Bargain Hunter

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If you go down to the woods today...

EAST LODGE has not been lived in since before the last war and is hidden, Hansel-and-Gretel style, deep in the woods near the River Alde in Suffolk. It is easy to miss it. If the Victorian cottage was not already there, it is almost certain planning permission wouldn't be given for a new home on this land. However, the planners have indicated that re-occupation is acceptable. The lodge would need a complete renovation and the trees taken back to reveal its ornate bargeboards and portico. A grant might be possible as it would need a kitchen and bathroom. Its seclusion and lack of amenities has not discouraged a flood of interest in the property, which comes with 51 acres of woodland, meadows and heath. All for pounds 175,000 through Savills (01473 226191).



Power to the people

FANCY LIVING in a hothouse? Do you always leave your lights on when you go out? Always wanted to live in a drafty rectory but balked at the heating costs?

From now on this need not be a problem for London homeowners - at least for the next three years - thanks to a new mortgage recently launched by the Alliance & Leicester. The Alliance has teamed up with London Electricity to offer free energy - both gas and electricity - to anyone taking out its mortgage, which includes a one-per-cent discount from the cost of its standard variable rate for the next three years. The former society estimates that some borrowers could save up to pounds 2,000, with average savings in the region of pounds 540 a year. While limited to London, the Alliance hopes to take it nationwide from next year. Call 0845 3033000.

Nic Cicutti


Something sporty - and affordable

ITALIAN SPORTS cars have undergone something of a renaissance recently. They may have been stylish, fast and cool, but they also broke down, rusted and were worth next to nothing after a few years. Not any more.

The Fiat Coupe and Alfa Romeo GTV have put the Italian sports car firmly back on the map. However, recent talk in the trade has been of falling prices as supply meets demand. But dealers can still rely on customers falling in love with an Alfa, and charge accordingly. So it was refreshing to see a P-registered GTV advertised by Stephen Billau & Sons in Darlington (01325 281331) at pounds 16,995. It had covered 32,000 miles and had one previous owner. The cheapest GTV I've seen that isn't a left-hand drive import. Buy it.