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Letter from Cornwall


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Down here in the South West, prices have exceeded even the highest gains in the rest of the country over the last 5 years. For the Cornish, the housing shortage has gone past acute and is now in crisis mode....yet for those here who formally wanted to declare the county an independent state but now own their own home, a marked change in attitude has come about.

Life for some Cornishmen and women who bought at the right time has never been better: A higher quality of life and huge cheap loans against the notional value of their properties resulting in the best of both worlds: a glorious Cornish summer followed by bank-loan paid foreign holidays for all the family in winter.

There are truly cynical attempts to greedily cash in elsewhere. Some friends of ours wanted to visit and take a small flat with a sea view. Everywhere was fully booked, except for one modest flat overlooking Falmouth harbour at £170 per day....no typo...I confirm £170 per day. I booked them into a pleasant B & B run by a friend at £28 per person per day.

Yes, the Cornish certainly have made up for their past history of being the underdogs of the UK. From exploited slaves one decade to property tycoons the next. The exploited certainly know how to exploit! Result, Cornwall is now the most deeply divided county in England. Homelessness is at a record high, along with property prices, yet salaries here are a half to two thirds of the South East. Half the county is owned by Greater London commuters who visit their piles for three weeks a year and let them to other tourists for already mentioned rip off prices.

A cocktail in St Ives (unheard of 5 years ago) costs £4. The whole point of actually coming to St Ives was once to ESCAPE cocktails and City life. Not any more. Nowadays everyone wants to EXPORT their lifestyle to places whose former charm was the antithesis of that which have-your-cake-and-eat-it people now desire. The result is that, like Devon, Cornwall is on the brink of destroying the very thing that made it attractive.

Devon, by the way, and especially South Devon around the fringe of Dartmoor, has become the resting ground exclusively of retired advertising execs, judges, journalists and money men. Walk through a Dartmoor village and you won't see a car more modest than a Merc or BMW. Everyone wears green wellies and talks with a plumb. There are no Devonian people left in South Devon.

The price of a reasonable family detatched home in Falmouth is now around of £280,000-300,000. Might not sound much to the Londoners, but this is an immense rise compared with just 3 years ago.

Cornwall's core economy is a million miles from this distortion and the Cornish will fall the furthest when a crash comes.

VacantPossession

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I'm a South Devonian living in South Devon, on the fringes of Dartmoor.

You have a point though. It's all ab it silly donw here and the reckoning cannot be far off. I have friends in their 30's who both work full time in reasonable jobs and they are looking at living in a caravan to make ends meet. It's gone wrong and those who have taken must give back. Ordinary decent people must be able to afford to at least rent a modest house.

Peasant revolt anyone?

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Its all so true. I've posted before about Cornwall. We were getting excited about a shared ownership housing association scheme but have decided against it following lots of advice and observations from posters on this forum.

Instead we are getting together a self build ecohouse group. Basically people like us with the energy to do something about it. We had an add in the local paper and got an unbelievable amount of replies. Last night we had a meeting and realised the thing could actually go ahead. We plan to get some land (brown field) from the local regeneration company or local authority who have hinted at their approval. We are workling in the Redruth/ Camborne area where wages to houseprices ratio is probably the worst, but have had interest from all over Cornwall and we hope that if we get going it will seed other projects.

We are modelling on real affordability, ie average wage in area x 3.5= cost

If anyone wants to get on our contact list please let me know, or check www.ecohousing.freeuk.com (just set up, not the best site in the world...yet).

Keep your chins up.. its all going to be OK in the end.

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If I were you, I would buy a plot of farmland and build some quick concrete slab or wooden houses without planning pewrmission. Or even better, build a self-sufficient "eco-village", with solar energy and so on. It will take years for the council to sue you over building without planning permission. Also, unlike the travellers who always do this scheme, you will have the moral high ground, as you are well behaved and you run an "eco-village". Get the press involved, and I all but guarantee you, your eco village will never be demolished. Can you imagine the headlines "Cruel council wants to demolish eco houses. Cornwall, a friendly community of eco warriors is facing bulldozers after the council....bla bla bla" It is sad to say this, but in this country you are better off if you simply flout the law.

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BP,

Have you any experience of doing this ?

No, my knowledge is derived from the press. It is mainly travellers who run this scheme, and it usually takes councils years to get the settlement bulldozed, because they launch appeal after appeal and these days they can also claim violation of their human rights. They usually are bulldozed after some time, at which point they buy another plot of land in a different council and the thing starts afresh.

