A happy end­ing for project that be­came a night­mare

Peter Man­de­field’s ob­ses­sion with prop­erty took him on a roller­coaster ride that al­most ended in dis­as­ter.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

PROP­ERTY ad­dic­tion is usu­ally pretty harm­less, though there are some side ef­fects.

You can waste a lot of time brows­ing Rightmove while watch­ing end­less episodes of Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion and Grand De­signs on More 4 and, of course, you must cope with bouts of envy and in­ad­e­quacy when you see the house of your dreams.

De­struc­tive thoughts like “Why don’t I live in a £2m manor house? I’m such a fail­ure” and “I need to win the Lot­tery” race through your head.

That kind of ad­dic­tion is what launched Peter Man­de­field into the world of ren­o­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment, but he has a cau­tion­ary tale for those look­ing to fol­low his move from arm­chair to build­ing site.

He has just emerged from a three-year prop­erty night­mare that dam­aged his health and left his fi­nances se­verely de­pleted. Only luck and two builders in shin­ing ar­mour saved him from com­plete dis­as­ter.

His prob­lems started when he spot­ted a site in Nawton, Kirk­by­moor­side, with out­line plan­ning per­mis­sion for 17 houses in­clud­ing six af­ford­able homes

Feel­ing sure he could per­suade plan­ners to drop the sec­tion 106 agree­ment for af­ford­able hous­ing to five prop­er­ties, to be man­aged by a hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion, he bought it three years ago and pre­pared a new ap­pli­ca­tion.

His con­fi­dence was buoyed by pre­vi­ous suc­cesses. A me­chanic who worked his way up to divi­sional man­ager for a car sales busi­ness, he be­gan with a selfbuild then worked his way up to de­vel­op­ing small sites.

“I found that the skills I had gained in the mo­tor trade re­ally helped with prop­erty de­vel­op­ment. A lot of it is peo­ple skills. Once you’ve got plan­ning per­mis­sion, it’s about get­ting men and ma­te­ri­als to site at the right time at the right price.

“It’s about man­ag­ing peo­ple and ne­go­ti­at­ing with man­u­fac­tur­ers,” says Peter.

But plan­ning per­mis­sion on the site, which also de­manded a £100,000 road widen­ing scheme, be­came a ma­jor is­sue for him.

Al­though he had spo­ken to the lo­cal au­thor­ity, val­uers and agents be­fore buy­ing the land, he was un­able to get what he wanted and there­fore the num­bers did not stack up. The un­vi­able plot lay fal­low along with the £500,000 he had in­vested in it.

His case wasn’t helped by vol­ume builders who wanted to build on green­field sites and were of­fer­ing the coun­cil a higher per­cent­age of af­ford­able homes.

“I thought I’d done due dili­gence and that the plan­ners would be happy to re­duce the af­ford­able el­e­ment, es­pe­cially as I was also hav­ing to widen the road. It was ob­vi­ous that no-one could make the site pay with­out a re­duc­tion in the af­ford­able quota.

“Look­ing back, the big mis­take I made was to ex­change con­tracts with the seller with­out the pro­viso that I would buy it sub­ject to get­ting re­vised plan­ning per­mis­sion,” says Peter.

Mean­while, in­ter­est pay­ments on the money he bor­rowed to buy the land were crip­pling.

“I was pay­ing £800 a week to watch weeds grow,” he says. “I ended up go­ing back to work for the mo­tor dealer to earn some money but the stress of the sit­u­a­tion was mak­ing me ill.

“It was a mill­stone round my neck. At one point I asked if I could build the af­ford­able homes in brick rather than stone to cut the cost. I also ap­pealed against the de­ci­sion and was turned down. Two months later and the plan­ning rules na­tion­ally were soft­ened. Had I ap­pealed then I would’ve won. That was a very low mo­ment.”

He bat­tled on with another ap­pli­ca­tion for 21 houses with seven af­ford­able for lo­cal res­i­dents only and was eu­phoric af­ter win­ning per­mis­sion, only to have the bank re­nege on their prom­ise of fund­ing for the build.

“It was a night­mare,” he says. “They said the gear­ing was wrong. To cap it all I also had an in­vestor who pulled out too.”

Res­cue came from lo­cal builders Dan Warrington and his fa­ther John, who agreed to a joint ven­ture. Work on site started this spring and the first homes are now on the mar­ket. A three bed­room house costs from £199,950 to £250,000.

“It has been a real roller­coaster and I know have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that. A lot of it was ig­no­rance on my part. Buy­ing the site was a gam­ble and it’s not the sort of risk I would take again,” says Peter.

“But I’m glad I per­se­vered. I reckon I have spent 3,500 hours on this site but it’s been worth it be­cause I’ve got a happy end­ing. Dan is a bril­liant builder and he and I have sim­i­lar ideas on de­sign and we work re­ally well to­gether. In fact, we’re look­ing at other sites to de­velop be­cause our com­bined skills have been a great as­set.”

He adds: “This ex­pe­ri­ence hasn’t damp­ened my love of prop­erty at all, but it has taught me a lot. This is such a nice site I al­lowed my heart to rule my head and I won’t let that hap­pen again.”

The Sid­ings at Nawton, near Kirk­by­moor­side, is by Am­ble­side Homes and in­cludes houses and bun­ga­lows. Prices range from £199,950 to £279,950, There is an open weekend at the site to­day and tomorrow and Oc­to­ber 5 and 6. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.am­bleside­homes.com

PEACE­FUL SET­TING: Gate­forth Hall, built in 1812 as a shoot­ing lodge, was once used a ho­tel and night­club. Now it’s a stun­ning fam­ily home with 10,000 sq ft of space. Its bowed en­trance with gi­ant ionic col­umns over­looks a sweep­ing tree-lined drive, and there are views over open coun­try­side.

ROLLER­COASTER: Peter Man­de­field has a cau­tion­ary tale for those wish­ing to go into prop­erty de­vel­op­ment af­ter his ex­pe­ri­ences in Nawton.

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