“Very flat, Norfolk”

Thank you, Noël, dear boy … Don’t call us; we’ll call you.

Then there’s a property-page puff-piece from Max Davidson in the Torygraph:

Property in Norfolk: the perfect time to buy?

The Royal family and Bill Bryson aren’t the only people to love Norfolk: prices in the county are bouncing back

There are several oddities therein.

The main focus seems to be on North Norfolk, which is what had us salivating for insight:

Property prices are bouncing back, particularly in North Norfolk. This could be good news for ordinary home-owners. In fact, this may be the perfect time to buy, with temptingly priced properties in every price bracket.

“North Norfolk is certainly recovering quicker from the recession than the county as a whole,” says Tim Hayward of Jackson-Stops and Staff. In Burnham Market, aka Chelsea-on-Sea, transactions in the first quarter of 2013 were up by 38 per cent. In June alone, prices in the area rose by 2 per cent.

From King’s Lynn to Cromer, the green shoots of recovery are clearly visible. Buyers are drawn not by the fads of the market, but by more traditional values.

Everything you wanted to know about estate-agent talk …

Let’s take that slowly: “In Burnham Market, aka Chelsea-on-Sea, transactions in the first quarter of 2013 were up by 38 per cent.” That’s historic:

  • Why quote first-quarter of last year as if it’s the latest property news?
  • Then there are fewer than 500 dwellings in Burnham Market. Refer to zoopla.co.uk, and we find just five property sales listed for the first quarter of 2013. So what, exactly, underpins that “up by 38%” assertion?
  • Did Jackson-Stops and Staff manage to sell one-and-a-third more properties in that quarter?
  • Compared to what time-span?
  • Or, if it’s on price-achieved, how long back was the base price that has now shot up so significantly?
  • Are the properties sold in 2013 strictly comparable with those sold in that unspecified previous period?

Then there’s a geographical issue

We are regaled with two dozen paragraphs on North Norfolk (in which royal celebs get more than their proper share of gush). The final ten “points” of advice are all specific to North Norfolk. In between, unaccountably, the focus changes.

Aylsham is as near to Norwich as it is to the coast. It is in the patch of Broadland District, yet wikipedia places it in North Norfolk, and, sure, he is an honourable man. So we’ll let that pass.

But what can be said for “a converted windmill near Acle in the Norfolk Broads”? Or the sudden glissade into holiday rentals?


Take this one:

Hindringham is not exactly Manhattan: the population hovers between 400 and 500 souls, fewer in winter. But if you treasure peace and seclusion, it offers them in spades.

Closer to 400 than 500, actually (the 2001 Census gives 431). The last village pubs, the Duke’s Head, closed in 1965, and the Red Lion, closed in 1969, are long gone. What’s left (or rather revived, thanks to a bit of communal effort) is the football club’s Pavilion.

Then there’s that weasily “fewer in winter”. Which means, in plain English, there are too many weekenders around, who stay at (first) home once the dark nights set in.

Feeling the draught

No, not the beer (though that has improved immeasurably since the Watney monopoly was broken). North Norfolk faces … north. Go for your walk at Holkham — “The combination of big skies and sandy beaches that stretch for miles and miles … seen to exquisite effect at the end of Shakespeare in Love, is irresistible.” Face out to sea. Due north — which is where that biting winter wind is coming from, the next bit of solid land is probably the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the only bit of Russia in the Western Hemisphere. [Oh, work it out for yourself!]

There’s useful advice towards the end of Max Davidson’s effort:

Don’t buy a property unless you have seen it in winter as well as summer – North Norfolk in January can be an acquired taste. 

Note well.

Note, too:

Many of the most popular leisure activities in North No[r]folk, from sailing to links golf to bird-watching, have the sea as their focus.

Especially these last few weeks:

Homeowners have been left in tears as flood waters have crept towards their homes in north Norfolk – while Cromer seafront suffered major damage from the surging sea…

At Blakeney sea water rushed up Westgate Street, Blakeney, leaving pavement and roads under inches of water…

The A149 through Salthouse totally covered with sea water.

The A149 through Salthouse totally covered with sea water.

As for that golf course at Brancaster (“One of the Top 100 in the world”, no less), it may not have a long-term future:

The Environment Agency boss revealed yesterday that he is weighing up whether to reinstate flood defences in Brancaster, Blakeney and Salthouse, after they were breached last month.

Paul Leinster, who was hauled before a committee of MPs 
following the prolonged winter floods, said his agency is questioning whether or not to try to re-establish freshwater habitats, or let the sea water through permanently…

Mr Leinster told the committee that some flood defences were still under water, but went on to say: “In other places we will have discussions with Natural England and others as to whether we are going to reinstate those flood defences, or whether we will allow the water that has now broken through to remain.”

He added: “The question has to be, do we reinstate those defences and then allow freshwater habitat to re-establish, or allow inter-tidal habitat to establish?”

Max Davidson was particularly enthusiastic:

The odd grand period house does come on the market in North Norfolk, with a suitably hefty price tag. Appletree House in Brancaster, overlooking the West Norfolk golf course, was built in the 1920s and boasts magnificent views of the sea over manicured formal gardens. It is on the market for £4.5 million with Knight Frank (knightfrank.com).

Take those last two quotations together, and it might go some way to explaining this:


Dring! Dring!

“Yes, Mr Coward, what can we do for you this time?”
“Norfolk, old chap …”
“Hmm. Thought we dealt with that a while back. You said Norfolk was flat.”
“That was no reflection on her, unless she made it flatter.”
“Your voice takes on an acid quality whenever you mention her name.”
“I’ll never mention it again.”
“So, goodbye, Mr Coward. Always a pleasure …”

[Compare the infamous exchange between Elyot and Amanda, Act One of Private Lives.]


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Filed under Daily Telegraph, House-prices, Norfolk, pubs, Theatre, Wells-next-the-Sea

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