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Travel: Paying the rent

MOST people won't know that the expression 'peppercorn rent' can be taken literally. But freeholders with a sense of humour may demand any form of rent payment from their lessees. The most eccentric rents seem to be on rural estates where payment is based on local produce - lobsters for a Scottish croft, pheasants for a gamekeeper's house, and so on.

Such traditions also exist in towns. In Wigston, a suburb of Leicester, the ground rent on the Framework Knitters Cottage and Frameshop is, appropriately, two knitted socks. The landlord, Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, has just doubled the rent - previously only one sock was required.

The most romantic must be the ground rent for Flat 5A, 3-5 Lansdowne Road, Kensington, a two-bedroom apartment on the market through Cluttons at pounds 400,000. The landlord, who must have been in love when drawing up the lease, requires a single red rose on midsummer's day.

RESIDENTS in some parts of the country will be in for a shock when their local council publishes its draft plans. Under the Planning & Compensation Act 1991, all local authorities in England and Wales have to prepare new plans by 1996, which, once adopted, will be the blueprint for future development.

In the Leicestershire villages of Billesdon, Great Glenn and Kibworth, residents are up in arms about a proposal to allocate land for new houses. Edward Garnier, Conservative MP for Harborough, is leading a protest against the draft plan and has some tips for other would-be objectors: 'It is no good simply saying you don't like it. You have got to say, 'I don't like it for the following reasons: it will have adverse effects on local transport, environment, drainage, schools and so on'.'

Objecting at an early stage will give the protesters a good chance of influencing the final plan. If it is not altered to take in their objections, Mr Garnier is prepared to present the residents' argument at a public inquiry.

Residents in other areas take note - there is a draft local plan being prepared near you and it may propose a housing estate in your favourite field.

Anne Spackman returns next week.