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Tuesday, 13 December 2016 00:00

Ludlow town landmark on the market

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A slice of Ludlow’s heritage is on the market. Castle Lodge, is a magnificent Grade II* listed medieval town house of long standing historical significance and once home to Catherine of Aragon.

Standing in the prime location of Ludlow’s Castle Square, this Elizabethan timber framed town house provides four large reception rooms, plus kitchen dining room and twelve bedrooms; there is also significant attic space on the third floor.

Agent Scott Kemsley, of Balfours says: “This is a very rare opportunity to own and enjoy a piece of Ludlow’s heritage and town landmark, with the prospect for commercial or residential use, from restaurant to boutique guest house or family home, subject to planning consent.”

Used as a film set in the 1960s as the backdrop to the film version of Moll Flanders, Castle Lodge  boasts a Chapel, Great Hall, Court room and drawing room among its reception rooms: Rooms which  live up to expectations with exquisitely carved timber panelling, reputedly originating from Nonsuch Palace.

Castle Lodge has some of the largest collection of oak panelling in England and dates from the early 13th century, rebuilt in 1580. In Tudor times it was the home of Elizabeth I's Master of Requests and was once used as a prison. The principle rooms are each steeped in history, with oak board flooring and original fireplaces.

Probably Castle Lodge, along with Ludlow Castle is most famous for being the residence of Catherine of Aragon, whilst she was married to Prince Arthur. She later went on to marry Henry VIII, Arthur's younger brother after his death from tuberculosis.

Castle Lodge has been privately owned throughout its history and was a hotel up until the Second World War. Scott adds: “Ludlow is not only a lively and diverse market town, but is renowned as a fabulous and growing centre of tourism. Castle Lodge has unmeasured potential to tap into tourism and fine dining. Castle Lodge is marketed by Balfours with a guide price of £900,000. For more information call Scott Kemsley on 01743 353511.

Please click here for further details.

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Monday, 05 December 2016 00:00

Pools, paddocks and heritage

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A swimming pool, stables, fields and a manege are among the assets of New Hall, in North Shropshire.

Dating back to the 15th century, this listed property, near Dudleston, Ellesmere, provides well-proportioned rooms over two floors extending to a vast 6,000 square feet. The property comprises of entrance hall with inner lobby accessing four reception rooms, three of which benefit from woodburning stoves, while the dining room has a beamed fireplace.

The kitchen is a generous 300 square feet and incorporates an Aga. Beyond the kitchen is a large utility room and cloakroom. On the first floor there are seven bedrooms, a family bathroom and shower room.

New Hall is launched to the market by Balfours agent, Duncan Scobie, who says the property’s unique character with oak floorboards, inglenook fireplaces and large sash windows weaves many centuries into the fabric of the property.

Says Duncan: “There is the most wonderful twisted balustrade oak staircase originating from around 1750. In addition to its history, New Hall has an abundance of lifestyle features, from the stables and swimming pool, to the paddocks, three ponds, woodland and orchard; in all extending to 8.5 acres.

The property is accessed via a drive within its rural setting. The market towns of Ellesmere and Oswestry are three and seven miles respectively, while Shrewsbury is 20 miles and Chester 25 miles. There are many good private and state schools within comfortable commuting distance.

New Hall is marketed by Balfours with a guide price of £750,000. For more information call Duncan Scobie on 01743 7353511.



New Hall swimming pool

New Hall reception room

New Hall hall

Monday, 05 December 2016 00:00

Professionals annual Xtra

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Shrewsbury’s professionals were given a snapshot of the potential consequences of a tumultuous year of politics for property and landowners in the county. The annual Balfours Xtra seminar attracted some 70 professionals, from accountants to lawyers and bankers, at the Mytton and Mermaid, near Shrewsbury recently (November 28).

Take home messages included: Over the last 12 months the average increase in Shropshire’s house prices are performing at a highly sustainable 5%, according to town sales manager, Alistair Hilton. And interest rates at an historic low and well worth taking advantage of according to Balfours partner Rory Galliers; though he cautioned inflation could kick in as Brexit and the fiscal future unfold.

Chair of the event and Balfours partner David Groves compared the political and economic climate to conditions witnessed in David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, saying: “The moral is to be as sure footed as the mountain goats and, like the flying lizards, have a backup plan.”

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Monday, 05 December 2016 00:00

Greenland reassurance for UK economy

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Shrewsbury’s professionals were given a snapshot of the potential consequences of a tumultuous year of politics for property and landowners in the county.

The annual Balfours Xtra seminar attracted some 70 professionals, from accountants to lawyers and bankers, at the Mytton and Mermaid, near Shrewsbury recently (November 28).

Balfours, town sales manager, Alistair Hilton, outlined that despite the surprise outcomes, first of Brexit and more recently in America and the second home tax introduced earlier this year, the two biggest building societies, Nationwide and Halifax, have reported an average 5% increase in UK house price inflation over a twelve month period to October 2016.

He said: “Four to five percent is sustainable growth and shows confidence in the housing market, therefore we are very encouraged. This is despite predictions pre Brexit of a 5% decrease in house prices this year and post Brexit of a 0% increase.”

