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Misery over road that never was; Plans forced family to sell blighted mansion.

The former owner of a 17th century Midland mansion set in 28 acres of countryside told yesterday of his family's misery when a motorway that was never built forced them to move out.

Grade II-listed Bradford House in Belbroughton, Worcs, is expected to be sold for about pounds 800,000 this week, six years after Mr Roger Kendrick, his wife and three children sold up because they feared their lives would be ruined by the proposed Weste rn Orbital Route, which would have crossed their land.

But the pounds 500million road, which would have linked the M42 near Bromsgrove with the M6 north of Wolverhampton, was scrapped by the Government in its roads review in 1996.

Mr Kendrick, senior partner in Stourbridge solicitors' firm Wall, James and Davies, said: "It was a rotten time. When I painted the house or mowed the lawn I felt it was a waste of time, because it would all be blighted by the road.

"My children were especially sad to leave."

After moving from their home of ten years, the family had settled in Great Witley near Stourport when the Government announced it was scrapping the road, which was planned to skirt the congested junction where the M5 meets the M6.

"We wouldn't have left the house if it hadn't been for the road and and it makes me more angry that the road was just scrapped," said Mr Kendrick.

"But we were one of the lucky ones, because we were able to prove our house would be blighted.

"I know of elderly residents in Belbroughton who were terribly upset because they believed the Western Orbital was going to spoil their lives, but they did not qualify for blight status.

"Most have sweated it out and stayed."

Mr Kendrick sold Bradford House to the Department of Transport under the statutory blight scheme in 1992.

He refused to reveal how much he received for the house, but it is believed the entire package was worth about pounds 1million, including expenses for resettlement.

Bradford House was one of about 50 houses along the proposed 37-mile route of the WOR which were bought by the Government at open market prices for millions of pounds when their owners successfully served blight notices, providing legal proof that the ro ad would ruin their lives.

The Government offered all their former owners the chance to buy them back after it was decided the WOR was being abandoned.

Mr Kendrick went to look at his former home earlier this year. He said: "I found it quite depressing. The house had deteriorated and the gardens, which we used to spend ten hours a week keeping in order, were overgrown.

"My daughter, Lucy, who is now 17, especially wanted to move back. But we have a lovely house now, so I declined to buy it back."

Bradford House was owned in the 1700s by the Penn family, founders of the American state of Pennsylvania.

The site of the house was first mentioned in the reign of Edward I in 1274 when its owner was a defendant in a legal action for obstructing the highway at Belbroughton.

The sale is being handled on behalf of the Highways Agency by Hagley-based estate agents Walton & Hipkiss.

Mr John Hipkiss, of the firm, said he expected to complete a sale this week near the asking price of pounds 825,000.

The chairwoman of Belbroughton parish council, Mrs Jean Griffiths, who led the Go Green campaign to fight the WOR, said the proposed road drastically affected the village even though the bulldozers never moved in.

"I am certain that many people would not have sold had it not been for the motorway and many people lived too far from the road to be eligible for compensation, even though their lives would also have been blighted."

A Highways Agency spokesman said the prices paid for properties under the blight scheme were confidential. He said they would have been offered for sale back to their former owners at "current market prices".
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 8, 1998
Words:671
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