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Friday, 25 November 2016 00:00

Land in Bausley, Shropshire


Two permanent pasture paddocks with good road access just off the B4393.

Friday, 25 November 2016 00:00

Mountfields, Shrewsbury


A period town house located in Mountfields boasting river frontage and unique views of the Severn.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 00:00

Autumn statement, letting agent fees

Commenting on the proposed ban on letting fees in England, Head of Lettings at Shrewsbury based, Balfours, Charlotte George, MARLA, says: “This is disappointing, as we don’t believe the ban on fees will help tenants. We are yet to see how the proposal will be rolled out, but essentially landlords will seek to recoup the letting fees through increased rental charges.

“These fees enable agents to carry out various critical checks on tenants before letting a property. At Balfours we take a very fair approach to letting fees and where we have numerous applicants will only charge the successful applicant; whereas we are aware that some agents will charge all applicants.” 

She says to this end ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) has campaigned for coherent, mandatory regulation of the sector and a fair deal to cover the significant work that agents do for tenants.

Charlotte adds: “This will be the fourth assault on the sector in just over a year, and does little to help cash-poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder. This decision is a crowd-pleaser, which will not help renters in the long-term.”

Monday, 21 November 2016 00:00

Balfours Xtra – professional update

The current effect of commerce and politics across Shropshire’s land and property are to be highlighted next week at the popular annual Balfours Xtra seminar. The event which is targeted at professionals will have a 4.30pm start at Atcham, near Shrewsbury on Tuesday, November 29.

Short papers include a briefing by town sales manager, Alistair Hilton on the impact of Brexit on the property market, while residential sales colleague, Scott Kemsley, discusses the significance of legal compliance when marketing property in the UK - where property is currently the number one way that money is laundered in the UK.

Partner, Rory Galliers, presents the case for rural financing while Andrew Liddiment and Richard Corbet give a brief analysis of Agricultural inheritance tax and succession planning. A tale of two countries is revealed by head of lettings, Charlotte George, who compares increasingly different regulations from the Welsh Assembly and Parliament. 

Balfours business manager, Craig Varley, says: “The seminar has built a tremendous reputation for providing a pit-stop update on current affairs affecting land and property based businesses. It is geared to catch professionals between leaving the office and arriving home – with our speakers honed to an hour collectively.” Places are limited, for more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Prospective homebuyers are on the increase but supply is not keeping up, according to national figures compiled by the Rural Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Head of Sales at Balfours, Tim Main says that the national picture, with an increase in the number of homebuyers for the second consecutive month, is reflected locally in Shropshire.

He says: “The frustration is there simply isn’t the number of fresh properties coming to the market. For those that are willing to go to market it is a positive picture, because across much of the UK prices are rising.”

A quarter of respondents to the RICS survey reported a price rise – and that is a reflection of supply and demand across the UK, but as is often the case central London is bucking the trend, with agents reporting a fall in price for the eighth month.

He says: “It has been an uncertain year, with the anticipation of the referendum, then Brexit itself – both of which could be compared to the fear of the dentist which hasn’t been as bad. Now we have to add in the Trump factor, which speculation is suggesting is likely to ignite a more positive aura to Brexit.

We also have the Autumn Statement next week (November 23), it will be interesting to see what measures, if any, the Chancellor will put in place to increase housing supply, some rumours have included some changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax” adds Mr Main. If you would like to discuss bringing your property to market call Tim Main on 01743 353511.

One hundred agricultural students from right across the UK, representing ten agricultural Universities and Colleges, descended on Shropshire’s Sundorne Estate, near Shrewsbury earlier this month (November), to formulate their ideas for its future in the annual Institute of Agricultural Management’s (IAgrM) 2017 “FarmPlanner Competition.”  

Incorporating ideas of the next generation into the farm business plan is often met with enthusiasm and reservations in equal measure but host Jon Birchall, Farm Business Consultant for Balfours, who took over the management of the 1500 acre farm in 2014 is hugely excited by the whole process: “Every generation hands over the baton to the next at some point. The competition is an ideal opportunity to harness the vision and enthusiasm of youth and share the benefits of acquired experience with them." 

