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County’s residential sale hot-spots - patchy

29/09/2015

Shropshire’s residential property market is revealing a few hot-spots, but one agent is cautious of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors which has doubled its property price forecast for 2015 up from a 3% rise to 6%.

The RICS justified its revision as the number of homes for sale fell to the lowest level in more than 30 years, which, combined with rising buyer demand and low interest rates, is pushing up prices.

Head of sales, Tim Main at Balfours Property Professionals, which has offices in Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Hereford, said: “The market remains patchy; we have achieved a number of exceptionally speedy sales this summer, particularly in the £400,000 price region. For instance the sale of Blackhurst Cottagesouth of Shrewsbury was agreed within two weeks and we have sold others amid competition and above guide price.”

However the agent says that is not the case for all: “Unfortunately not all properties are courting such popularity and success in the market which remains patchy; every house and every buyer is individual. The important thing is to get the presentation right, particularly online and to ensure that the unique selling points of the property are highlighted to the buyer who wants something specific to their requirements."

The RICS has also lowered its forecast for the number of transactions for 2015 from 1.25m to 1.2m: “I would endorse this forecast, as we continue to seek stock on behalf of clients, which is why I would urge anyone considering marketing their property to take those first steps, they may well be very pleasantly surprised,” adds Mr Main.

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Appeal wins shepherd’s right to watch flock

29/09/2015

Three years ago the National Planning Policy Framework (The NPPF) replaced most of the previous planning policy statements and guidance.  PPS7 which was the previous guidance for planning in the countryside contained four pages on guidance relating to tied dwellings for forestry or agriculture.  The new guidance is condensed to one paragraph of which only two lines relate to tied dwellings.

You may imagine that the simplified guidance would lead to a simplified planning process, this is not our experience. Despite the change in National Planning Guidance three years ago, some Local Planning Authorities are still resisting applications for new agricultural workers dwellings on unjustified grounds. 

In a recent case we were involved in, the Local Planning Authority refused a new agricultural workers dwelling on a 400 acre farm on the basis that the main enterprise was a sheep flock of 1,100 sheep and that a full time dwelling was not required.  The Council justified their decision on the basis that a full time presence was only required during lambing and that a farm manager could live in a caravan on the farm during the busy lambing period at springtime. 

Happily, we were able to demonstrate at a Planning Appeal that the Council’s approach was unjustified and that a full time dwelling was required.   The Planning Inspector, having heard arguments from both sides, agreed with me and allowed the appeal.   Whilst this decision was obviously welcomed, it is frustrating. There should not have been the need to go to appeal if the Council had not sought to apply a blanket policy “that sheep only farms do not need a permanent dwelling,” without looking at the individual facts of the case.

It is not just the NPPF which has tried to simplify the planning process.   Permitted Development Rights now allow the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential and other various uses or the conversion of offices to residential.  However, on the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential use we are seeing different approaches being taking by various Local Planning Authorities but generally these rights are helping speed up decisions as these must be made within 56 days unlike a planning application.

As an aside, looking back at statistics, ten years ago nationally 83% of applications were approved compared to last year where 88% were approved.  This would suggest simplification is working, it just does not feel like it all the time! Justin Stevenson planning consultant and associate partner with Balfours Property Professionals, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Bridge to Own Home

21/09/2015

Perfect for first time buyers or buy to let, 4 Sutton Bridge is located less than a mile from Shrewsbury town centre at Belle Vue, a popular residential area just to the south of the county town.

Launched to the market by Balfours Property Professionals, town sales manager, Alistair Hilton, enthuses: “This Sutton Bridge apartment is purpose built, light, airy and contemporary and provides entrance hall access, a good sized living room, with well equipped kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.”

Number 4 has its own allocated parking space as well as dedicated bicycle and bin storage area. Its proximity to Shrewsbury – is ideal for those seeking a healthy lifestyle, with many amenities just a stroll away, including The Quarry Park, Shrewsbury’s individual shops and restaurants, plus night life too.

