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Orkney Islands Hoxa Head 112-acre site is for sale for £1million

Voice Of EU



It is often cited as one of the best places to live in Britain. And now a vast plot of land in the highly sought-after Orkney Islands is available to buy.

The plot that is for sale extends to 112 acres, but it doesn’t come cheap. It is being sold at auction, where properties often sell for significantly more than the initial guide price. In this case, the guide price is £1million.

The Orkney Islands are an isolated group of islands off the north east of Scotland that are famed for their spectacular landscapes, but while this plot of land contains the remnants of a strategic military site’s buildings it doesn’t come with a house.

Remote location: The land at Hoxa Head, a small settlement on the island of South Ronaldsay

Remote location: The land at Hoxa Head, a small settlement on the island of South Ronaldsay

The land is at Hoxa Head, a small settlement on the island of South Ronaldsay, and it is being sold without planning permission.

The Hoxa Head site was one of the most important strategic bases in the north of Britain during the First and Second World Wars. Some of the concrete hut bases survive, with one or two with upstanding chimney stacks. 

Assuming you can get planning permission, you will also need to fork out to cover the cost of building a house on the land. That cost will be in addition to whatever price is paid for the land. 

One estate agent suggested that a new home could be built on the land subject to the required planning consents.

The site is being sold without planning permission but experts say it could be built on subject to planning permission

The site is being sold without planning permission but experts say it could be built on subject to planning permission

The site at Hoxa Head was one of the most important strategic bases in the north of Britain

The site at Hoxa Head was one of the most important strategic bases in the north of Britain

Some of the concrete hut bases have survived on the site, with one or two with upstanding chimney stacks

Some of the concrete hut bases have survived on the site, with one or two with upstanding chimney stacks

Andrew Parker, of SDL Property Auctions, said: ‘Lots like this one don’t come around very often and the land is already attracting a lot of interest.

‘This is, quite literally, the chance to own a piece of history and what a fascinating past this site has.

‘There’s evident commercial potential here given the fact that the area attracts a high number of tourists, but there are also some exciting residential opportunities to explore too.

‘Subject to planning permission, there’s nothing stopping the successful bidder from building a one-of-a-kind home or even a small scale residential scheme.

‘A design that’s in keeping with the area and a sustainable building approach will inevitably be favoured, but you could create a home that has some of the most spectacular views in the UK.’

The Orkney Islands have been repeatedly ranked high in Halifax’s annual survey of best places to live.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns struck and sent home buyers scurrying for more space, the Orkney Islands were given the title after scoring well on several factors. These include high employment levels, a low crime rate, strong exam results, smaller primary class sizes and good levels of health and happiness.

It was crowned the best to place to live in 2019 after being the runner-up in the Halifax quality of life survey for the previous two years.

Following the global pandemic, its remote location and vast open space to roam freely is likely to make it more appealing than ever.

The online auction is now live and being carried out by SDL Auctions, with an end date of March 17. 

The Orkney Islands have been repeatedly been ranked high in Halifax's annual survey of best places to live

The Orkney Islands have been repeatedly been ranked high in Halifax’s annual survey of best places to live

Buying at auction comes with a word of warning. It is not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced, and you need to do your due diligence on a property before stepping into the auction room – or going online in this case.

Calum Kerr, of mortgage brokers Forensic Property Finance, said: ‘There is a lot to consider here and you need to gather all your intelligence before you even think about bidding at auction.

‘You need to look at location, planning, infrastructure, supply of water and gas, and contamination issues. All these things will come into play and could impact your decision to purchase.

‘There is not a lot of detail here but as a general rule, if it is a bit of arable land outside a village it is probably worth £6,000 to £8,000 an acre. With provisional planning that could go up to £20,000 per acre and full planning up to £150,000 per acre.

‘If you need to raise a mortgage, you will have to satisfy the lender’s requirements. Some background in development or evidence of a track record will help, plus you will likely need a bigger deposit than you would on a mainstream residential deal.’

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Barings provides €72m loan for social housing portfolio (GB)

Voice Of EU



Barings has provided a €71.9m (£62.9m), 15-year loan to finance the acquisition of a social housing portfolio in England by Domus Social Housing Ltd (Domus). Provided under its separate account with investor Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, it is Barings’ first real estate debt exposure to affordable housing in Europe. 


