2 months ago

Bungalow left empty for 30 years now an eyesore with rats invading neighbours' gardens

A bungalow left empty for 30 years on a pretty street with sea views is now an eyesore with rats invading neighbours' gardens.

Despite being left to decay, estate agents say a house on the plot could sell for more than a million pounds.

But in its present state it is actually knocking up to £50,000 off the value of surrounding houses in one of the most desirable areas of Canterbury district in Kent.

With sea views and a quiet neighbourhood, West Cliff Gardens in Herne Bay should be an idyllic place to live.

But the street’s tranquillity is marred by the derelict bungalow, formerly known as White Wings, which residents and estate agents say is dragging down property prices.

Over the past three decades, weeds have thrived – with a significant proportion of the plot now completely covered by nettles and brambles.

Next-door neighbour and grandmother-of-three Michelle Houghman says the house, on the corner with West Cliff Drive, has been in a “state of decay” ever since she moved there nine years ago.

Ms Houghman, 57, said: “We can sit out in the garden and the rats that live in the house come through the fence – so I don’t let the grandchildren play in the garden or the pool anymore.

“Our cat won’t even go outside anymore because he’s scared of whatever is in the house. It’s in a state of decay and it’s bringing down the value of the properties around here.”

A local estate agent, who asked not to be named, estimates that the presence of the bungalow could take 5 per cent off the sale price of adjacent homes, which could translate to as much as £50,000 in potential losses.

In its current dilapidated state, he reckons the house would sell for between £350,000 and £450,000.

He said: “If it were done up right as a bungalow, we’re probably talking up to £750,000 and if someone were to tear it down and build a house it could go for a £1 million, £1.2 million.

“It’s always a shame when particularly desirable plots are sitting fallow, but I have to say this particular plot is not acceptable.”

Precisely why the bungalow has been allowed to fall into disrepair is the subject of much neighbourhood speculation.

Canterbury City Council says “it would not be appropriate” to reveal why the owner has not looked into options for bringing the property back into use.

Maureen and Arthur Doran have lived down the road from the abandoned house for 23 years and say that not only is it ugly, but it has attracted antisocial behaviour over the years.

Mrs Doran, 85, said: “Around 2001 some kids came around and smashed all the windows – it looks rotten.

“The house is just being wasted – there’s got to be some family with kids that would absolutely love that house.

“It’s so sad. I don’t think we’ll ever see it turned nice.”

City councillor Andrew Harvey, who represents the ward, says he has received numerous calls from local residents asking for something to be done about the eyesore.

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