House Hunter: 'Our children need space to romp'

Angus and Liz Roper want to escape from London, but still need easy access to Birmingham and the capital. Their budget is £750,000
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The Independent Online

THE PROBLEM

THE PROBLEM

"We have a growing family and have decided that the time has come to move out of our Edwardian terrace in south London. Angus will be commuting into Birmingham on a daily basis, but will also need to frequent the head office in London. We want to be in an area that offers us a good choice of schools for our family, Leo, five, Sophie two, and the possibility of more to come!

"We want lots of space and have in our minds a rambling farmhouse or rectory with enough land for a pony paddock, and for dogs and children to romp safely. We don't want to be too isolated, so an edge of village location would be ideal. We think it's important for the village to be a thriving one, offering opportunities to meet new people, so church, pub and shop are important. We both enjoy the countryside, but also would like to be within easy reach of culture, particularly concerts. We want Angus's commute to be around half an hour, for there to be a sensible driving route to London, and, ideally, an alternative train route.

"We need plenty of accommodation as we would love to fill the house at weekends with friends. Angus needs an office at home, we need room for a nanny in the event that I return to work, and I dream of a farmhouse kitchen that can be the centre of family life and also provide space to indulge my love of cooking."

THREE PROPERTIES FOR ANGUS AND LIZ TO VIEW

Property one: Barrington House, Bishops Frome, Herefordshire.
Price: £675,000.
Agent: Humberts: 01432 278278, www.humberts.co.uk.
Agent's details: A substantial former rectory, approached from a private driveway and adjoining open countryside on the edge of the village of Bishops Frome. Benefiting from extensive open views, it has seven bedrooms as well as a five-bedroom self-contained flat, and mature gardens extending to approximately one acre.

Property two: Lantern Lodge, Wellington Heath, Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Price: £645,000.
Agent: Knight Frank: 01905 723438, www.knightfrank.com.
Agent's details: Originally a farmhouse, this fascinating lodge is in an elevated position above the market town of Ledbury. The house has a porch, music room, drawing room, kitchen/ sitting room, conservatory, dining room and utility. There are six bedrooms, four bathrooms, storerooms, cellars, outbuildings and garaging. The house has attractive gardens and a paddock and is set in around two acres of land.

Property three: Old Parsonage Farm, Hanley Castle, Worcestershire.
Price: £735,000.
Agent: Andrew Grant:
01905 24477, www.andrew-grant.co.uk.
Agent's details: A late 18th-century house of about 5,000sqft set in 1.25 acres. The house has a hall, two cloakrooms, sitting room, drawing room, dining room, kitchen/breakfast room and utility plus a large first-floor reception room. There are six bedrooms, two with en-suite bathrooms, and a family bathroom. There is also a garage and games room.

JAYNE PERKS'S ADVICE

"The area around Malvern is ideal for a family like the Ropers. There is a fantastic choice of schools in the area, both private and state, and prices in the counties of Worcestershire and Herefordshire are significantly lower than in neighbouring Warwickshire, so the Ropers' budget will buy them a large property with the land they need. Birmingham is just over 30 miles from Malvern, and London is about 100 miles. The M5 is easily accessible, and there is a main line railway station in Malvern with a fast service into London Paddington.

"The Malvern Hills are a beautiful, unspoilt area of countryside with fantastic walking and riding opportunities, as well as really stunning views. The icing on the cake for the Ropers is that Malvern's renowned theatre is also the home of the English String Orchestra, and Malvern's famous residents past and present include Elgar and Nigel Kennedy.

"Barrington House, at Bishops Frome, is a former rectory and is well situated on the edge of the village with lovely views. There is masses of accommodation in the house - even a substantial self-contained flat - and the price will still leave enough in the budget to completely refit the kitchen to meet Liz's high standards. All the hard work has been done on the house, but there are still possibilities for the Ropers to add their personal touch cosmetically. The property only has one acre, but we feel confident we could either buy or rent additional land locally on their behalf. There is a kitchen garden with numerous fruit trees that would provide Liz with plenty of jam and chutney ingredients.

"Lantern Lodge, near Ledbury, in Herefordshire, used to be a farmhouse on a large estate. Now most of the land has been sold off and the house has been left with a perfectly packaged two acres of grounds, including a paddock. There's a wonderful farmhouse kitchen, an office has been created in an adjacent outbuilding, and there is plenty of scope for adding further accommodation in other outbuildings, to make a separate guest suite or family annexe.

"Old Parsonage Farm at Hanley Castle in Worcestershire has been finished to an exceptionally high standard and is in an absolutely pristine condition. There's a large kitchen/breakfast room with a fireplace and extensive cellarage, some of which is already used as an office, and the remainder could be remodelled to serve a number of different uses."

Jayne Perks is regional director of Stacks property search and acquisition: 01684 833870, jayneperks@stacks.co.uk

THE VERDICT

"Given the breadth of options we had in our initial brief, Jayne has been very helpful in identifying this area as the one that meets our needs and falls within our price bracket. The fact that Malvern has such strong links with music and theatre is a huge bonus.

"We've fallen in love with the Malvern Hills, and the houses she has shown us so far have excited us enormously. It has been very reassuring having someone on our side who knows the area so intimately. Jayne helped us to focus on what was really important. We could otherwise have floundered in the enormity of the task of relocating this far from home. But we're spoilt for choice and now can't wait to move!"

Interviews by Ginetta Vedrickas

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail with full details househunter@independent.co.uk

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