The large farming operation comprises a huge variety of cropping options including milling wheat, oilseed rape, forage rye which is grown specifically for a local anaerobic digestion plant; forage maize for a local dairy farmer; potatoes, carrots, fodder beet and stubble turnips. The Sundorne Estate land runs on both sides of the A49 around Shrewsbury, incorporating what used to be the largest field in the county (300 acres) until it was bisected by the road. 

Jon sets the scene for the students: “The 1500 acres I manage is made up of a collection of formerly tenanted farms, taken back in-hand as they have come available. Taking the land in-hand represents a higher investment and higher risk for the owners, compared to letting land on a Farm Business Tenancy. 

“The grade II sandy loam will grow almost anything, especially with the added advantage of excellent irrigation facilities courtesy of the nearby Tern and the Severn, plus significant water storage across the estate.” He gives the students a hint of his aspirations for the land: “the soils have had a hard time: organic matter is depleted, we should look to improve and enhance soil quality”. 

Currently, Jon’s management focuses on working with ten different contractors, all high quality operators each with their specialist areas and knowledge. “We access some of our cropping options through them,” he says; adding that while he is cost conscious, he is seeking to build close working relationships and he has respect for those prepared to invest in their equipment.  Jon continues: “Ryegrass and black grass are a big issue for us that we constantly work on, using a wide diversity of crops is a line of attack which is currently providing huge benefit.” 

Jon explains: “Cereals account for 500 acres, with all the straw being utilised on 50 acres of carrots, with early lifting planned between April and May. While the carrots are a worthwhile and generally profitable crop, there are difficulties in terms of soil damage and difficulties in managing the carbon: nitrogen ratio. Parsnips could be a possibility for the future”.  

He challenges the students to know the cost of wheat production: “For us it is £125/tonne.  Farmers generally are not good at selling, yet the grain price itself is the single biggest factor affecting the profitability of wheat .Currently the pound is working in our favour.” 

While the only capital equipment currently owned by the Sundorne Estate farming enterprise is a moisture meter, the farm does have and utilizes both modern and traditional farm buildings as part of the farming enterprise. At present the Estate has grain storage capacity of 2,400 tonnes, with a further 300 tonnes of grain presently stored in a contractors’ store; however there are plans to significantly improve storage capacity within the Estate. 

At Downton Farm, on the Estate, there is a range of traditional farmbuildings that are currently used for storage of straw, chemicals, fertilizer, feed for the Estate shoot and water for arable crop spraying. One of their challenges is to maximise the steading’s farm buildings without a sale, as part of a re-organisation of the buildings used in connection with the farming operation. Holiday lets or residential are possibilities and thanks to the Estate’s tree and hedge planting policy in recent times the land is both aesthetically pleasing and contributing to conservation as well as being productive and profitable. Another challenge for the students is how to prepare the farm business to mitigate potential reduction in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).  

It is not just the A49, which has intersected this large farming enterprise, pylons and power lines run directly across the arable land and are serviced by a substation surrounded by Estate land. Stepping into the future Jon sees a potential opportunity for companies seeking industrial scale battery storage. 

The IAgrM FarmPlanner Competition is geared to ensure that today’s agricultural students are fully engaged in rural management, which pushes the boundaries of technology, science and entrepreneurial flare. For those chosen to take Sundorne Estate to the next level, there are high stakes: a bonus to the CV and job prospects and potential media kudos.

This year’s event, the 24th annual such competition, is nationally sponsored by Farmplan and Bayer, with additional local sponsorship from Hutchinsons, Lloyds Banks and CF Fertilisers. There are five tickets for the winning team to attend the International Farm Management Congress in Edinburgh from 2 – 7 July 2017 – where the seeds of the next generation will be the harvest of reality. 

For further information about the 2016/2017 IAgrM FarmPlanner Competition, visit the IAgrM website.


Jon Birchall, Balfours consultant and Richard Cooksley, IAgrM director with the moisture meter.


farmplan RC and JB


farmplan harper students

farmplan Jon Birchall

We are proud to work with AMC the leading supplier of long-term funding for the agricultural sector.

As AMC Agents, we can provide you with tailored funding to support most rural business activities. You’ll benefit from simple, flexible and affordable lending to support your consolidation, growth or diversification plans.

Who are AMC?

AMC have more than 85 years’ experience lending to the agricultural sector, specialising in long-term mortgages and loans for farms and rural businesses. It means they understand the challenges and opportunities impacting you and the whole agricultural sector.