Domus and Fiera Infrastructure Inc, were advised by Excellion Capital on the milestone transaction in which Domus acquired the portfolio, consisting of 54 properties in London, the midlands and the northwest of England with more than 850 beds in the underlying units. The assets are let to UK housing providers that specialise in managing homes for residents with a range of needs, including those experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse. There are over 320,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough, in homeless shelters or in other temporary housing in the UK, according to analysis from Shelter in 2018.


Chris Bates, Head of Europe Real Estate Debt Origination at Barings, said: “Having been actively lending against UK and European residential property for some time now, we were keen to explore opportunities in the affordable housing sector and believe this portfolio is a substantially attractive one to launch us into the market. We are increasingly seeking out opportunities to invest in residential property, given that it provides a long-duration, reliable income that hedges against rising inflation, and are interested in a range of asset classes such as affordable housing, student accommodation, build-to-rent and the private rental sector.”


Sam Mellor, Managing Director and Head of Europe & Asia – Pacific Real Estate Debt at Barings, said: “Increasing our exposure in affordable housing is the right thing to do from both a social impact and a financial investment perspective, reflecting both Barings’ values as a company and our investors’ priorities. With a housing crisis in the UK, as across much of the world, the social case is crystal clear. Barings has significant expertise and experience in the affordable housing sector in the U.S., upon which we’ve drawn for this investment, and we’re eager to continue to combine our global research capabilities with our on-the-ground knowledge to seek to secure returns for our investors.”


Prabjot Mann, Head of Property at Phoenix Group, said: “Phoenix is delighted to have provided €71.9m (£62.9m) for Barings’ first loan supporting affordable housing projects in Europe. Phoenix Group is committed to investments that have a clear social benefit and this loan forms part of our growing portfolio of investments in affordable, supported and social housing. This funding will provide housing to those most in need, and is fully aligned with our approach to responsible investment.”


Alina Osorio, President of Fiera Infrastructure, said: “Domus is a new social infrastructure platform focused on providing critical shelter and support to the most vulnerable members of the community. The investment addresses the social housing supply imbalance in the UK by providing quality accommodations in the areas most at need. We plan to grow our footprint through additional acquisitions, which have been identified and secured in areas experiencing housing supply shortages. We are pleased to have worked with Barings on this milestone financing and look forward to witnessing its significant and measurable social impact on the individuals and communities in which Domus operates.”


Gareth Taylor, Director at Excellion Capital, said: “We are delighted to support Domus Social Housing with its acquisition by working with Barings to provide funding of socially responsible and much needed supported housing across the UK. These properties give the unhoused and most vulnerable individuals in our society the accommodation and the specialist care they require.”

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How to sell your home in 2023: Ten top tips

Voice Of EU



Energy price worries, double-digit inflation, strikes, war and a new government — there’s a lot going on right now, and it’s all beginning to sap the confidence of sellers and buyers.

The market is still robust, with Halifax this month reporting that house prices are 11.5 per cent higher than a year ago, and the typical home now costs a record £294,260. 

But some potential sellers aren’t convinced and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns.

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren't convinced, and believe it's better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren’t convinced, and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Of course, the cuts to stamp duty that Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have announced may change a few minds.

But research by savings website VoucherCodes suggests that rising costs have forced 11 per cent of all potential buyers to delay by at least a year.

And a separate study by Nationwide Building Society says seven in ten would-be first-time buyers are putting their plans on ice for some months at least.

So if you’re looking to sell and prevent your home from languishing on the market for months on end, it may be best to spend the next six months getting into pole position for the market in 2023. 

Here are our ten top tips…

1. Take top-quality photos

Choose your estate agent now and make sure they take photographs of your home as soon as possible, while the weather is still relatively good. 

Then it will look its best regardless of when you decide to list it — and you can choose to start marketing at short notice if the conditions are right.

2. Help your buyer

‘Create a pack including everything you can to reassure buyers and cut delays,’ says Clare Coode, an agent with Stacks Property Search, a buying agency.

‘This should include, for example, a certificate for your wood burner, up-to-date electrical certificates, planning permissions, building regulation sign-offs, information about ownership of boundary walls and documents related to access and rights of way.’

3. Fix a mortgage deal

With interest rates rising, and likely to increase for another 18 months according to commentators, securing a competitive multi-year, fixed-rate mortgage in principle now makes sense. 

But many of these deals have to be acted upon within a few months, so ensure you’re in a position to buy before the deadline expires.

