Stepping into 2020 with 20/20 Vision

Thomas Armstrong

With the UK struggling under the continued economic uncertainty of a prolonged and drawn-out BREXIT and farming communities still bearing the consequences of the adverse weather conditions earlier in the year, we must ask the obvious question, has it been all doom and gloom? 

Thomas Armstrong, Assistant Director and Chartered Surveyor, of H&H Land & Estates, one of the North's leading Chartered Surveyors, Agricultural Land Agents and Valuers across the North of England and Southern Scotland, reflects on a year of highs and lows across the industry:

“Earlier in the year, we launched our new united brand identity of H&H Land & Estates incorporating the former H&H Land and Property, H&H King, Michael CL Hodgson, and Smeatons Estate Agency.  This resulted in merging the property and estate agency teams into one multi-disciplinary advisory team.

“With regards to the sale of land, rural and agricultural property throughout 2019, there has been a clear pattern forming with fewer properties coming to the market throughout all areas.  This has been attributed largely to buyers and sellers’ wariness of the potential impacts of BREXIT and the uncertain future.  Encouragingly interest rates have remained low but buyers are not being tempted due to the potential risks involved in buying in an uncertain market.

“With fewer purchasers and sellers willing to take the risk of buying or selling in the market, those that have been marketed have in the North East received good levels of interest and have sold quickly.  For example, Gibshiel Farm in Northumberland, a very well-presented upland smallholding, received high levels of interest and from the point at which the property was put on the market, the sale completed within a swift four months.

“In Cumbria, there has also been a shortage of farmland coming to the market, down 30 – 40% on last year with demand outstripping supply.  Interestingly, it has been noted that on average, farms are turning over only once in every 200 years! 

“Again, Cumbrian farms that have come to the market have sold keenly and this market has stayed relatively buoyant. As we head towards 2020 the average land prices have now started to plateau.  As always, location and access are crucial, and we are seeing significant differences in sale prices as a result of this.

Thomas Armstrong, Assistant Director & Chartered Surveyor, H&H Land & Estates

“One area that has remained a consistent performer and highly sought after is amenity land.  At our Kendal auction in September, with a packed auction room, one parcel of amenity land located off Holbeck Lane in Troutbeck with a guide price of £20 - £25,000, saw the gavel go down at £75,000, three times over its estimate and a staggering £38,860 per acre. 

“A less than positive effect on the agricultural community, has been the fact that is has been the poor year for beef and sheep farmers, and the recent rise in lamb prices can only be described as “a little too late for this year but good news moving into 2020.”  

 

“In terms of the support which has been and is currently available to agricultural businesses it is a case of use it or lose it.  As such it is difficult to understand why there has been a general lack of uptake in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which opened up to farmers, foresters and land managers back in February.   

 

This scheme offers a massive opportunity for extra support in the areas of conserving wildlife habitats, flood risk management, woodland creation and management, reducing water pollution from agriculture, preserving the character and historical features of the countryside and encouraging educational access.  The current grants are easy to obtain and we encourage any eligible business to go on the https://www.gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants website to find out more as the funding really should be taken advantage of.

 

Another grant that is available is the Hedgerows & Boundaries Grant, these are capital grants and another area that is extremely accessible and obtainable with £11.60 per metre available to eligible businesses wanting to replace or extend existing hedgerows.

 

“Areas to watch out for post-Brexit and moving into 2020, will be the Rural Growth Programme - £35 million of EU funding available for diversification projects for adding value and tourism.  The scheme, run by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), aims to create diversifications that boost rural jobs, increase tourism and encourage business growth. The deadline for expressions of interest is 16 February 2020.

 

 

“Post-EU, everyone is asking the question, what does the future hold? The Basic Payment Scheme is on its way out and that is, of course, a threat, but at the same time, there will be something to replace it, which will be more environmental and public-goods focused, which may be more than a payment per area. 

“In the future, conservation will be key, and farmers are being looked upon, whatever types of farms they manage, as custodians of the countryside, and nurturing the habitats nature provides, for the whole country.  Farmers must maximise the opportunities for the younger generation on the farm, identifying diversification prospects for the current markets, and look to see what you can do to spread risk and tap into different markets.”   

Thomas concludes:

“The continued nervousness around BREXIT and the unknown effects of its outcomes remains, however, there really are options out there and my advice is that you keep your ear to the ground for the opportunities, use the winter months to plan ahead and where necessary, to diversify and protect your business so that it is fit for the future.”

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What Our Customers Say

  • We found Andrew and Kathy to be extremely professional. They guided us through the whole process seamlessly. Cannot recommend H&H highly enough. Thank you.

    Rhona King

    28th February 2019

  • Friendly and professional service at all times. Great service. Tracey is fabulous.

    Saiorse Cosgrove

    10th September 2019

  • Excellent service from valuation through to completion. Very friendly staff and extremely professional. Thank you very much Andrew and Kathy in the Penrith office for your help. Can’t praise them enough.

    J Carver

    13th September 2019

  • Personal, professional and friendly, the team at H&H in Penrith truly give you five star treatment. They help you through all the issues which always arise when buying a property and give you peace of mind that everything is being dealt with. We would definitely recommend this great team and would use again in the future.

    Carol Edmondson

    15th September 2019

  • Thomas, Shirley & Alan, we would like to show you our appreciation for everything you did in the preparation and sale of the (now successful) sale of the farm. Thank you.

    The Hill Family

    1st November 2019

  • Over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with Jenna to sort out some issues with a tenant that left and to find a new tenant for my property. You’ve been the managing agent for my flat since 2005 and the service that Jenna has given me recently has been nothing short of superb. She has promptly answered questions, given me reassurance and generally been a godsend over a fairly stressful time. You have a tremendous asset in Jenna.

    J Rowe

    25th February 2020

  • From my first dealings with the valuer who came out to look at my property and telephone dealings with the staff in the office, I have had nothing but excellent service and I would like to thank them all for that. My biggest thanks must go to Gillian, who has helped me all the way from start to finish, she has gone beyond my expectations and helped me in every way possible, her enthusiasm and humour along with her professional service has made my experience of selling my property a very pleasant experience and for that I am very grateful.

    J Hill

    21st August 2019

  • Nothing but praise for the service offered by Andrew and Kathy at H&H King, Penrith. They really put themselves out, not only to ensure that we sold our house but also to find us a house that suited our requirements in the right area. We have no doubts that they are worthy of a 5* rating. N&T

    Neil McGeown

    1st October 2019

  • Thank you so much [Mike] for all your help with the Mid-Tier Application. I couldn't have possibly done it myself and it was such a relief to be able to hand it over to you.

    L. McArthur

    22nd August 2018

  • We are very pleased with the way you dealt with the Scroggs Wood programme. There seemed to be a number of difficulties, but you overcame all these problems and got the timber extracted in good time, and sold it well - we were delighted with the cheques we received. So we wish to thank you warmly for all your efforts, your expertise and your thoroughly professional approach.

    H. Summerson

    31st January 2020