usually cost much more than the average £6,000 to £8,000 per acre, but there’s often a marriage value that will be attached to your property, according to Mr Fursdon. ‘It’s a question of working out what the house would cost with and without it. For some houses, it doesn’t make any sense at all as the surroundings are already blighted, but if you’ve got a decent £2 million house, the acres around it that comprise the view could be worth more than £250,000.’

Mr Harley, who has witnessed buyers paying many thousands per acre, believes it’s a question of ‘protection value’ as much as ‘marriage value’. ‘In the case of country estates, the owners aren’t buying the land to raise the value of their property but rather because they know it will
be worth considerably less if the view is ruined.’

Miss Carritt recommends buying a view, even if you can’t afford to keep it in the long term. ‘Put a restrictive covenant on it against development, and then sell it on, but take control of it.’

If the view is already compromised, however, Luke Morgan of Strutt & Parker believes there are cheaper ways to improve a property’s outlook. ‘Unless you can afford to buy the whole country, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.’ Landscaping your garden and planting fast-growing trees such as conifers will enhance the surroundings and block out anything unsightly.

The NFU, CLA and local authorities can also provide guidance and support if there is any threat of further development. ‘Your neighbours will need planning permission to change the use of their land, which gives you the opportunity to object,’ explains Mr Morgan. ‘In some respects, we’re spoilt in this country with our planning laws-unlike many places in Europe, people want to keep Britain looking lovely.’

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