Tap­ping into a liq­uid as­set

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Buying -

Fiona Brand­horst goes dows­ing for prop­er­ties with wa­ter busi­nesses that do far more than wash their face

Not many par­ents would trust their seven-year-old son to find them the house of their dreams, but fish­ing-lov­ing Fred San­ders saw a fish farm and house for sale in his lo­cal Sur­rey pa­per 11 years ago and con­vinced his par­ents to go and have a look.

“We were strug­gling to find any­thing we could af­ford, so we thought we had noth­ing to lose but there were only pic­tures of the gar­den to go on,” re­calls Nick San­ders, Fred’s fa­ther and the group di­rec­tor of brand for Clarks shoes. “The house was built in 1983 and was an agri­cul­tural dwelling, so was in very poor con­di­tion, but the three-acre gar­den was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing, with four bore­holes creat­ing a stream, feed­ing two trout lakes with nat­u­ral spring wa­ter,” he says.

The lush com­muter-belt land near the sought-af­ter vil­lage of Sham­ley Green was pre­vi­ously owned by the Duke of Northum­ber­land in the 1800s and had been farmed as wa­ter­cress beds be­fore be­ing run as a com­mer­cial fish farm from the early Seven­ties. Now it teems with wildlife, and badgers, deer and king­fish­ers are fre­quent visi­tors.

San­ders, and his wife Su­sanne, de­cided to gut the prop­erty and con­vinced lo­cal coun­cil plan­ners to al­low them to re­build the house in a Sur­rey cot­tage-style with tile hung el­e­va­tions, more in keep­ing with the sur­round­ing houses, and al­most dou­bling its size to make a hand­some five-bed­room fam­ily home.

“The house came with a li­cence to ab­stract wa­ter for bot­tling or fish farm­ing and we’ve re­newed it each year and kept the lakes stocked with trout where we fly-fish with fam­ily and friends, but there’s po­ten­tial to make a good busi­ness,” says San­ders, who con­sid­ered rear­ing trout and es­tab­lish­ing a smok­ery. Now the cou­ple are re­luc­tantly mov­ing lo­cally with their chil­dren, Fred, now 18, and Ge­or­gia, 16, to be nearer schools and friends. Arun­shead Farm is on the mar­ket with Hill Cle­ments for £1.775 mil­lion.

Vivers Mill, in Pick­er­ing, North York­shire, has pro­vided an in­come for over 900 years, first as a pa­per mill and in more re­cent times as a flour mill af­ter Joseph Rown­tree sold it in 1740 to start his choco­late fac­tory in York.

Today, its long his­tory and re­stored mill wheel are at­trac­tions for guests at the four-star b&b, which Mike Saul and his wife, Sue, have been run­ning for the past 17 years. “Against all ad­vice we bought the mill in a very run­down state and we’ve re­stored ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing our­selves,” says Saul, who turned 60 this year, trig­ger­ing an urge to re­tire and down­size from the ninebed­room, Grade II listed prop­erty to some­thing a bit smaller nearby.

It’s a ready-made busi­ness, on the mar­ket with Jack­son, Stops & Staff for £849,000. The mill stream keeps on giv­ing, with fly­catch­ers, wag­tails and king­fish­ers ap­peal­ing to bird­watch­ers.

“The best thing about run­ning the b&b is the free­dom. We roll out of bed and start work – no com­mute, no has­sle, just get dressed and be­gin,” says Saul.

An­other off-the-peg prop­erty money-spin­ner up for grabs is Palling­ton Lakes, a sculp­ture park, com­plete with farm­house, in Dorset.

Artist Si­mon Gud­geon cre­ated the 24 acres of land­scaped grounds, dot­ted with his art work, in 2011. It is a haven for artists and wildlife, with 106 bird species at­tracted to the wa­ter, as well as ot­ters and voles. Gud­geon and his wife, Monique, also en­joy an in­come stream from the fish­ery.

The four-bed­room house, which is in­cluded in the £2 mil­lion ask­ing price, has a dou­ble garage and out­build­ings that in­clude an art gallery, stu­dio and of­fice. The barn has plan­ning per­mis­sion to con­vert and ex­tend into a gallery or café.

Gud­geon is sad to leave. “With its grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity and the in­creas­ing amount of ad­min­is­tra­tion, I have moved fur­ther away from what I love best, which is creat­ing sculp­ture.”

The buyer of Two Cocks Farm and Brew­ery, set in 40 acres of rolling Berk­shire coun­try­side, may not be so

Work of art: Palling­ton Lakes sculp­ture park and house are on the mar­ket with Sy­monds & Samp­son, main; the liv­ing room at Two Cocks Farm, right

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