So you want to live... in a converted fort

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The Independent Online

Coastal or inland?

Coastal or inland?

Coastal. Fort Picklecombe was a complex bristling with huge, recessed gun emplacements. It formed part of a sea-facing network of forts designed to protect Plymouth Sound from the raging hordes of would-be Napoleonic invaders, in the mid-19th century.

When was it converted?

It continued to operate as a fort until the Twenties, before being abandoned. But with the outbreak of the Second World War the fort became an artillery battery, before being sold off for redevelopment at the end of the war. It wasn't actually converted until the Seventies, when the 103 apartments on five levels were developed - most of these are within the original gun embrasures.

So I'd be living in a gun emplacement?

Basically, yes. The living room would have housed one of the huge defensive guns and it still retains some of the fixtures, such as a giant concrete hook in the ceiling. Although with the placement comes a rather panoramic (and militarily strategic) view of Portsmouth Sound from the balcony end of the lounge. The apartment also contains two medium-sized bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen in need of an upgrade.

So are we talking oodles of military minimalism?

Admittedly, the décor is not exactly lavish - gun emplacements were never known for their homely appeal - but future owners will be able to add a dash of comfort to the austere interior. This level of furnishing is reflected in the price - more on that later.

How does the rest of the fort shape up?

Well, it's quite the little community, with its own management company that all residents have a stake in, which is a strong-point of the property. It has its own harbour, pool, tennis courts, beach and Italian-styled gardens (looked on to by both bedrooms). Ideal perhaps for elderly couples - with lift access to all floors and easy parking - or those looking for a holiday home by the sea.

Do I get a lot of bang for my buck?

The apartment, in Fort Picklecombe, on the Maker peninsula, is for sale at the knockdown price of £215,000 from Bradford & Bingley (01752 813189). The agents admit that the property could do with some work, reflecting a £25,000 reduction off the original price, to allow for extensive refurbishment.

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