Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham and Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan received a drubbing this week when it was revealed how she had sold her constituency home late last year, just before the government’s green light to run the second high speed train line from London to the Midlands.
And a route that more importantly will run just 500 yards from the Amersham’s ancient central streets and her former home. Gillan has said the sale of the terraced property (pictured, below with the agent board outside) was driven by the property’s steep and narrow stairs, which both Cheryl and her 84-year-old husband were increasingly unable to negotiate.
But some constituents in the town have taken a different view and posters put up locally have been unforgiving in their cricism – as has media commentary.
Land Registry records show Gillan sold the property for £320,000 although originally she was asking around £380,000 when it was put on the market back in July 2010, which is still after it was know that HS2 would be screaming past the town – as highlighted by 2009 Department of Transport maps.
At the time (she been the area’s MP since 1992) Gillan was vocal in her opposition to HS2, at one point threatening to resign her cabinet position if it went ahead.
Her campaign work may have failed to halt the project but there has been some success. The planned route has shifted, moving nearer to her home (by skirting south rather than north around the town) and will also now go under Amersham via a tunnel rather than being above ground within a cutting, as had originally been proposed.
So why did it take Gillan 18 months to sell her home? A mixture of the property being over-priced; the effect of the HS2 route and (more likely) its tiny proportions all conspired – No.41 Whielden Street is a two-up, two-down cottage with a very small courtyard garden and double yellows outside the front door.
Two people who think the property has potential though are the 50-somethings who bought it off Gillan, most likely as an investment. They are currently offering it to rent at £1,350, a rental return of 5.06% before costs, putting it on a par with London (5.25%) and better than many UK cities including Brighton (4.8%), Manchester (4.384%) and Newcastle (3.58%), PrimeLocation.com but-to-let figures show.