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Farming Talk, Frances Steer


 Thirty Million Trees


The new Government pledged in their manifesto to plant thirty million trees per year over the UK. With such large numbers being discussed it is difficult to get ones’ head around what the implementation of this would look like.

To put this into context, 56% of UK’s land area is farmland and 34% is existing “nature land” moor, heath and forestry totalling an approximate area of 53 million acres.  If you assume the nature land is already planted or sequestering carbon that leaves 30 million acres of farmland remaining capable of being planted.

That equates to one tree per acre per annum.  To look at it another way it is half of the population in the UK planting one tree a year. This certainly does not seem impossible. 

However with tree diseases as well as an ever increasing population, housing and food production continue to increase the pressure on land use in the UK.

Co-ordinated and long term thinking and ensuring any tree planting is in an appropriate location will be key.  Landowners should think carefully about how trees can be used to minimise both their carbon footprints as well as those of companies potentially looking to offset emissions. Contact Frances Steer BA (Hons) MSc MRICS FAAV to discuss further. 

sy20 edited-1 RUSSELL DAVIES


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Christmas Opening 2019


Our offices will be open throughout the festive period, apart from public holidays on the 25th, 26th December and 1st January 2020.


We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



Christmas Card Pic

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Farming Future – Growing Zero Carbon Capture


Farming for food and, or the environment in the foreseeable future is going to yield huge challenges and opportunities for the agricultural sector.

Professionals, from the legal and financial world, attending Balfours Xtra, recently (Nov 26) heard how the government’s 25 year Environmental Land Management System, ELMS, is targeted to provide public money for public goods, with one flexible contract, one set of guidance and mass uptake.

However Balfours partner, Andrew Liddiment, speaking at the professionals briefing, says that many of the targets within ELMS will leave farming enterprises with greatly reduced incomes. “Modelling suggests net farm profits, in some sectors, may reduce by 50% + in ELMS as opposed to Basic Farm Payment.”

He continues: “ELMS tests and trials commenced in 2018 and by 2021 some 1250 pilot schemes are anticipated, with the system fully operational and to take over a phased out BPS by 2028. These are unrealistic targets in the current political climate and an administrative burden. As is the idea that there would be 82,000 agreements by 2028, knowing that only 18,000 stewardship agreements are in place under the current environmental schemes! 

“Ambitions within ELMS include assisting in the aim of net zero carbon by 2050. To achieve the aim tree cover, currently at 13%, will increase to 19% equating to an average of 50,000 hectares per annum set to forestry, plus a further five to ten per cent of land switching to agro forestry.  It will be marginal ground currently used by livestock farmers for beef and sheep that will be targeted to achieve the ELMS target.”

He said that arable and livestock sectors will be worst off averaging 40 to 50% less income, while dairy and those farming in Less Favoured Areas, will fair slightly better, on present scheme models. Those in the top quartile of profitability will be best equipped to survive - and progress new opportunities.”

He concluded that a carbon net zero UK has yet to address the practical issues of infrastructure and networks. “There will need to be a mass update of power supplies to deliver the power required, including fast charging networks for cars – this will surely create opportunities not only for custodians of the land, but also their agents and professional providers.”

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Ask the Expert, Charlotte White of Balfours


What is a Probate Valuation?

Till Death Us Do Part

It happens to the best of us and all that is left behind is the evidence of our lifetime of work; our Estate and as with everything in life, nothing is free and that includes dying. 

On death, our Estate is taxed at a rate of 40% on anything over the £325,000.00 threshold – there are some reliefs available for various business and agricultural property assets.  But in general terms, if your Estate (including any property, land, stocks, shares, art, jewelry, cash etc.) is worth say £525,000.00 then £200,000.00 is liable to be taxed at 40% meaning that £80,000.00 of your Estate will be heading to HMRC (this may be subject to various other reliefs available).  So, if losing a loved one is not hard enough, you then have the paperwork to deal with and tax to pay. 

It is possible to carry out indicative valuations during lifetime but on death the value of your Estate property will involve a fully compliant RICS ‘Red Book’ Valuation.   Technically these are for the purposes of Inheritance Taxation but are commonly referred to as being ‘Probate Valuations’.

The valuation requires the Executors of the Estate to instruct a property valuation report to be completed on their behalf.  The valuation process follows the order of:

-        Written instruction received, agreed and confirmed;

-        Valuer physically inspects the subject property;

-        Valuer undertakes due diligence, desk top enquiries and gathers appropriate comparable evidence;

-        Valuer compiles report – normally c. 50 pages with appendices;

-        Valuer signs and issued the report to client (and legal representative).

The granting of probate can be long and arduous – obtaining a robust property valuation report in a timely manner can ease this process and enable the legal element to be dealt with more efficiently at what can be a difficult time for relatives.


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Prime Property To Let in Ludlow


The external allure of this three bedroom town house reflects perfectly its surrounds in the heart of the mediaeval market town of Ludlow. Four Pelican Court, found not far from the Castle Square in the town centre, has been launched to the market to let with Balfours.

Perfect Balance

Step inside and the finish achieves a perfect balance between its origins, centuries ago, and a new millennium lifestyle. The high standard of finish incorporates oak flooring and doors, and a bespoke kitchen with slate floor. There is a generous number of sash windows enabling natural light to flood in.

The accommodation comprises of an entrance hall, sitting room, kitchen and utility room. The bedrooms are found on the first and second floor, with a master bedroom with en-suite and two bedrooms sharing a generous family bathroom.

Head of Lettings at Balfours, Charlotte George MARLA, comments: “This is a beautifully restored and updated three bedroom town house with the benefit of gas central heating and allocated parking. It is one of those properties which has total appeal and is completely practical too.”  Balfours are marketing Four Pelican Court at £1,200pcm.

For further details please visit our Property Lettings Page.


Pelican sitting


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Property Sales – Amid Political Turbulence


Prospective property vendors can take steps to progress their aims, despite the current uncertain political climate, according to one of Shropshire’s leading estate agents.

Addressing professionals at Balfours Xtra, near Shrewsbury, yesterday (Nov 26) Charlie Giffard, associate partner country house sales, acknowledges: “People have a wait and see approach, but there are real opportunities by initiating bespoke marketing lines for each client.

“Our aim is to have a good knowledge of the market and our clients’ objectives: What is driving their sale, personal, health or work reasons? When things are slow the first reaction is to look at the price, in reality we are not seeing an erosion of values the market is just quieter.”

Charlie told a packed audience, bespoke marketing – with incentivised structures, including “off market” whilst the market is so uncertain – enables everything to be ready to launch and promote when the time is right. Meantime with fifty per cent of Balfours buyers coming from outside the area a deal may well be brokered without even “going live with promotion.”

Ludlow sales manager, Scott Kemsley explained how some opportunities go against the current market trend: “As an agent you think this project or land is ‘market proof’ – and we can go to market regardless.”

They concluded that it is a discretionary market, but by understanding and working with the market, nationally and locally, while maximising marketing technology, quality photographs, floor plans and maps to manage and achieve client aspirations is the way forward, in readiness for when market confidence returns.

xtra SK CG

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