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Six essential steps to consider before buying a farm in the country

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Sarah Beeny has moved her family lock, stock, and barrel out of London onto a farm in the countryside.

She is building a new house on the 220 acres of farmland that she bought on the outskirts of the fashionable village of Bruton in Somerset.

Her journey is being shown on Channel 4’s Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country.

For some, it might be a pipe dream to make a similar move and gain more outdoor space – but it is likely to require a chunky budget and it’s not for the fainthearted.

Thenford Grounds Farm in Banbury, Oxfordshire, includes a five-bed house and land - and is for sale via estate agents Strutt & Parker for £1,625,000

Thenford Grounds Farm in Banbury, Oxfordshire, includes a five-bed house and land – and is for sale via estate agents Strutt & Parker for £1,625,000

If you have deep pockets and want to know more about buying your own farm in the country, there are some key issues that you need to consider beforehand.

We asked estate agents Savills about what buyers need to ask before they make a farmland purchase.

Alex Lawson, director of Savills farms and estates, said: ‘There are definitely two sides to purchasing a small farm or estate.

‘There is the fresh air, privacy, space for the family, home grown produce and the potential to generate income.

‘But these need to weighed up against the constantly moving parts that will be handed on from one owner to the next such as employees, farming operations, livestock welfare, rent collection and bill payments. It’s more like buying a business than a property.’ 

A small farm or estate may seem to offers a perfect escape from it all, with peace, views, history and a feeling of being part of a traditional community being perhaps the most appealing elements.

But realistically, the day-to-day complexities of buying a rural property can become rather overwhelming.

Escape to the country? Boulder House in Aberdeenshire is for sale for offers over £1.9million via estate agents Savills

Escape to the country? Boulder House in Aberdeenshire is for sale for offers over £1.9million via estate agents Savills

Six tips for buying a farm or country estate

1. Checking the name of the property for clues

Much can be gleaned from a property’s address. These include ‘watery’ connotations, which usually mean there is plenty of it about, so it’s worth checking the area’s flood records area.

By the same token, ‘hollow’ often implies a property is in a dip and may well be shrouded in darkness for much of the day.

2. How is the land currently managed?

It is worth finding out how the land is managed – for example, is it let to a neighbour who grazes livestock on it?

It is worth finding out for how long any agreement is in place – in case you would like to take back the land in the future.

Also, check whether or not any sporting rights are part of the sale as it is perfectly possible for them to be let separately or kept out of a sale.

And where the property adjoins another, what are the obligations for maintaining the boundaries, are they shared? 

It is worth taking a look at the existing fencing or hedgerows as their condition will potentially tell you a lot more about where the responsibilities lie than the neighbour.

3. What are the access rights?

Another question to clarify is whether there any paths or old access rights to retained land or buildings.

You may wake up on the first Sunday morning after moving in to find the local ramblers hiking across the meadow in front of your house. 

Is the driveway to the property shared and if so who has responsibility for its maintenance?

Skelton Farm, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is for sale for £1,275,000 via estate agents SAvills for £1,275,000

Skelton Farm, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is for sale for £1,275,000 via estate agents SAvills for £1,275,000

4. Vary viewing times to check the environment

The countryside is peaceful, most of the time. But if you like a property enough to view it more than once, why not time a visit to coincide with the school run to see how busy the roads are or visit at night to see whether there is any significant light pollution.

Remember to check with the local planning authority for any future developments that might affect your future enjoyment of the property as a new housing scheme or wind farm might be on the horizon.

5. How much will the upkeep and running costs be?

Historic property is often listed and can require additional planning permissions and other consents in order to undertake repairs.

Look closely too at the heating system if it is Victorian as it might be time to replace it – something that prove costly to update. And check you are not required to supply water to the whole village.

You will also need to consider how much it costs to run the farm, including any required employees, farming operations, and livestock welfare. 

6. And finally… keep score!

Score the individual elements during your viewing including the house, the land, location and price of a property on the way round.

By giving each component part a score out of 10 it will become clear which aspects are of most importance and those worthy of compromise. Any property that scores over the 35 out of 40 mark could be considered close to perfection.

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Hotel Indigo debuts in Austria

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Hotel Indigo opened its first hotel in Austria, Hotel Indigo Vienna – Naschmarkt. Located a short walk from the city’s historic center, the hotel offers 158 guest rooms, a rooftop garden resembling an urban jungle, a restaurant, and a lobby bar.

