A Historic Day for Littlehempston

On Thursday March 15th, a great cheer went up at the auction  of Higher Court Farm at the Seven Stars in Totnes, when the Littlehempston bid for Lot 7 was successful. The auctioneer commented that it wasn’t often he made so many people happy with just one sale! This land purchase provides the parish with its first community-owned open space and will help preserve this very central part of the village for future generations. And to add to the happiness, Lot 4 was bought by individual locals.

Littlehempston owes much to the small group of determined individuals who rallied the community to action so successfully, and did so much work behind the scenes.

If you missed the auction, you can experience all the excitement and tension of the Lot 7 bid, thanks to Jon Morris’s recording:

 

You can see a map of the various lots on page 17 of the Higher Court Farm Sales Particulars. Here are details of the prices paid and the purchasers, to the best of our knowledge:

Lot Price Purchaser
1 £348,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
2 £450,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
3 £197,000 Jacqui Hodgson
4 £45,000 Littlehempston residents
5 £94,000 To be confirmed
6 £200,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
7 £58,000 Littlehempston community!!!
8 £285,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
9 £90,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
10 £202,000 A local farmer
11 £52,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The village of Littlehempston in South Hams has a strong history of community spirit and purpose – we have bought our own pub, enhanced the church into a community space and now bought our own land for community use.

Murmurings started in late January 2018 when the Blacklers land in Littlehempston came up for sale, including a central pasture with orchard. When an email went out on the 19th of January asking whether it wouldn’t be worth “putting the idea out there” for the villagers to club together and buy Lot 7, it didn’t exactly take off as a priority … and not much happened until around the 19th Feb when a growing group thought it would be good to meet and discuss.

This first well attended meeting was on the 26th of February in the church where full support was given to “give it a go”. We got £30k in pledges that evening in a cardboard box so we felt emboldened!

Results of this meeting included some delegated tasks such as capture the pledges and turn them hard cash, find a purchasing entity (the Bidder) to bid on the day, think about the balance between Lot 4 and Lot 7, and start drafting an agreement for the community to agree with the Bidders that they would buy it on the village’s behalf.

There was quite a flurry of activity leading to the 2nd meeting on the 12th March with only 3 days to go until auction day. This 2nd meeting was a very focussed event where we could confirm that we had reached the guide price in hard cash, but requested more if possible. We also agreed to focus solely on Lot 7 as a community, and let village individuals go for Lot 4. We discussed the premise on which the Bidders would buy the land on behalf of the village and had Mike Dix and Nicky Oldridge stepping up to be the Bidders … things starting to come together but there was a way to go yet!

Really ramping up the tempo now in the days before the auction, the kitty reached £60k on auction day with some fabulous last minute donations, and having signed a Deed of Trust with Nicky and Mike, we were battle ready … and the rest is history!