A tale of two villages ... and a parking problem

You wouldn't think it would be an issue in the country, but many buyers demand parking right on their doorstep - and are prepared to pay a premium for it. Jenny Knight reports on how a garage added £65,000 to one Surrey home
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Four pretty cottages have gone unsold because buyers will have to walk 100 yards from the parking place to their front door. Now the builder, who renovated the Grade-II listed cottages in the chocolate-box village of Long Melford, Suffolk, is slashing the price of £255,000 by £15,000 - and throwing in a free bike for buyers.

Meanwhile, in the village of Shere in the Surrey hills, another listed cottage has had its price revised upwards by £65,000, because it is one of the few houses in the village with private parking.

The tale of the two villages reveals that parking problems are not confined to urban streets; indeed, finding a space for your car near a village property is often even more important in rural locations where other forms of transport are simply not available.

But the four Scrutchers Cottages in Long Melford have parking spaces - the problem is simply that they are not directly outside each property. Todd Lewis, of selling agents Mullucks Wells, says: "People seem to treat their cars as members of the family. In all honesty, parking is not a problem in Long Melford. There is unrestricted parking on the High Street. Owners of some large Georgian houses lower down Scrutchers Alley also have to park on the High Street, but they can see their cars from their windows. Maybe that makes the difference. They can look out of the window and know their pride and joy is safe. Not that Long Melford is a hot spot of vandalism or car theft - it isn't."

Initially, Lewis thought that the white weather-boarded cottages would sell almost as soon as he put their pictures in the window. He was wrong. The 100-yard walk is proving to be exactly 99 yards too far for most buyers, even though the village is well equipped, with a co-op, dentist, chemist, cashpoint and doctor as well as three supermarkets, all of which deliver. People who commute, however, would need a car to get to Sudbury station, where parking is free and trains into London take 75 minutes.

Lewis says: "I was amazed the cottages didn't sell. A builder has virtually re-built them, so they now have three bedrooms, three loos and three baths, 80-foot gardens and no passing traffic."

Meanwhile, Michael Oury from estate agents Browns has decided that Vaughans, the quaint, beamed, four-bedroom cottage he is selling in Shere is worth £575,000 - some £65,000 of which is the premium charged for the garage.

"Vaughans is believed to date back to 1550 and was formerly the village bakery," Oury explains. "It is on the square, which is actually a triangle of grass at the centre of the village. Shere is the most lovely period village but it has a lot of antique shops and at weekends is flooded with people shopping and hikers making for the hills. Although the village is tiny it can get grid-locked. Most houses have no private parking and people park on the roads or pavements. Vaughans has an inside garage and a parking space on the road leading to the garage which other people cannot use because they would obstruct the garage. There are no parking restrictions in the village, but you never know when or if they will arrive."

Owner Victoria Theobald says: "Vaughans has been in our family for 50 years. When we moved in a lot needed to be done, so we added a garage while doing the other work. It didn't surprise me when the agent said the garage was our big plus point and told us how much value it added. We are moving for more space and a bigger garden, but top of my wish list for the next home is a parking space right outside the house, and a garage."

Mullucks Wells: 01787 319319

Browns: 01483 531166

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