The thing is travellers are not, shall we say, "popular", so the local residents put pressure on the councils to act against them. But imagine an eco-village with friendly inhabitants. They will not face the negative sentiment, so action from the council will not be as fierce. Add to that a well-crafted media campaign, such as "we are priced out of the housing market by greedy London city bankers. We have a right to our own home too." etc. etc.

I once read an article about a guy who built an eco house in the woods, of course without planning permission, and the legal wrangle with the council dragged on for years, and all the while he was living there.

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I went to a workshop on Yurt building many years back in Glastonbury and have liked yurt-technology ever since. Sadly, as I don't have a place to build a yurt yet I haven't had a chance to make my own yet.

Likewise, I haven't tried my hand at building undergound, but it makes a lot of sense.

When you pay loads - yet still below market rates - every month to rent a place that resembles a better-equipped squat, unorthodox ways of obtaining shelter don't look to far-out.

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We have been living the own land/alternative accommodation lifestyle for over a decade.

Our current home is slightly more substantial than a Yurt, however the council/rural elite have finally caught up and its future is uncertain, so Yurting maybe on the cards.

A much better idea than signing my life over to the bank, although most wouldn't agree.

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Its all so true. I've posted before about Cornwall. We were getting excited about a shared ownership housing association scheme but have decided against it following lots of advice and observations from posters on this forum.

Instead we are getting together a self build ecohouse group. Basically people like us with the energy to do something about it. We had an add in the local paper and got an unbelievable amount of replies. Last night we had a meeting and realised the thing could actually go ahead. We plan to get some land (brown field) from the local regeneration company or local authority who have hinted at their approval. We are workling in the Redruth/ Camborne area where wages to houseprices ratio is probably the worst, but have had interest from all over Cornwall and we hope that if we get going it will seed other projects.

We are modelling on real affordability, ie average wage in area x 3.5= cost

If anyone wants to get on our contact list please let me know, or check www.ecohousing.freeuk.com (just set up, not the best site in the world...yet).

Keep your chins up.. its all going to be OK in the end.

If your interested in building an eco-house, some of the best are Earthships, They have a very informative website, see www.earthship.org . They been going 30 years and are very nice people. I have been promoting them on and off for 5 years. World earthship summit is in Brighton, where latest one has been built.

International Earthship Summit 2004

Brighton, England

October 29th-31st

* Want to learn more about sustainable housing?

* Water harvesting?

* Independent, renewable power systems?

* Recycled and natural building materials?

* Passive solar design?

* Planning permission for Eathships?

* Design adaptations by climate?

Earthship Biotecture invites you to join Earthship creator Michael

Reynolds and panel of Earthship builders from our headquarters in Taos,

New Mexico for the first annual International Earthship Summit.

Lectures, panel discussions, featured speaker and demonstrations will

cover topics from how to pound a tire to the future of sustainable

cities in the UK and Europe. We will tour the Brighton Earthship Project

in Stamner Park where the Taos Earthship team helps the Brighton crew

put the finishing touches on this Hybrid Earthship design. See Hybrid

Earthship Image Gallery for pictures of Brighton's sister Earthship in

Taos http://www.earthship.org

To be notified of updates to the International Earthship Summit

please e-mail [email protected]

Lectures by Michael Reynolds:

* Earthship History and Philosophy Slide Show

* Earthship Designs

* Earthship Systems

Panel Discussions:

* The Owner/Builder Earthship Experience

* Earthship builders from Taos tell their stories of trials, tribulations

and victories while building their own Earthship homes

* The Brighton Earthship Build

* The Brighton Earthship Crew details their adventures over the past two

years

* Community Building

* Exploring how to create affordable, self-sufficient communities

* NGO funding for Earthship Projects

Featured Speakers:

Paula Cowie, Sustainable Communities Initiative, Earthship Scotland

http://www.sci-scotland.org.uk

To see an article on the August 21, 2004 launch of the Scotland

Earthship visit:

http://www.ecosseangel.pwp.blueyonder.co.u...ip/article.html

Daren Howarth, Low Carbon Network, Brighton Earthship

http://www.lowcarbon.co.uk

(more to be announced)

Demonstrations and Site Visit:

* Tour of the Brighton Earthship and demonstrations of building

techniques.