4. Boost energy efficiency

This is a key issue for buyers, even after Liz Truss introduced a financial package to ease the burden of increased energy costs.

‘Double glazing, improved insulation or a new boiler could be achieved in a few months, and would likely boost both the appeal and asking price of your home,’ says Location, Location, Location star Phil Spencer. 

‘There are also solar panels, but these won’t add enough value to recover their cost in the short term.’

5. Update the kitchen

Consumer group the HomeOwners Alliance says the kitchen is worth more per square foot than any other room in the house, so it’s worth making it look tip-top.

Spend autumn and winter refacing the cabinets and smartening up the walls and floor. 

But don’t fit a new kitchen — you won’t recover the cost if you sell soon and an installation hitch could derail plans.

6. Be competitive

Try not to pay too much attention to any one house price index, but look at the overall trend and be prepared to set a competitive asking price in the New Year.

Many estate agents say an asking price at the lower end of your expectations will encourage rival buyers to bid against each other — good news for any seller. 

And an overly ambitious price may see the home stuck on the market, especially during a cost of living crisis.

7. Try a neutral restyle

Declutter, of course — but do more than that. ‘If your interior is looking a little dated in style, then redecorate in line with current trends,’ says Alex Lyle, director of estate agency Antony Roberts, based in West London.

‘But try not to be too ‘out there’ as this may put off some potential buyers. Likewise, if carpets are looking a little tired, think about replacing them or switching to wooden flooring.’

8. Spruce up the garden

‘Assess how badly the garden suffered from the drought,’ says Josephine Ashby of John Bray Estates, an estate agent based in North Cornwall.

‘Something planted in the autumn should be thriving by spring. Outside space is important, so doing anything to spruce it up will be rewarded. 

Fresh gravel, a trellis to hide eyesores, dramatic pots and cleaned-up furniture with pretty cushions are all easy fixes.’

9. Remember the lights

‘Swap old halogen lights for LED fittings,’ says Emma Barkes of Stacks Property Search. ‘These use 80 per cent less energy to produce the same amount of light.

‘Make the change early so you can demonstrate lower winter bills and also to give you time to paint the ceilings, as the fittings will almost certainly be a different size.’

10. Finish old projects 

There’s no excuse for outstanding repairs if you have six months to deal with them, but remember that it can take longer than you think to get a tradesman in.

Maintenance firm HelpmeFix says it typically takes four weeks to get a bricklayer or roofer, and at least a week to get a plumber to do a routine boiler check.

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CBRE IM acquires two logistics assets in Madrid (ES)

Voice Of EU



CBRE Investment Management has acquired two new logistics assets in Madrid, Spain, owned by DWS, with a total gross lettable area of 67,859m².


The first asset, located in Meco, was completed in Q2 2020 and offers 51,969m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Silver rating. The second, in Torrejon, was completed in Q4 2019 and provides 15,890m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Gold rating. Both properties are already leased under triple net leases to leading tenants including a German automotive component manufacturer, a national kitchen equipment distributor and an international sustainable energy company. They both also have EPC ratings of A.


Both assets boast excellent locations with easy access to the A-2 and R-2 highways, and good connection with the M-50, Madrid’s outermost ring road. A driving distance of just 30 minutes to Madrid’s city centre means the assets are well positioned to accommodate, amongst others, tenants with a last-mile approach. The assets have been delivered to high technical and environmental specifications, and also benefit from the increased penetration of e-commerce in Spain and the lack of grade A logistics properties in the area.


Antonio Roncero, Head of Transactions for Iberia at CBRE Investment Management, said: “This acquisition was a rare opportunity to secure an income-producing grade A logistics portfolio through an off-market process. The Madrid logistics sector is attractive due to the potential growth of occupier demand versus an acute shortage of supply. Despite current economic headwinds, well located, high-quality and sustainable assets such as these are well placed to take advantage of ongoing rental growth in the logistics sector.”


Manuel Ibanez, Head of Real Estate Iberia at DWS, pointed out: “In 2017 at DWS we bet on the logistics sector and structured a forward purchase agreement with ICC, which culminated in the purchase of the two newly developed warehouses in 2019 and 2020. Following the leasing of both assets, we decided to divest, closing the circle of this deal, which will be profitable for our investors and is part of DWS’s value add strategy. We will continue working to find investment opportunities in key locations and strategic sectors such as logistics, residential and offices, strengthening our presence in Spain”.


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