Dream Home Disaster For Chiswick Woman

Devon house bought unseen teeters after landslide


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A retired police officer from Chiswick bought her dream home at auction just a week before a landslide left it teetering on a cliff edge.

Sue Diamond, who is disabled, of Staveley Road, made a telephone auction bid of £154,500 for the house in Torquay in February 2010, without viewing it or having a survey done. But just eight days after the auction, a landslide left the 1930s house just 50 yards from a drop into the sea, and signalled the started of a lengthy legal battle. Miss Diamond says the house is uninhabitable and worth only £3,500.

The house in Staveley Road

She has been engaged in a legal war with the builder who sold it to her, Matthew Taylor, who has been reduced to living in a caravan while the dispute has dragged on. The auction particulars warned buyers at the time that the six-bedroom house was severely structurally damaged and might be beyond economic repair, and a judge in 2010 ordered Miss Diamond to pay Mr Taylor what she owed.

Mr Taylor has a legal charge for the money, plus 8 per cent interest annually, over Miss Diamond’s home in Chiswick which she says is worth over £1million.

In December 2011, Miss Diamond was evicted from her home so that it could be sold and Mr Taylor paid. However, the High Court heard that she later went back there despite what she described as its ‘uninhabitable state’.

The saga continued in March this year when a judge gave Mr Taylor permission to market the property at £650,000 – but she has complained that that was only half its true value for such a popular road in W4.

Mr Justice Norris has given Miss Diamond the chance to get a better price for her home after she produced letters from Chiswick estate agents saying £1.1million was ‘easily achievable’. Miss Diamond claims to suffer from dyslexia, impaired hearing and restricted mobility.

Explaining her decision to buy the house in Torquay, she said her Chiswick home had been flooded by burst pipes and she thought the seaside property.would be suitable for a disabled person.

The landslide happened two years ago, and at the time local people described hearing

a ''rumbling'' noise before the unstable sandstone cliffs crumbled, narrowly missing a row of beach huts.

Police and coastguards feared joggers or dog walkers were trapped underneath the rock and used thermal imaging equipment to hunt for survivors.

No-one was hurt but Ridgemont House lost a ''substantial'' chunk of its land and now sits just 50ft from the edge of the 300ft cliff.

One neighbour said: ''Apparently the cliff collapse was sparked when a large boulder the size of a Transit Van fell off and the whole lot went.

''It happened in the middle of the night so no-one saw how bad it was until daylight. It was a huge cliff fall."

The house was built in the late 1930s when Torquay and the English Riviera were popular with wealthy holidaymakers from London.

It, along with its gardens, were sold for £123,000 at auction in September 2009 and bought at the auction by Ms. Diamond for £154,500 - just a fraction of the £1.5million for a similar sized beach front home in other British resorts.

The official brochure for the sale in 2010 described it as ; ''A rare and interesting property comprising a substantial six bedroomed detached two storey house set in extensive cliff top gardens and grounds with glorious views.''

According to the auctioneers who handled the latest sale, Fox & Sons of Southampton, all those who were interested in the property had been told that the house had structural problems since it sits on a geographical fault. Its utilities were cut off nearly ten years before that when another part of the clifftop collapsed.

After the landslide, the local Council closed the whole of Oddicombe Beach below for fear of further rock falls. The 5,000-tonne rock fall was from the unstable sandstone cliffs to the rear of north beach.



October 24, 2012

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