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Land letting trends


This year has seen an increasing trend to offer tenancies to known individuals “off market,” according to Agent, Andrew Liddiment of Balfours Property Professionals.

He says: “Agricultural lettings conducted by Balfours have all been met with strong demand, with a noticeable increase in tenancies offered to known individuals off market. In my involvement with four new lettings – which have all been very different units; only one was put to the open market. Despite this, all have yielded excellent applications and results. It’s a picture that is replicated by other agents too.”

Andrew says that in each case the certainty of achieving progressive relationships and land management objectives was the driver, bolstered by the knowledge that income did not have to be sacrificed to achieve these aims.

He continues: “Farmers are seeking extra land to ensure equipment and infrastructure is working for them with maximum efficiency, with depressed commodity prices at present analysing and creating efficiencies in a farming business is key.  Those who have been successful in expanding by taking on extra tenanted land have one thing in common, they appreciate excellent husbandry and a track record of good relations are very important to prospective landlords and key to expansion in this way.’

“From the landlord’s viewpoint re-letting is time consuming, disruptive and costly, so if it must be done we must ensure we get it right.

“This year we have let very different land packages, from top grade arable, to land requiring improvement, across Shropshire and neighbouring counties. Throughout the driver has been the mutual benefit of both parties,” he adds. Andrew, who is based at Balfours Craven Arms office, can be contacted on 01588 673314.

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Grade II listed barn, A* conversion


Craftsmanship, quality materials and semi-open plan living lift this grade II listed barn into A* category.

Number two, Beeches Barn is a stunning four bedroom stone barn conversion in an idyllic location, just above the village Marton, situated on the Shropshire/Welsh border. Local amenities are found within the village while Welshpool and Shrewsbury six and 16 miles respectively are each easy commutes.

Agent, Tim Main of Balfous says: “The property has been finished with high quality materials, including limestone flooring and oak doors, window frames and staircase. There is a real wow factor in the open plan sitting, dining room, which spans more than ten metres by four and a half. A Clearview stove is a focal point within a central wall.”

The kitchen is of similar dimensions with central island and dedicated dining area, a limestone floor and glazing to three aspects add to the light ambiance, while exposed beams are a feature throughout the property. The kitchen provides access to the utility where appliances are plumbed and incorporating a separate wc and a link door offers access directly to the garage.

With underfloor heating on both levels, the property is void of radiators – ensuring that space is maximised. There are four double rooms on the first floor, the master room with en-suite facilities and a family bathroom. 

Says Mr Main: “This is a fabulous and very well presented property well worthy of viewing. The area is ideal for those who enjoy country pursuits, while being easily accessible to road networks and a good selection of private and state schools.”

Two, Beeches Barn is marketed with a guide price of £450,000. For more information call Tim Main on 01743 353511 or visit

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County’s residential sale hot-spots - patchy


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


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


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

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Landlords urged to act on Gas Safety Week


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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