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IT DOES seem more than a little surprising that after all the talk of conservation and sympathetic building in the countryside, an Exmoor village should be fighting plans for a development of houses more suited to suburban Surrey than rural Somerset.

Roadwater, a long straggly village, has a character that would be altered by the building of 12 executive-type homes on an open plot at its heart. Local residents are pinning their hopes on changes being made to the plans. They argue it is not "Nimbyism" - they would welcome smaller houses, even a mixed use, but nothing on the present scale, which even includes pavements and street lighting.

Where they are not alone is in suffering from a bad planning decision made in less sensitive times. It contravenes Exmoor's most recent policies and Neil Pope, its planning officer, agrees that it would not be approved today and clearly hopes to salvage what he can from the ill-thought-out situation he has inherited.

John Nethercott, for the Council for the Protection of Rural England in West Somerset, says it is the last big site on Exmoor and should produce something of which the village could be proud.

So despite pronouncements from the Government, conservationists and planners, the Roadwaters of this world must go into the next century with a scheme in tow that everyone, bar the developer, deplores. There is always, of course, a way out through compensation. Who would pay it, though, is the argument. So what better way for a Millennium Fund to spend its money than to buy out a horrible mistake that could end up as a permanent memorial to 20th century insensitivity.

MORE scenes of buyers queuing to snap up well priced flats in London, but this time it is to the east of the city. At Greenwich Heights, a 10- storey block with views over the City and the Millennium Dome, half the entire first phase went under offer last weekend at prices from pounds 49,000 to pounds 114,500. As a result, the second phase has been brought forward from the autumn to this weekend. Agents FPD Savills: 0171-456 6800.

COUNTRY cottages, which for a while represented better value for money than larger country houses earmarked by affluent Londoners, have been increasing in price recently. In Hampshire, where thatched cottages have always commanded a premium, there are two Grade II-listed properties on the market through agents Lane Fox. Asking price for Box Cottage in Upper Wield is pounds 235,000 and for Queens Meadow in Monk Sherborne, pounds 325,000.

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