Summer Journal 2014

Since August 2013 we have seen viewing levels rise significantly and general enquiries through the Rightmove property portal have also increased.

February this year saw phone enquiries triple and email enquiries double compared to a year ago. So far this year we have seen a rise in good quality buyers who are in a position to proceed. These buyers are across the board, we are now seeing movement throughout all of the market which has now also filtered through to the top end.

There hasn’t been a better time to sell for years and with increased stock coming to the market, it is likely to be a good time to buy too. We are well equipped with the finest marketing tools to present your stunning home to the world including outstanding professional photography, floor plans and videoettes. You have spent time and effort in perfecting the presentation of your home – we’ll make it stand out in the increasingly competitive age of digital marketing via the internet.


If you’re a farmer or work in agri-business you will no doubt be aware that the European Union (EU) is undertaking a review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – but do you know how it will affect you?

The review will see the introduction of Single Farm Payment Mark 2 – known as the Basic Payment Scheme – which will make payments to farmers based on their entitlements in much the same way as their existing scheme and will be based on a flat rate payment.

The new scheme also introduces a ‘greening’ element whereby 30% of the national funds available under direct payments will be dedicated to schemes which benefit the environment.

It will also provide additional support of up to 25% for the young farmers (under the age of 40) to encourage ‘generation renewal’ which will provide great opportunity for farming businesses.

The entitlements you currently hold will convert from Single Farm Payment Entitlements to Basic Payment Scheme Entitlements on the January 1 2015. You will be able to use them in that scheme year provided you have enough area to support them.

However, if you have more entitlements that you do land in the 2015 claim year, you will lose the excess. Going forward, the entitlements must be activated at least once every two years but rotating entitlements from year to year will not be permitted.


This is the hot potato in relation to the Basic Payment Scheme and will have two parts – business activity and agricultural activity. There will be certain criteria which will determine an active farmer and further information will become available on this later in the year.


Up to 30% of the monies available for direct payments will be allocated to farmers meeting the three greening rules:

1. Crop Diversification – this is applicable where more than 10 ha of land are grown. Between 10 – 30 ha two crops types must be grown. 30 ha and above, three crop types.

2. Permanent Grassland – the percentage of permanent grassland compared to the agricultural area must not fall by more than 5%.

3. Ecological Focus Areas – where arable land is more than 15 ha, applicants must manage at least 5% of their arable area as an EFA.

For further information on the Basic Payment Scheme and ensure your business is prepared for the changes, please call Richard Furnival, James Fish or Emma Hodkinson at our Garstang Office.


The UK’s constantly changing planning policy means that land use remains exceptionally fluid and opportunities still exist for affordable housing schemes (also known as rural exception sites) upon land that may ordinarily not be suitable for standard market value housing. These sites are essential for villages and on the edge of market towns because these communities struggle to remain sustainable due to houses that are too expensive. Lower value properties are essential for both the young and the old to be able to stay in the community as well as bringing in necessary key workers. Land values are still exceptionally high compared with agriculture and sites will tend to have the following attributes:

  •  1-2 acres or thereabouts 
  • Road frontage and abutting the settlement boundary 
  • The village needs some services and transport links

If you have a site that you feel may be of interest please send them by email in the first instance to with the heading Rural Exceptions Site. Alternatively get in touch with your main contact at AB.


In April this year Planning Minister Nick Boles announced the introduction of the amended permitted development rights – an order which confirmed a number of points for farmers and landowners hoping to achieve planning permission in the near future.


  • The change of use of an existing agricultural building and land within the curtilage could see up to three dwellings as part of permitted development 
  • The total maximum area of the buildings which can be converted is 450m2, whether that is one house or the maximum of three 
  • The footprint of the completed development must not go outside the footprint of the original building

Can all agricultural buildings be converted?

You don’t necessarily have to be an active farmer to take advantage of these new rules, but the building must clearly have been in agricultural use as of 20 March, 2013 to qualify. If the building has not been part of a working farm for more than twelve months, it will not qualify under the new rules.

How do we do it?

In theory owners of the buildings will not need full planning permission, which means that the conversion process should be quicker, easier and potentially cheaper. However, you will still need to gain ‘approval’ from the council before you can start to convert or demolish the buildings.

Can local planner’s stop us converting an agricultural building into a house?

An application for prior approval will need to be made to assess whether there will be any significant impact on the local area such as highways, use, noise, contamination, flood risk, visual impact, siting or location. This must be sought and approved before any works start. The council will also require prior approval for alterations to the external appearance. If the council thinks the visual alterations will cause significant impact then they can insist on a full planning application.

Can agricultural buildings anywhere be converted?

These new rights will not apply to land in National Parks, Conservation Areas or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as Trough of Bowland and Lake District. It does not mean planning will automatically be refused in these areas, it simply means a full application will be required first. However Minister Nick Boles stressed in his report: “The government expects National Parks and other planning authorities in protected areas to take a positive and proactive approach to sustainable development, balancing the protection of the landscape with the social and economic wellbeing of the area.”

It will be very interesting to see how the changes impact or offer opportunity to redundant agricultural buildings in these areas. It is very much early days yet and we await feedback from the relevant local planning authorities, but clearly there are plenty of opportunities for owners of agricultural buildings to convert to cash or development projects where until recently the buildings were viewed more of a liability than asset. It is clear that not every building will come under this permitted development, but it is a very significant and positive change for the rural community.


Armitstead Barnett’s growing business success has led to the creation of two new positions at the company. Assistant Surveyor Jack Sharpe joins the South Lancashire office, boosting the team to five, to meet the growing demand for services. Jack a farmer’s son has an in-depth knowledge of agricultural matters. Jack brings to us a wealth of experience having practised with a large scale Agricultural and Commercial Property Company based in the North West.

Partner David Cowburn said: “We’ve seen an impressive growth in the South Lancashire area, due in no little part to our growing reputation as a ‘can do’ business and Jack’s appointment will boost our reputation for meeting the needs of our clients and the quality of our work.” Tracey Whalley has been appointed to a new role within the business. Tracey will be assisting the Partners with the running and managing of the business providing support for the continued expansion and growth of Armitstead Barnett.

Tracey previously worked at a manufacturer of animal nutritional products Partner Richard Furnival said: “Employing a dedicated practice manager is something we’ve considered long and hard. We’ve realised it’s essential to keep pace with our rate of growth and will increase efficiency throughout the entire company by allowing our specialists to focus on what they do best by handing over back office functions to a qualified administrator.”



Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July 2014 Garstang Road (A586)
Great Eccleston (near Preston) PR3 0YP


Saturday 2nd August 2014 The Garstang Showfield,
Off Green Lane East, Garstang, Preston PR3 1JS

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