Off-grid railway house earmarked for demolition finds new owner to save it

Blackstock Cottage East Suffolk Rail Line cross near Campsea Ashe

Blackstock Cottage - saved from the bulldozers - Credit: Clarke & Simpson

A run-down railway crossing cottage has been granted a new lease of life after being sold by the council that owned it.

Blackstock Cottage - an off-grid property with no mains electricity, no mains gas, no sewerage, and a private water supply - had been earmarked for demolition and replacement with a new house.

But after the former railway signalman's cottage was auctioned, with starting bids from £95,000, the new owners have decided to keep it and renovate it.

The deal was enabled by East Suffolk Council, which had identified the property just north of Campsea Ashe, near Wickham Market, as needing significant investment in repair and improvement.

The council bought it as a property of concern from the previous owner, following a lengthy process whereby the council supported the owner to try to find the best solution for his off-grid rural property, which was in poor repair and deteriorating.

Blackstock Cottage is set for a renovation project and may become a holiday let

Blackstock Cottage is set for a renovation project and may become a holiday let - Credit: East Suffolk Council

After the owner moved to a new home in a nearby town, and between purchase and sale, the council obtained outline planning permission for the demolition of the property and development of a new dwelling – this being seen as the most appropriate course of action for the site.

In November, the cottage was sold via online auction by Clarke & Simpson and was purchased by Alex Ogilvie and her family, who loved the history of the building and are keen to keep it as a renovation project and potential holiday rental.

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East Suffolk Council's development strategy includes the proactive acquisition of housing for redevelopment opportunities to either add to its housing stock or move on to other development opportunities, while contributing to the economic regeneration of the district.

Other recent examples of acquisitions include the former Lowestoft Post Office site and a former house in multiple occupation in London Road South, Lowestoft, both earmarked for housing solutions.

Richard Kerry, council cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: "This is another great example of what can be achieved with our development strategy.

"The procurement approach supports the wider social value objectives of the council. We aim to promote well-managed and maintained homes, while working in partnership to support successful communities, regeneration and economic development."