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Who Owns Undershaw?

20 Mar

Undershaw, view looking South

Disclaimer: This blog is a collaboration with John Michael Gibson (JMG). It is not meant to be a solicitation for funds.

When the Undershaw property was put on the market in 2003 by the Bridger family at a price in excess of £1,000,000 there was immediate interest by a number of purchasers, and sold quite rapidly.

In February 2004, the property was sold to Fossway Limited registered in The British Virgin Islands for £1.1 million. The beneficial owner(s) remain unknown up to the present day.

Throughout the debâcle which ensued, JMG always assumed that three local gentlemen, brothers Neil and John Caffrey, and Desmond Moore were the owners throughout the dealings and planning applications with Waverley Borough Council.

The name of the beneficial owner did not become apparent in the High Courts of Justice in 2012, nor in any of the submissions thereto, nor in the two subsequent appeals later in 2012 to the best of our knowledge.

When Aequitas Ltd put the For Sale Board on the property in December 2012, their agent Rupert Maxwell-Brown declined to identity the owner. I know because I asked him myself! and the asking price was £1.2 million.

I now understand that the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Heritage Centre Limited a registered charity #1154718 is in the process of negotiating an option to purchase at a price of £1.65 million with somebody.

We now ask “Who?” I understand that Marek Ujma, the Chief Organizer for The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Heritage Centre is presently negotiating an option to purchase which is time delimited to six months in order to raise the necessary money to complete the transaction; and the purchase is arranged through a sales agent for the owner in Guildford  by the name of Damon Lidbury of Pinks. Damon has signed a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the owner.

This agreement is presently with the Fossway Limited’s solicitors for final approval, and then the clock will start to tick, and fundraising will then commence. This option has been an on-again-off-again affair, and in our view has a miniscule chance of success. This has been a magnificence negotiation but I fear it will come to nought!

JMG and I would like to know the name of the beneficial owner(s), because at his or her or their feet lay the responsibility for the present debâcle, make no mistake about that. There is a human being behind this mess, and these same fellow(s) or gal(s) have set the asking price of £1.65 million. This has not been the action of Fossway’s agent, as we are currently led to believe.

Posy Metz of English Heritage is presently in consultation to raise the Grading from Grade 2 to Grade 1 or Grade 2.*star. Either upgrade will result in a huge increase in the cost to restore. Hopefully Waverley Borough Council can be persuaded to serve a schedule of dilapidations, and if these are not complied with, subsequently serve a compulsory purchase order.

It is said that History is written by the winner. There is no clear winner here yet, but there will be — one way or the other.

We repeat “Who Owns Undershaw? This is a great literary home which is now in scandalous disrepair?”

One might ask Matthew Evans, the Chief Planning Officer for Waverley Borough Council. One might ask Damon Lidbury, One might ask Michael Wilson, the architect who designed the Nine Condo Plan which was ultimately squashed in the High Court. One might ask Damon Lidbury, Fossway’s sales agent at Pinks, (but he won’ tell you because he has signed an NDA). One might ask Desmond Moore who originally presented the plan approved by Waverley Borough Council and was squashed. One might ask DM Planning of Guildford, but they are unlikely to identify their client. And finally one might ask one of Fossway’s Solicitors, past or present, but you’re not likely to have any one of them identify their client.

Our best guess, at present, is that the present owner(s) of Undershaw reside(s) … two miles south of Gatwick.

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