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What was the surprise for this Norfolk couple when they tried to build their dream home?

PUBLISHED: 09:09 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:18 05 July 2018

Karen and Kevin Keable: building their own home and giving 14 other people the chance to do so too. Pic: Kevin Keable

Karen and Kevin Keable: building their own home and giving 14 other people the chance to do so too. Pic: Kevin Keable

When Karen and Kevin Keable tried to build their own house on land at the rear of their country home in Bracon Ash, near Mulbarton, south of Norwich, they got a bit of a surprise. Property editor Caroline Culot went to interview them to find out more.

Karen and Kevin Keable; building their own home and giving 14 other people the chance to do this too. Pic: Kevin Keable.Karen and Kevin Keable; building their own home and giving 14 other people the chance to do this too. Pic: Kevin Keable.

Yes, the couple were advised, you can build your dream home but you could build 14 more too!

It just wasn’t considered likely that the couple, who live in Bracon Lodge, would get planning permission to build just one new home on the five acre site - but should try to get planning permission for 15 self build plots which was rather more than they’d originally intended.

“However, once we realised what was possible, we became more excited about the fact that we would be enabling other self-builders and could build a small community, which is already showing signs of developing,” said Mrs Keable, 52, an artist.

So, rather than be deterred and see their dream of building a home from scratch ruined, the couple decided to go ahead with the project.

An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.

Two years on, and about £100,000 spent, Long Four Acres, a ‘vibrant community within a leafy countryside setting’ has only five plots left for sale priced from £255,000.

“Unlike some developers, we have a vested interest in making this work because we want to live there ourselves, we want it to be beautiful,” said Mrs Keable. “We always wanted to build our own home but the problem was finding somewhere as lovely to live as we do already,” said Mr Keable, 55, who worked in the oil business but is now co-owner of Long Four Acres Limited, the company they set up to create this development.

Despite its name, Long Four Acres is actually a five acre field separated by another field from the Keables’ period home on the edge of Bracon Ash in south Norfolk, which they eventually plan to sell. The couple bought the land with Bracon Lodge nine years ago and never had any use for it, until now.

An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.

An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.An artist's impression of how Long Four Acres will look. Pic: Kevin Keable.

Norwich-based planning consultants Lanpro advised the couple that it was unlikely the council would give planning for one home on such a big site but had the vision to create a site to become an ‘examplar’ self build comminity, much more acceptable to planning policies and meet the huge demand for plots.

How the plot at Long Four Acres looks at the moment. Pic: Kevin Keable.How the plot at Long Four Acres looks at the moment. Pic: Kevin Keable.

The idea is you pick your plot which are all a good size and which will have servicing, roads and infrastructure in place.

All plots will enable home builders to build a wide variety of designs and outline planning permission has been granted.

Each plot has a design code and a ‘plot passport’ in place to help with some of the criteria which needs to be adhered to such as the footprint and building materials used. For example, each plot has a generous ‘build zone’ (these vary from plot to plot) within which the plot owner is given a maximum developable footprint.

Long Four AcresLong Four Acres

Other minor restrictions apply to things like no parking on the avenue, wall mounted meter locations, the location of bins, satellite dishes, the planting and maintenance of hedgerows and the distance to boundaries - all to ensure Long Four Acres is a beautiful scheme reflecting its stunning location.

As long as the build conforms to these criteria, people can build the home they want. Some are opting for a Passivhaus model - which creates a super energy efficient home which can save you money on heating and cooling costs. The Keables themselves are working on a house which is heavily influenced by the Georgian period in design yet incorporates very modern features too.

Chris Leeming, managing director of Norwich-based planning consultants Lanpro said: “We were very pleased to be approached by the Keables to help them deliver this exemplar scheme in Norfolk. There is a strong demand from people wanting to build their own home and this location, along with a bespoke design solution, has provided a wonderful opportunity to deliver something special. The way in which this project has come to fruition has resulted in one of the leading self-build schemes in the country.”

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, has also pledged his support in writing for the scheme. The Keables have teamed up with various organisations to help with the design, planning and construction of the houses.

For example, purchasers can obtain advice from self build finance experts, BuildStore.

BuildStore has successfully pre-agreed lending with a panel of specialist lenders operating in the self and custom build sector.

The Keables have also amassed a support team of nationally acclaimed architects, homebuilders, suppliers and interior designers to support purchasers. Many of these contacts were already known associates of the couple and some were introduced by Custom Build Homes, a BuildStore company whose sales and marketing platform is being used to sell the plots at Long Four Acres. However, purchasers do not have to work alongside the recommended support team; they can appoint their own design team and create their own plans which will need to be submitted for full detailed planning approval to South Norfolk Council.

So, you can talk to the self build team and get financial advice before reserving your plot after which you will need to submit your detailed plans to the council and should receive the result in eight to 10 weeks. Once your planning permission has been granted and you complete the purchase of the plot, you can instruct your team to start building.

If you are interested in buying one of the remaining plots, see www.custombuildhomes.co.uk or contact Kevin Keable by emailing him at info@longfouracres.com


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