Would-be home that's the size of a doghouse

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 08/02/2006

David Hoppit reports from a tiny former telephone repeater station which, with planning consent, could become a bijou weekend retreat

It would make a splendid garden shed, but perhaps it could be the perfect nid d'amour or a little weekend retreat for the family - then again, with a little luck and imagination, it could be converted into a small home.

Repeater station
On the block: the repeater station, by the A31 near Puttenham, in Surrey, could fetch £15,000 at auction later this month

The former BT telephone repeater station is one of many little buildings made redundant by modern technology; it now sits, ignored, well back from the road on the Hog's Back, by the A31 near Puttenham, in Surrey. It is among 350 flats and houses up for auction at the Cumberland Hotel in London W1, on February 16 and a bid of £15,000 or more could secure it.

The tiny building, which measures about 8ft by 12ft, stands on a plot of 1,440 sq ft, sandwiched between two detached houses. Potential buyers may find themselves bidding against the neighbours.

"During the past 15 years we have sold many of these little buildings, some of which have been converted into homes or workshops and some demolished to make way for new buildings," says Gary Murphy, of the auctioneer Allsop.

"Potential buyers should speak to the local planning authority to gauge what it might permit."

The building is well placed for access to motorways and main roads, being close to the M25 and the A3. Guildford and Farnham and the shops at Puttenham are easily reached and a golf course and countryside are close by.

There is electricity to the site, but other services such as water and drains - and telephone - would have to be arranged by the buyer.

But what will the planners allow? The official line, from Guildford Borough Council's chairman of planning, Michael Nevins, is that each application is treated on its merits.

In general terms re-use of rural buildings, provided they are sound, might be considered favourably, but there is usually (but not always) a preference for a use that will provide employment.

The repeater station is sited in the green belt on Surrey Hills, which rejoices in the status of Area of Outstanding Beauty. The County Council would have to be consulted about vehicular access on to the A31, but as there are properties on either side this may not be a problem. However, building an extension might not be permitted.

The advice for would-be buyers is that they should present a sketch plan of their proposals to the planning department, which will try to give an opinion within 10 days - but it stresses that pre-application advice it gives cannot be seen as binding.

  • Allsop 020 7494 3686; www.allsop.co.uk