Alistair outlined the conundrum of politics versus economics. “Triggering Article 50 could be anytime in the next two years; the value of the pound sterling, will it rise or fall? And will the Bank of England raise interest rates, especially if inflation rises as forecasted?

Balfours partner, Rory Galliers, described current interest rates, despite recent wobbles, as being at an historic low and well worth taking advantage of. However he did warn that the low value of the pound could create inflation.

The audience were reminded of Greenland’s experience. Alistair explained, “Greenland entered the EU, then the EEC - European Economic Community - in 1973. However in 1982 they had a referendum, voting to leave, which was completed three years later. The economy did take a hit, but today is a world leader in renewable energy which accounts for 70% of their consumption.”

Chair of the event and Balfours partner David Groves compared the political and economic climate to conditions witnessed in David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, saying: “The moral is to be as sure footed as the mountain goats and, like the flying lizards, have a backup plan.”

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Monday, 05 December 2016 00:00

Period homes push up percentage increase

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A diminishing pool of period properties coming to the market is resulting in strengthening sales of quality period homes, despite a turbulent political year.

This is the message from Balfours town sales manager, Alistair Hilton, who says despite the unchartered waters of Brexit, Trump and stamp duty reform on second homes,  town prices have risen by four to six per cent, depending on post-code; and they have done that year on year for the past four years, which is both very encouraging and sustainable. We hope to see the same again next year with stability going forward.

Recently exchanged is Burnside House in Meole Village, a six bedroom traditional Georgian property, set in an acre of grounds, marketed with a guide price of £855,000. Hillgrove, a 1930s five bedroom property in Shrewsbury’s Porthill sale was completed within months, with a guide price of £875,000.

Says Alistair: “It is not just the larger town houses that are selling well; no marketing was undertaken for a two bedroom flat in St Mary’s Place. It sold quickly with a £295,000 guide price. The flat does have a balcony and views to the river and English Bridge, however it has no parking and yet it yielded £310 per square foot, which is quite exceptional. Meantime a two up, two down in the popular district of Belle Vue achieved £175,500.”

Mitigating the lack of period properties are the increasing stocks of new build, throughout Shrewsbury and its outskirts. Sales recently achieved include Number eight, Column House Gardens, Preston Street, Shrewsbury. Alistair adds: “These four bedroom terraced homes were marketed in the region of £400,000, the final two of the ten home development are now under offer with completion expected well before the end of the year.”


Burnside elevation

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 00:00

Dress your tree for Christmas fizz

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Festive fizz is in the air – thanks to two of Shropshire’s long established businesses. Property and wine experts, Balfours and Tanners have joined forces to launch the county’s “best dressed tree” competition.

Balfours office manager, Abigail Barker, says: “Decorating the tree for Christmas is one of those magical traditions we all take a great pride in. So we thought it would be fun to get people to send in photographs of their tree and the best, whatever form it takes, cool, classy or visual overload will be rewarded with six bottles of Tanners Champagne.”

To be in with a chance of winning six bottles of champagne for Christmas, simply send a photo of your tree to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before December 14.



Monday, 28 November 2016 00:00

High court conversion controversy

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Farming Talk by Justin Stevenson

The Oxford Dictionary defines conversion as “The process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another.”

A high court decision has recently considered what conversion means in relation to permitted development rights for the conversion of agricultural buildings to a residential dwelling.

The case concerned a steel portal framed building with 6 steel uprights and open on three sides.

The planning regulations concerning conversion are described in Class Q. Subject to certain conditions Class Q allows the conversion of an agricultural building into up to three residential dwellings.  The building works reasonable necessary to convert the building are permitted.  The buildings works are limited to the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, or exterior walls which are all permitted. However, the guidance then goes on to state that no new structural elements should be added by the works.

A planning inspector had considered the case.  The inspector accepted that the building’s frame was structurally capable of taking the loads of the panels needed to infill the walls and the corrugated sheet roof could be retained.  However the inspector determined that the works required to infill of the three open sides went beyond what could be consider the conversion of a building and dismissed the appeal.

The applicant then applied to the high court to have the inspector’s decision quashed.  The judge accepted that the case was finely balanced, but came down on the side of the inspector and determined that the proposal could not be considered the conversion of the building, but was a rebuilding.

So what does this mean for owners of agricultural buildings?  Whilst the concept of converting a steel frame building which is open on three or four sides may be appealing to the building’s owner it is clear this goes beyond what can be considered as conversion.  However if one or two sides of the building are open is this building capable of conversion?

Whilst the court’s decision has helped to provide some clarity showing what could be regarded as rebuilding rather than conversion works, what the decision has highlighted is the lack of detail in the permitted development rights.  What is probable is that there will be further cases with different facts to test the line between conversion and rebuilding. Justin Stevenson is head of planning and a partner at Balfours, Shrewsbury office.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 00:00

Autumn statement, letting agent fees

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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

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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..



Friday, 18 November 2016 00:00

House market lacks supply as demand increases

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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.

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