Visiting Utopias

Kate and I went on a sortie into Kent on Friday. We saw three sites and here is a brief reflection on the whole process.

We went to Higham, above Rochester in Kent, to Hadlow near Tonbridge in Kent and then back to Forest Hill, the old Devonshire Road post office.

Higham provided us with food for thought. There was a so-called bungalow, in fact an old cottage, where a woman of 80 plus lived on one floor. There was scope for development, and planning permission to do so. The garden was one and a third acres and the land was very sloping. The plot would be a challenge to build on, as I see it, but then I am no engineer or architect. The position of the property was very special, near a public footpath and at the top of a hill, Telegraph Hill from where the views are spectacular. Plenty of other people like the view and have built in the same little area.

North Kent is different to other parts of Kent, and Medway has a special different feel as there are industrial sites, maritime history and a very diverse population.

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Hadlow is a more prosperous part of the county and the field and barns there inspired plenty of dreaming about future building. There was again loads of potential for development, much more space and a lot of interesting possibilities including old garden wall, and planning permission to convert a barn into a 5 bed house. The field was behind other properties and had a real feeling of space, in contrast to the Higham spot which was boxed in by other houses.

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Devonshire Road post office was fascinating. A good size site but my word the building was in a terrible state. No doubt meat and drink to developers but it seemed a daunting if intriguing prospect to think of taking it on. Planning permission again obtained for what both Kate felt were too many dwellings for the size of the site.

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\We had plenty of time to explore the Hoo peninsula as well, north of the Medway, between Medway and Thames rivers. This is an out of the way spot, with plenty of marshes and rusting hulls. Quite an atmosphere of river and birds, and a reasonable bus service from Chatham and Rochester. I am familiar with this part of the county as I work in Chatham and have plenty of colleagues who know the area well.

 

The old London vs the country question dominates in my mind but Kate and I did think one could have the possibility of a time share arrangement allowing projects to grow both in London and outside. For more discussion.

The idea of taking on a nursing home which has fallen on hard times is also kicking around. There are options that friends and relatives have mentioned. One in the New Forest and one in Headcorn, near Ashford in Kent. Kate and I are hoping to get to see a site in Hastingleigh, near Wye in Kent which is a selection of 5 holiday homes round a court yard and would not need so much work to get to a stage where we could give this idea a go. The idea of a trial property surfaced in our minds as we sped through the lanes, so that we could take somewhere on and try this project for size before committing to a long term project.

If you feel like having a look at somewhere that has been recommended by a colleague, which gives an idea of existing housing “solutions” this is one of very many places run by Peverel:

 

 

 

Jane

 

 

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