Abandoned land transformed into two properties on Homes Under The Hammer


A plot of land described as “pretty perplexing” and “a little bit different” has featured on BBC’s Homes Under the Hammer.

Presenter Dion Dublin visited the Meir site which had been left empty for several decades after houses were demolished.

The land was bought at auction by a property developer who had previously featured on the show.

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Upon arrival, Dion said: “I’m not off to see a house, or a flat, it’s actually this piece of land and a good size piece of land as well.

“If you can believe it, the guide price at auction was £20,000! For this…20! Wow.”



What was left of the site from across the street following demolition
What was left of the site from across the street following demolition

He was left staggered by the amount of space available in such a well built-up area.

“It’s pretty rare to find a piece of land, like this, of this size, 0.07 of an acre, in a residential area like this.



A lot of debris would need to be removed to complete the build
A lot of debris would need to be removed to complete the build

“The big question is, its big enough for one house, it could be big enough for two houses, but why aren’t there any houses here?”

The site did once come with planning permission for two separate dwellings, but those plans had expired, meaning new permissions would need to be granted.

Dion added: “There’s no reason why you couldn’t get planning permission again, but it’s very much start from scratch.”



Shobhit was confident he could tackle the challenge
Shobhit was confident he could tackle the challenge

Some of the key issues centred around sorting out the foundations and clearing the masses of debris from the site itself.

Utilities posed little problems however, as the street in Meir had already been built on, so rerouting gas, water, and electricity to the houses would be little inconvenience to the developers.

“Now I do know this is an old coal mining area, so could it be down to subsidence? If so the subsidence was that bad, they had to get rid of these houses”, said Dion who was drilling home the need for research to be done on the home.

He suggested asking the neighbours why the old houses were knocked down, and asking what the story was behind the plot of land.



How the site looked on the show's return
How the site looked on the show’s return

A land expert visited the area in November 2020, and offered significant signs of hope about the area and what could be done with it.

“It is an interesting plot, and if you look around we are full of three-bedroom semi-detached, and that’s where the market is, and where the demand is.

“If you were to put something on here, you would just put a modern version of the same thing in a similar style.

“If you were to build a semi-detached on here, assuming your ground conditions are ok, and the foundation’s not going to be too expensive, you’d like to think you could build a pair of semis for £80,000 to £90,000 each.”

Shobhit took the plunge into the project, and bought the land for £31,000 at auction.



The property build was going well but far from finished
The property build was going well but far from finished

He came with ambitions of spending up to £200,000 on the project, with hopes of selling on two three-bed semi-detached homes for between £120,000 and £130,000 each.

In his return to the show, he spoke about his plans, saying: “It’s given us an opportunity to build from the ground up, and it’s going to be a new, modern, semi-detached house, two of them, with brand new parking in the front and brand new gardens, and everything brand new in the houses.

“We were looking for opportunities and this one came up. Stoke-on-Trent is something we invest in quite actively so this area was known to us.

“We have a few properties in an around this area so this is an opportunity we were looking for.

“There used to be houses on this plot of land about 80 years back, and I think the coal authority had to buy those houses off, and demolish them and convert this into a piece of land.”



Shobhit claimed he needed just four more months to finish
Shobhit claimed he needed just four more months to finish

With the planning permissions needing sorted after the last one expired 2 years ago, it was clear a bit of waiting would be involved whilst a mining report and council approval for the use of materials, and a check to make sure the ground was stable were all completed.

“We have been working with a structural engineering team and they have come up with a design for the foundations to make sure any subsidence doesn’t happen again.”

With no need to re-engineer the gas or electric, Shobhit set a budget of between £150,000 and £170,000, and aims of selling each dwelling for £150,000 to produce a £300,000 total.

He set out to complete the project within 12 months, with a team coming from Derby to assist in the build.



How the house could look from the outside
How the house could look from the outside

It was an ambitious sole venture with his wife, who was a 50% stakeholder in everything we do “good or bad”, a remark which humoured Dion.

Ten months later, the show was back in Meir, and the build was underway, but they were only just finishing the brickwork of the house when the programme returned.

Shobhit updated the show on the progress, saying: “We spent one full year getting the planning sorted, and once the planning was done we had a few more conditions that had to be removed.

“Once the condition was removed, I think it was just a matter of just starting off.



A look at the plans for the ground floor
A look at the plans for the ground floor

“When finished it’ll become a typical three-bed semi-detached layout where you have the kitchen, the lounge, the cloakroom, on the ground floor.

“On the first floor you will have all the bedrooms and the family bathroom.”

Plans for a garden, alleyways for bins, and a back door were also included, as well as parking on site so there would be no need for street parking.

There were various concerns and challenges surrounding the land suitability, and they held up the project for a short while but were eventually dealt with.



The upstairs plans
The upstairs plans

“It was a challenge, we removed about 20 truckloads from here of soil, and it’s on an incline, so our engineering teams and the architect worked together with the builder and had a new foundation sorted out for this kind of surface.”

Once a mining report and other inspections were done, Shobhit reckoned around four months of extra work would be needed to get both properties complete.

“We have spent close to £90,000 so far, and I think we are just midway, as far as our budget is concerned. I think we should be well within the budget, fingers crossed the material costs don’t go up.”



The garden and driveway plans
The garden and driveway plans

He remained confident however that the total costs would be no more than £220,000.

The land expert who previously visited the site returned to check out the progress being made on the land.

“What they’ve built is exactly in line with what the market wants. The three-bedroom houses are very much similar to what’s keeping in the area and exactly what I thought they should build.

“If this were available now, there’s absolutely no question that it would get sold very quickly for between £160,000 and £170,000.

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Shobhit was left unhappy with the valuation however.

“I mean that’s slightly below our expectations, we’ve had valuation done above the highest mark of 170 and below 200, so I think that’s what our expectation is and I think we will achieve that.

“It’s a good pleasurable sight to see now that things are coming together.

“We’ve seen a lot of things on paper but this kind of the physical and the practical thing happening.





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