* Tire pounding

* Can and bottle walls

* Finish plaster

Registration fee: £200 or $400.

Students: £150 or $300

To register, email your phone number and the best times to reach you to

[email protected]

We will call you back and sign you up.

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I've been reluctant to register on this forum (knowing how involved one can get - I feel BBB is almost a personal friend) but having just read the post from Vacant Possession I now have to reply.

I live in St Ives, and some of what VP says is very true. But the most important thing is to remember that everything is cyclical. While prices are outside the reach of many FTB's in Cornwall, this won't always be the case. It just is now. When the crash happened in the early 90's, it took Cornwall 10 years (till 1999) for prices to recover to what they had been back in 1989. The same could well happen again.

I'm old enough to remember the crash and lost some money. Equally I recognised a coming boom and have benefitted from it. The point is just to use the market. Rents are still low in Cornwall (comparatively speaking) so there is no harm in renting for a few years till prices drop to the point at which the FTBs can buy again.

As for the charge of £170 a day. As far as I am aware the supply and demand laws work in Cornwall as well as everywhere else. If people are willing to pay this amount then good luck to the owners, I say. If it was August, and the flat had a fantastic sea view, this does not seem excessive. If we're talking October, then they'd be very lucky to find anybody.

I have 3 holiday properties. When I bought I was getting a yield of about 17%, now it's down to about 7%, as capital values have risen so much.

So yes, I'm one of the Cornish who has priced the other locals out of housing. <_< But my properties let for about 45 weeks of the year, bringing an awful lot of income to the area, allowing us locals to enjoy fantastic restaurants in the winter aswell as the summer.

And for all those people who occasionally moan about living in the UK - not everyone lives in the South-East or other high density areas. Some parts are still fantastic places to live. It's all a matter of choice.

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Hi Beachbabe,

Well let's see ...£170 per day is near £1200 per week, or close to £5000 per month. I find it difficult to understand your yield of 17% let alone 7% even with seasonal lows. Sounds like a licence to print money to me, but perhaps your bed linen is very lush!

The point I'm making is that it is a pity to see that the Cornish, traditionally identifying themselves as the poor relation of the UK, now are blatantly cashing in to a degree which they themselves would have been horrified to witness ten years ago.

Actually I had a very pleasant few days in St Ives recently with some other visiting friends who took a flat near the firestation for a week. It was a pretty dismal place aside from the view and they again paid a fortune. As pleasant as Cornwall is on the best days, for half the price of third class West Country accomodation you can have a luxurious and long holiday in an exotic place with a free car and guaranteed sunshine.

Cornwall is going to price itself out of the market very soon.

VP

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Hi VP

I totally agree that Cornish holiday home owners will price themselves out of the market if they're not careful. This season has not been the best, I believe, because of your point that cheap flights and weekends in Prague, for example, are hugely competitive.

I know that the price of £170 a day seems horrendous. There are certainly examples of this. The trouble with the UK weather, is that most holiday providers have only a few weeks to earn the majority of their income, which then has to last them all year. I can hear you weeping! :D

One of my flats is part of a stunning period house overlooking Porthminster Beach. I have enquiries for August 3 years hence. I could charge £1200 a week and it would probably get booked. However I only charge £750 for the simple reason that I want people to think they've got good value, are appreciative, and therefore look after the property better. Before you get too excited about £750 and multiply by 45 or whatever, I can assure you it is only for 5 maybe 6 weeks that I charge that.

This time of the year it is only about £250. I keep the prices competitive so that I fill most weeks. So 80% of my income is earned in 3 months. The other 20% in the remaining 9 months.

St Ives could fill itself a hundred times over in August - hence unscrupulous owners charging ridiculous amounts for substandard accommodation - ie near the fire station!

I suppose the point I was trying to make to FTB's was that prices simply won't stay this high forever. One only has to look historically at what has happened in Cornwall. Prices are already dropping in St Ives, and quite rightly so, it does no-one any good if younger people can't afford to live here!

You wouldn't moan if you couldn't afford Glaxo shares at the peak of the market, you'd wait for them to fall (everything runs in cycles) - it's the same with housing. If long-term rents were completely unaffordable in Cornwall I would understand, but they're not. You can still rent something pretty decent for £500 a month.

So hang in there, sit back and play the market. Let someone else take the capital loss, and pay the ridiculous mortgages.