 

Taking inspiration from a famed local architect, Otto Wagner, a key member of the Secessionist movement, guests will find touches of gold used throughout the fixtures in the bathrooms as well as intricate patterns, made famous by Otto, woven into the carpet design in the hallway, and the tiles behind reception. Otto’s love for gold, Art Nouveau design, and ornate patterns can also be seen at famous local buildings such as the Majolikahaus, a short walk from the hotel. From ground level, the building looks innocuous, but as guests look skywards, they will see the top floors are decorated with exquisitely sumptuous floral motifs in brightly colored porcelain and gold leaf, a hallmark of the new style.

 

Stefanie Augustin, General Manager, Hotel Indigo Vienna – Naschmarkt, commented: “We are pleased to open our doors and accept our first guests into the first Hotel Indigo in Austria. We sit in the heart of the surrounding neighbourhood and strive to make all the locals proud, by helping to bring a bit of that external story in so guests can truly experience what Vienna has to offer.”

 

 

 

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Tolent secures Newcastle resi project (GB)

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Tolent will put up 135 ‘ultra-modern’ system-build homes, with designs selected from an architectural competition. Sunderland’s new Vaux neighborhood, being built on the site of an old brewery, will eventually have 1,000 homes, according to the plans, as part of a drive to double the number of people living in the city centre. The homes will stand alongside The Beam and City Hall – the latest development to rise from the ground at Riverside Sunderland. Construction work on the scheme is expected to start within weeks, forming the first of the new distinct neighbourhoods that will create city centre housing for up to 2,500 residents.

 

The properties are based on the winning designs in the Homes of 2030 competition, which was launched in March 2020, and managed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, to encourage the design of environmentally-friendly homes that support people in leading independent, fulfilling lives as society ages.? Construction work on the development is due to start this summer and the first tranche of homes should be completed by the end of 2023.

 

Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have taken this final step to get work started on our flagship residential scheme at Riverside Sunderland. The housing developments on Riverside Sunderland will be world-class, and Tolent is an ideal partner to deliver them, based locally and capable of building these aspirational homes.”

 

Tolent chief executive Paul Webster said: “Vaux neighbourhood is an amazing project that showcases the strides being taken in Sunderland to modernise the city centre. The world-class houses being built will provide a community fit for the future and an archetype for sustainable housing. As a truly local business, we are proud to be involved in the project and to showcase our ability to meet and exceed the capabilities of national contractors on a local level. The project will complement a number of local landmarks that we have constructed including The Beam, Beacon of Light and Echo Building. We have been working closely with the entire team since being appointed preferred bidder back in September and we can’t wait to get started.”

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BlackRock acquires Dagenham urban logistics development (GB)

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A joint venture (JV) between Chancerygatea fund managed by Credit Suisse Asset Management, and Hines has forward sold a 172,000ft² urban logistics development in Dagenham to a fund managed by BlackRock for an undisclosed sum. Dagenham Council has approved plans to speculatively build 15 Grade A urban logistics and industrial units at the development which is called Zephyr Park. The units range from 5,490ft² to 34,670ft² and are available leasehold and freehold. Construction is due to commence in August this year. The six-acre site was previously owned by wholesale electrical distributor Rexel UKSituated on Rainham Road between the A12 and A13, Zephyr Park is located less than half a mile from Hackman Capital Partners and Dagenham Council’s proposed €348.5m (£300m) film and TV studios.

 

Chancerygate managing director, Richard Bains, said: “Zephyr Park will be an outstanding urban logistics development which will generate continued investment and job creation for Dagenham. Forward selling Zephyr Park to BlackRock shows the strength in urban logistics as an asset class. It is also a testament to the high specification, a sustainable product we build as it attracts businesses to locate to our developments ensuring they are best placed to continue to grow. We look forward to working with Hines and BlackRock to deliver Zephyr Park and expect to achieve practical completion in summer 2023.”

 

Greg Cooper, Hines managing director, industrial and logistics, added: “We are pleased to have executed this opportunity to recycle this asset, with the value generated illustrating the unabating demand for high-quality logistics developments. It is an asset class which remains a key focus for Hines in the UK, and we are continuing to explore opportunities to grow our portfolio of both big box and urban facilities.”

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