Villager in uproar at fields sale

By Richard GossA LAND company has caused uproar after buying up fields and offering tiny plots to people who hope one day they will be able to build on them.

By Richard Goss

A LAND company has caused uproar after buying up fields and offering tiny plots to people who hope one day they will be able to build on them.

The firm has purchased more than 50 acres of land in Stisted, near Braintree, and a team of 20 employees parcelled off the fields at the weekend into 234 individual plots with stakes and twine.

The following day scores of people arrived at the site to view the land, but villagers were outraged the landscape could be ruined forever and the farmer who sold it is furious.

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Now angry residents in Stisted are arranging an emergency meeting in the village hall to see if they could block the plan, which could net the new owners more than £1 million profit.

The 54-acre fields were sold by farmer David McMillan for almost £3,000 an acre, but their resale value as individual plots of one-tenth of an acre at up to £5,000 each will see a return of almost £1.5m.

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But the Sussex-based company Gladwish Land Sales has warned would-be buyers the plots do not have planning permission for redevelopment.

One visitor to the site was Anthony Calinikos, who had driven more than 50 miles with a view to buying one of the plots.

Mr Calinikos said: “I am seriously considering buying a plot as an investment. Land in this country has never gone down in value and with the Government wanting to build thousands of new homes in this area, who knows?

“It is certainly worth an investment of a few thousand and in the meantime I could use it as an amenity area for my family to use for picnics.”

But villagers fear even if planning permission for development is refused, the land could still be used for a variety of purposes - including temporary caravan sites, green burials and car boot sales.

Edward May, of neighbouring Lucas Cottage, who tried to buy the land, said a poster campaign had already been launched in the village and hoardings put up warning would-be buyers to think again.

He said: “People are up in arms about this, it is not going to go away. The whole site could be covered in weeds and become a complete jungle. People could put caravans on there and ruin the wildlife, it can't be allowed.

“I would like to farm the land - it is farmland and as farmers, we are trying to scratch a living from the land.”

Mr McMillan said he had no idea the 54 acres he sold were to be split up and sold in small plots and added he would not have sold the fields if he had known that would be the case.

Victor Gladwish, sole proprietor of Gladwish Land Sales, said he thought only 1% of the land would be used for housing development.

“We sell the land as farmland and not specifically for housing. People can use it for growing things,” he added.

Gladwish Land Sales, based in Horsham, said its website it had more than 1,700 plots at 69 locations on its books, mainly in the South-East and West Country, including one on Suffolk and one in Norfolk.

It claimed the value of the plots was almost £15m and to have sold £4.7m-worth in 2001-2002.

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