August 1, 2022 9.45 pm

Ruined rural cottage to go for auction for £10k after legal battle

It’s been costing £1,400 a month just to stop it falling down

By Local Democracy Reporter

The asking price on a tumbledown ‘monstrosity’ will be slashed when it goes to auction following a legal battle.

Toll House Cottage on Bourne Road near Folkingham is being held up with scaffolding and encased in plastic wrapping, and has been derelict for at least 15 years.

South Kesteven District Council will be asking just for £10,000 for it, down from £78,000 when it last went up for auction unsuccessfully.

Thousands of pounds in public money have been spent over the last few years as the council was forced to stop the Grade II listed property from falling down.

A local councillor who has called for something to be done for years hopes to see a new project “rise from the ashes like a phoenix.”

The council secured an order to sell the Folkingham property last year due to the owner’s outstanding debt.

However, he protested that the reserve price of £10,000 recommended by a chartered surveyor would be “basically giving the property away”.

Toll House Cottage pictured in 2009 before scaffolding was erected | Photo: Google

The case went to Lincolnshire County Court on Friday, where the judge agreed with the lower price tag.

Ward Councillor Jan Hansen said: “I have been asking what is happening with the building for seven or eight years, long before I became a councillor. People constantly say ‘What’s that mess on the hill?’ It is effectively a bombsite now.

“Hopefully it is marketed well and can get a good price at auction.

“Local people would be happy if it was demolished and replaced with a traditional old fashioned-looking cottage. I would like to see it rise from the ashes like a phoenix – better than the monstrosity that’s there now.”

Martha Wise, representing South Kesteven District Council, told the court: “It is costing the council £1,400 a month in scaffolding costs, so is an ongoing financial burden. There are more pressing issues on which to spend public money.

“It will have to be demolished, which will require de-listing and planning applications. It is an unattractive proposition.”

David Rogerson, the solicitor for the property owner, said his client felt that “£10,000 would be basically given the property away.”

“It’s a not insignificant plot. £10,000 is such a low figure. There should be an opportunity for a minimum sale value in between [the two values],” he said.

The debate over how much to put the property up for auction for was heard at Lincoln County Court | Photo: File/The Lincolnite

Extracts read out from a report by Pygott & Crone said the building’s condition was “poor and derelict”, “stabilised with scaffolding”, and had “urgent structural defects.”

Deputy District Judge Morris sided with the council, saying he had to accept the value from the estate agent.

“There’s no evidence it would attract a greater value. There are financial hurdles for any developer before it becomes a building plot,” he said.

“The property market isn’t booming as it was post-Covid. It’s flattening and may be in decline.”

A charging order, in which debt is secured against a property, was made in March 2021. This was followed by an order to sell in November when the debts weren’t cleared.

The council says it hopes to recover the costs of the scaffolding when the property is sold.

Councillor Robert Reid, Cabinet Member for Housing and Property: “A notice was served to the owner of Toll House Cottage, Folkingham, several years ago to protect this listed building.

“Regrettably, the necessary repair work was not undertaken so SKDC arranged installation of scaffolding, originally paid for by the owner, to prevent further deterioration.

“Although the owner is no longer covering the cost of the scaffolding, an Order for Sale has been granted to encourage a new purchaser to take on and improve the site, and through this SKDC would expect to recover its costs.”

The house was built in the late 1800s, and was listed in 1987.