No-one else wanted to buy the properties I bought in 2000, (which were very affordable) so I certainly don't feel guilty about reading the market, and taking the risk. I might buy again in about 4-5 years' time!

I also don't see a problem with Cornwall becoming more economically active and affluent. Again, we're talking cycles. 200 years ago Cornwall was one of the most economically successful areas of the world. The industrial revolution started here! In the last 100 years it has been at the bottom of the economical cycle in UK terms. Now it's on the way up again, (in no small part due to the internet, and the ability to work from home - another industrial revolution) and I for one celebrate as it is a fantastic place to live. Thank God I was born at the right time!

Your time will come too, just be patient, and in a few years you'll have a fantastic place to live, I'm sure.

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I think people completely ignore the potential for mass popular revolt in today's Britian. Nowadays it seems the nearest thing to an uprising is a Mrs Rashley-Belcher handing out soup and Sherry from her Range Rover to her two-thumbed friends and their meat-headed yokel supporters, whining that they can't tear wildlife to shreds anymore.

In Spain there are regular demos against 'especulacion' and every building site is daubed with anti-speculation graffiti. The Spanish put up with lowish wages and sky-high prices while freeloaders from overseas roll the dice with their lives.

In the 80s the Sons of Glyndwr regularly letterbombed estate agents and second-homes that were helping to price out the local populations. Postman Pat mixed with Al Queada.

And it's not just those with a cause or political agenda that can make a mess if they're feeling p*ssed off about their lot in life. When I was a young kid in the West Country in the early eighties our family was regularly terrorised by inbred extras from Straw Dogs because my Dad was a local schoolteacher and 'Lunduunerrr' (even though he was from the midlands and my mother from Wales). Lunndunerrs - anyone from east of Wiltshire - were accused of forcing up property prices, infilrating the Parish Councils, using cotton buds to pick their noses, and making complaints about the amount of manure on the roads. Every year between halloween and november our house would be pelted by fireworks and gates were often taken and thrown in the river. Once an oik was pinning my Dad to the floor until my Mum ripped half the attacker's hair off.

To an extent, the yokels' paranoias had foundation. My parent's village now has its own millionaire's row, and once ramshackle cottages with bindertwine on the gates are priced at 350k. Even tiny 80s starter homes for the rural young cost 130k.

The leering village yobs have largely dissapeared, economically cleansed, replaced by rich Bristol and Bath commuters. A one-time nomansland is now considered a picture-postcard idyll.

All these kinds of things happen when it's percieved that some indistinctly defined group of baddies is seen as no longer content simply amassing a huge hoarde of pies, but wants to hoover up everyone else's pies as well - in this case property speculators, second-home Devon downshifters, BTLers, et. al.

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I think people completely ignore the potential for mass popular revolt in today's Britian. Nowadays it seems the nearest thing to an uprising is a Mrs Rashley-Belcher handing out soup and Sherry from her Range Rover to her two-thumbed friends and their meat-headed yokel supporters, whining that they can't tear wildlife to shreds anymore.

In Spain there are regular demos against 'especulacion' and every building site is daubed with anti-speculation graffiti. The Spanish put up with lowish wages and sky-high prices while freeloaders from overseas roll the dice with their lives.

In the 80s the Sons of Glyndwr regularly letterbombed estate agents and second-homes that were helping to price out the local populations. Postman Pat mixed with Al Queada.

And it's not just those with a cause or political agenda that can make a mess if they're feeling p*ssed off about their lot in life. When I was a young kid in the West Country in the early eighties our family was regularly terrorised by inbred extras from Straw Dogs because my Dad was a local schoolteacher and 'Lunduunerrr' (even though he was from the midlands and my mother from Wales). Lunndunerrs - anyone from east of Wiltshire - were accused of forcing up property prices, infilrating the Parish Councils, using cotton buds to pick their noses, and making complaints about the amount of manure on the roads. Every year between halloween and november our house would be pelted by fireworks and gates were often taken and thrown in the river. Once an oik was pinning my Dad to the floor until my Mum ripped half the attacker's hair off.

    To an extent, the yokels' paranoias had foundation. My parent's village now has its own millionaire's row, and once ramshackle cottages with bindertwine on the gates are priced at 350k. Even tiny 80s starter homes for the rural young cost 130k.

The leering village yobs have largely dissapeared, economically cleansed, replaced by rich Bristol and Bath commuters. A one-time nomansland is now considered a picture-postcard idyll.