The benefits of AMC finance

  • When we help you access AMC finance, you will receive a swift response on your funding proposal. You will also benefit from:
  • Competitive mortgage rates, with interest-only and repayment options available or a blend of both
  • Rates can be set for the life of the agreement, unlike many other secured loans or overdraft agreements
  • No annual reviews or the need to see annual accounts – we leave you alone to get on with the business of farming
  • No early repayment charges for variable rate loans
  • Finance secured against land as well as property to help you increase the capital you can raise
  • Loans and mortgage agreements can be transferred to the next generation
  • Access to AMC’s experienced and knowledgeable support teams who understand the sector’s unique funding needs
  • Funding decisions that can be approved in principal before you make a sealed bid or go to auction

Please note that the above are subject to AMC credit criteria and your obligations to AMC continuing to be met.

Who can access AMC funding?

Whether you are a sole trader, partnership, limited company or trust, providing you are an agricultural, horticultural, equine or other commercial land-based business you can access AMC’s competitive funding.

All lending must be for business purposes only and will be provided on a secured loan basis. It can be used to support a number of different opportunities, including:

  • Land purchase
  • New equipment or machinery
  • Building new or improving current structures
  • Diversification plans
  • New stock
  • Buying a farm tenancy
  • Refinancing current debt
  • Working capital support
  • Paying out a business/family partner to gain sole control

Types of loan available through AMC

AMC’s tailored finance is structured within two core products.

  • Long-term borrowing – allowing you to borrow from £25,001 upwards through a long-term standard-loan. Repayment terms are available between five and 30 years, with interest rates that can be variable or fixed*.
  • Flexible short-term loans – giving you loans from £30,000+ that can be spread over five years and the opportunity to make flexible monthly repayments to match the ebbs and flows of your cash flow throughout the year.

* There is always a possibility that interest rates may go down leaving a fixed rate loan at a higher level compared to a variable rate loan. However, if interest rates rise, a fixed rate loan will remain at the same rate.

How can Balfours help?

As an AMC Agent we have helped our clients find tailored and competitive agricultural loans through our relationship with AMC. We can provide expert guidance on your financial needs and a quick decision.  To discuss the options of borrowing from AMC and how they could assist you please call Rory Galliers 01743 241181 or Peter Wright 01588 673314 in confidence or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

AMC loans available for business purposes only, provided on a secured loan basis. Minimum AMC standard loan £25,001, minimum flexible facility £30,000. To meet customer requirements, lending criteria will vary. Lending is subject to status.

Due to the Brexit referendum results, base interest rates are at an historic low, unheard of in modern times, having dropped at one point by 0.75% since June 23.  Long term fixed rates have since started to rise, probably on worry of future inflation, but now remains a good time to consider consolidating loans, implementing expansion or realising new enterprises, says Rory Galliers Balfours partner and agent for AMC.

He explains: “When banks can offer long term funding ataround 4%, then it really isn’t going to get any better. The cost of long term borrowing has dropped since the referendum, but is now starting to edge.

“As we approach the government’s self-imposed March 2017 deadline to invoke Article 50, it is hard to judge what will happen particularly now that we have the High Court ruling which may hamper that deadline and of course America has President Trump.  One can only assume that taking advantage of low interest rates, whilst available, must make good sense to consolidate current borrowings; take forward projects, diversify and develop the business and to acquire land or property.

“The potential problem is that as the value of the pound falls and the stock market rises then inflation is likely; and at some point counter inflation measures, which could include interest rate rises, would have to be implemented.” Rory observes.

“We have found that reassessing fixed rate loans taken out when rates were higher, adding any redemption penalties to the balance and restructuring the whole into a new loan at current day interest rates can prove cost effective in some cases. Paying redemption fees may be a bitter pill and may not be insubstantial, nevertheless if it means the business is better off in the future then it is a no brainer,” he adds.

And while feasibility studies may not have warranted investment two or five years ago, right now the figures may look very different. “We have clients coming to us to successfully consolidate their current loan facility and to push on with the next phase of investment, be it the purchase of land, to refurbishment of barns, green energy or expansion of a current enterprise.”

Having established that consolidation or investment is required what terms to sign up to can be argued several ways. Should it be a repayment loan or interest only?  Says Rory: “One school of thought is that in 30 years’ time £100,000 could be the price of a cup of coffee, so to speak, and in which case what would be the point of paying the capital. Indeed it is a fact that in the past farm loans taken on interest only agreements have been paid off at the end of the term with one milk cheque. However there is a certain reassurance of a repayment loan in knowing that the capital is being paid off throughout the term. Every case is different and must be judged very carefully by the borrower and his financial advisor.”

He continues: “One reason for not making capital repayments is that only the interest on a loan is tax deductible, although this may also be subject to restriction with new regulations due to be phased in from April 2017 . There is currently no tax relief for paying off capital therefore if cash flow is sensitive and a view is taken on inflation over thirty years –there is an argument for an interest only loan, which will only be one to one and a half per cent higher than a standard repayment loan.

“For smaller loans over a shorter time frame interest rates will be scaled accordingly, for example a loan of £50,000 at 4.5% fixed for ten years, could well be a very good deal and highly viable. Agricultural loans are usually to a maximum of 60% of the security offered, so to borrow £1m assets to the value of about £1.7m would be used as security.

“Showing the loan can be serviced through three years’ accounts is also an important benchmark, though there are occasions when forward cash forecasts can be taken into account. When a client approaches us we can prepare the loan application after which our first port of call is usually AMC who have a reputation as ‘lend and leave,’ so long as payments are made they let you get on with your business,” Rory concludes.

If you are looking to invest in agricultural property or land, see our Agricultural Listings and Development Opportunities or contact our sales team on 01743 353511.

Monday, 14 November 2016 00:00

Generous space, with maturity

A stunning and spacious contemporary kitchen breakfast room is among the assets on offer at The Mount. This well-presented three bedroom Edwardian home is located in the popular village of Minsterley, ten miles west of Shrewsbury.

Marketed by Balfours, internally The Mount has many period features: From sash windows and high ceilings to the decorative timber front gable and arch with recessed front door. The stained glass door and flanking windows is a refurbished feature offering the best of both worlds.

Each of the ground floor rooms are accessed from the spacious entrance hall. There are two reception rooms, currently used as living room with bay window and dining room with French doors. There is a downstairs cloakroom.

Agent, Tim Main says: “The jewel in the crown is the very generously sized kitchen breakfast room. This has been tastefully fitted with a kitchen island and contemporary fitted units which complement the high ceilings, while a fireplace and bay window offer an area in which to relax. To the far end of the kitchen is a utility room and below stairs a useful cellar.”

There are three bedrooms on the first floor, together with a family bathroom. A separate shower-room and two dressing rooms, which do, if so minded have the potential as en-suite facility.

The large mature garden incorporates a decked area with direct access to the dining room. Outside there is also parking and a garden shed. The property is close to the Shropshire Hills which is an Area of Outstanding Beauty. This is a living, working place, loved by locals and visitors alike for its quality of environment, for walking and activities of all levels.

The Mount is marketed with a guide price of £320,000; for more information call Tim Main on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further details.


Mount main

Mount garden

Mount door

Mount kitchen

A spacious four bedroom barn conversion located six miles from Shrewsbury has been launched to the market by Balfours.

The Old Stables, Stapleton, would have been home to the farm’s Shire Horses – such is the capacity of the stabling – now bespoke living accommodation. Over the threshold the entrance hall links to each of the downstairs rooms.

Agent Scott Kemsley explains: “The kitchen breakfast room, which opens through into a dedicated dining area, is exquisitely fitted with a handmade oak kitchen, where glazing to two aspects offers good natural light. A generous 50 square metres creates the open plan living room, where the chimney breast, with log burner, semi divides offering a cosy retreat area.”

Ascending stairs from the hall, where the wc and storage space can also be found, the first floor provides a sumptuous master bedroom with ensuite and built in wardrobes, together with a further three bedrooms and family bathroom.

Today the Old Stables – accommodates the passage of time with a double garage – and above is the added bonus of a family room with cloakroom, ideal for hobbies, play or a guestroom. This space also provides a significant amount of storage, from whence Father Christmas and other annual artefacts can emerge for their special seasons, including ball on the lawned garden.

Scott adds: “The Old Stables, Stapleton, is within a popular village setting, while providing easy links to the county town and Midlands, together with excellent accessibility to state and private schools.  The property is marketed with a guide price of £425,000, for more information call Scott Kemsley on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further information.

 old stables main NEW





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