For commuting Shrewsbury station is 1.3 miles on foot, while the Midlands road network is less than two miles away, as is Meole Brace Retail Park.

Number 4 Sutton Bridge is marketed with a guide price of £165,000, for more information call Alistair Hilton on 01743 353511 or visit www.balfours.co.uk.

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Landlords urged to act on Gas Safety Week

21/09/2015

Landlords are legally bound to arrange a “Gas Safe” test every twelve months and those failing to do so could be putting lives and health at risk and leaving themselves open to prosecution.

The message comes from Balfours letting agent, Charlotte George MARLA, during “gas safety week, (Sept 14)” she is highlighting the perils for both tenants and landlords. “Unsafe gas really does wreck lives, not only can it kill, there were six deaths and 300 injuries in the UK, last year alone, but it can also make people very ill. A poorly maintained gas boiler can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Most landlords would be utterly devastated if something dreadful happened to their tenants which they should have prevented. For most the economic damage would pail into insignificance compared to the guilt of such an occurrence.”  

Charlotte advises landlords to put rented accommodation in the hands of a registered agent, who will ensure the tests are carried out annually.

For tenants the advice is clear: “Rent your property through a reputable agent and be confident that your gas appliances are properly maintained,” she adds. Charlotte can be contacted on 01743 277069.

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Bridge to own home

18/09/2015

Perfect for first time buyers, or buy to let, 4 Sutton Bridge is located less than a mile from Shrewsbury town centre, at Belle Vue, a popular residential area, just to the south of the county town.

Launched to the market by Balfours Property Professionals, town sales manager, Alistair Hilton, enthuses: “Sutton Bridge is purpose built apartments, light airy and contemporary offering: Entrance hall access, a good sized living room, with well equipped kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.”

Number 4 has its own allocated parking space as well as dedicated bicycle and bin storage area. Its proximity to Shrewsbury – is ideal for those seeking a healthy lifestyle, with many amenities just a stroll away including The Quarry Park, Shrewsbury’s individual shops, restaurants and night life too.

For commuting Shrewsbury station is just 1.3 miles on foot, while the Midlands road network is less than two miles away, as is Meole Brace Retail Park.

Number 4 Sutton Bridge is marketed with a guide price of £165,000, for more information call Alistair Hilton on 01743 353511 or visit www.balfours.co.uk

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South Shropshire farm on the market

18/09/2015

A rare opportunity to purchase a mixed farm extending 337 acres in South Shropshire has been launched to the market by Balfours Property Professionals.

Lower Down Farm, Lydbuy North, is on the market as a whole or in four lots. It briefly comprises of arable land, improved grassland and permanent pasture serviced by traditional and modern farm buildings, five bedroom farmhouse and three cottages.

Head of sales at Balfours, Tim Main says: “The opportunity to buy a working farm has become a relatively rare occurrence, particularly in Shropshire. Lower Down Farm, Lydbury North, is just such a farm – offering an exciting proposition for those seeking to expand or invest; be it the whole, or one of the four lots.”

Each of the four lots includes land and buildings: Lot one comprises the picturesque five bedroom grade II listed farmhouse, with 136 acres. The land mainly down to grass with a small amount of woodland and a pair of cottages, plus the main steading of traditional and modern farm buildings. Lot 2 comprises of the arable land extending 171 acres together with traditional buildings and a Dutch barn. The guide prices are £1.6m and £1.35m respectively.

While lot three, known as Blue Barn, offers 15 acres together with traditional and modern farm buildings. Lot four is a detached three bedroom cottage – presenting that dream combination of location and a refurbishment project. The Stanley Cottage package comes with 15 acres and outbuildings; it has a guide price of £245,000. Lower Down Farm as a whole is on the market with a guide price of £3,325,000.

Lydbury North is south east of Bishops Castle, which offers a livestock market and other services. There are also livestock markets at Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Welshpool.

For more information please call Tim Main on 01743 353511 or visit www.balfours.co.uk

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