All these kinds of things happen when it's percieved that some indistinctly defined group of baddies is seen as no longer content simply amassing a huge hoarde of pies, but wants to hoover up everyone else's pies as well - in this case property speculators, second-home Devon downshifters, BTLers, et. al.

Mate your sadly misguided - 90% of the population just revel in pre-processed synthetic lifestyles and have little interest in any alternative philosophy

The other 10% are too busy getting Tony and Guy mullets and stocking up on consumer goodies ....

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crashed out and burned- you're a genius for coining the phrase "economically cleansed"; perfect; it describes exactly what is happening now and what has been going on in London for at least a couple of decades. With their money, the middle-classes displace the poor from all the areas that they want to live in(inevitably areas with low crime, good transport links, close to hubs of economic activity-the major conurbations, and now with the second home frenzy any area that is picturesque, attractive and scenic) and so the poor are flushed out to economically depressed, ugly, hateful residential areas with high crime and high delinquence. What was that about the rich getting richer.....??

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I love the idea that Larndarners are "forcing up" prices in Cornwall.

Local; "Please have my house for £100K sorr, it's for the good of the local area"

Londoner; "No, you'll take £500K and lump it, old bean, I'm determined that local prices will be forced sky-high"

Local; "But I'm beggin you sorr, lower your offer or the local lads won't be able to afford a place for their families"

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I think people completely ignore the potential for mass popular revolt in today's Britian. Nowadays it seems the nearest thing to an uprising is a Mrs Rashley-Belcher handing out soup and Sherry from her Range Rover to her two-thumbed friends and their meat-headed yokel supporters, whining that they can't tear wildlife to shreds anymore.

In Spain there are regular demos against 'especulacion' and every building site is daubed with anti-speculation graffiti. The Spanish put up with lowish wages and sky-high prices while freeloaders from overseas roll the dice with their lives.

In the 80s the Sons of Glyndwr regularly letterbombed estate agents and second-homes that were helping to price out the local populations. Postman Pat mixed with Al Queada.

And it's not just those with a cause or political agenda that can make a mess if they're feeling p*ssed off about their lot in life. When I was a young kid in the West Country in the early eighties our family was regularly terrorised by inbred extras from Straw Dogs because my Dad was a local schoolteacher and 'Lunduunerrr' (even though he was from the midlands and my mother from Wales). Lunndunerrs - anyone from east of Wiltshire - were accused of forcing up property prices, infilrating the Parish Councils, using cotton buds to pick their noses, and making complaints about the amount of manure on the roads. Every year between halloween and november our house would be pelted by fireworks and gates were often taken and thrown in the river. Once an oik was pinning my Dad to the floor until my Mum ripped half the attacker's hair off.

    To an extent, the yokels' paranoias had foundation. My parent's village now has its own millionaire's row, and once ramshackle cottages with bindertwine on the gates are priced at 350k. Even tiny 80s starter homes for the rural young cost 130k.

The leering village yobs have largely dissapeared, economically cleansed, replaced by rich Bristol and Bath commuters. A one-time nomansland is now considered a picture-postcard idyll.

All these kinds of things happen when it's percieved that some indistinctly defined group of baddies is seen as no longer content simply amassing a huge hoarde of pies, but wants to hoover up everyone else's pies as well - in this case property speculators, second-home Devon downshifters, BTLers, et. al.

Crashedout.. for me the most interesting post for ages, especially the last paragraph. The resentment to BTLs that I encounter is very real.

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Rockdoctor - quite!

In St Ives we have the situation where people who bought their council houses only a few years ago for about £30K are now selling up and getting a minimum of £250K. For a an ex-local authority house! They only have to move about 5 miles down the road to buy a better house for half that. They suddenly have more money than they could have dreamed of. I don't hear them moaning or refusing to sell to 'Londoners'. But doubtless their children are those moaning about being unable to afford a house in Cornwall.

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I love the idea that Larndarners are "forcing up" prices in Cornwall.

Local; "Please have my house for £100K sorr, it's for the good of the local area"

Londoner; "No, you'll take £500K and lump it, old bean, I'm determined that local prices will be forced sky-high"

Local; "But I'm beggin you sorr, lower your offer or the local lads won't be able to afford a place for their families"

LOL Thats the thing about so called underdogs as soon as they get their chance they bite just as hard.

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