Why I want tumbledown cottage

To the casual eye, the dilapidated, tumbledown cottage hidden behind sky-high weeds is an unsavable mess, crumbling at the very touch. But to property developer Chris Burnard it is merely a challenge - and if he has his way, will sooner or later become a highly-desirable home completely restored to its original 16th century design.

To the casual eye, the dilapidated, tumbledown cottage hidden behind sky-high weeds is an unsavable mess, crumbling at the very touch.

But to property developer Chris Burnard it is merely a challenge - and if he has his way, will sooner or later become a highly-desirable home completely restored to its original 16th century design.

Mr Burnard, who started developing property at a young age and now has an impressive portfolio across south Norfolk, readily admits it's his biggest-ever gamble.

On Friday, he paid £85,000 for the cottage remains, along with two-and-a-half acres of surrounding land in Hoxne, near Eye, despite Mid Suffolk District Council previously stating it was unlikely it would ever grant planning permission to develop there.

The 44-year-old could be left with a very expensive mistake - but that has not stopped him already planning how he wants the cottage to develop if he gets his way and persuades the council to reverse its policy.

"I want to rebuild it exactly

Most Read

as it was - a sixteenth century timber-framed cottage

complete with duck pond in the garden."

Before he can do that though, he needs to find someone who remembers what the cottage used to look like before it fell into disrepair, and plans to consult village elders and hope someone has an old photograph he can work from.

He estimates the work will take a year, demolishing what remains of the cottage and starting again completely from scratch.

But before he can start on that, Mr Burnard has to begin what could be a long war of attrition against the district council, which is refusing to grant permission for the Grade II-listed remains to be

demolished.

"My company specialises in bringing traditional buildings back to life but this will be my greatest challenge," he said.

"It will probably involve

quite a big battle with Mid Suffolk District Council, but I can't see any reason why they would prefer to have these dangerous remains here

instead of a high-quality, traditionally-built new

cottage."

The developer said he would have paid up to £100,000 for the site and could stand to lose every penny unless the council backtracks and allows development - but if it does, he reckons the cottage he wants to build could then sell for at least £400,000.

"It's a gamble, but a gamble worth taking," he added.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter