There are still a large number of undeveloped farm steadings in East Lothian and Midlothian, according to East Lothian estate agents Chalmers & Co. Marketing steading development opportunities for housing development is still challenging and site values have fallen because of the issues developers (particularly small and medium sized operators) still face with funding.
However, Chalmers & Co says that farmers and landowners can consider adding value to developable steadings by obtaining planning consent so that they are ready to put them onto the market when the economy recovers.
David Brackenridge, who heads up Chalmers & Co’s Architectural Services team, previously worked as the architect for a leading local developer that specialised in innovative steading conversions such as Mainshill at Morham and Sydserf near North Berwick. David’s team is currently in the process of obtaining planning consent for a steading so that the development opportunity can be put onto the market or developed by the farmer when the market improves (perhaps as a joint venture).
David Brackenridge, answers some of the key questions, on what can be done to add value to a redundant steading.
When is a good time to obtain planning consent for a redundant steading?
“It can easily take a year to two years to obtain planning consent so now is a good time for farmers to consider investing in their redundant farm steadings by getting detailed planning consent which would be valid for 3 years.
“We can also give advice on how to look after the buildings in the short term to protect your assets from falling into disrepair to a point where you cannot develop it. Should you be reroofing or rebuilding part of the steading to ensure you maximise the possible future returns?”
Is it better to sell a steading with planning consent or subject to obtaining consent?
“The advantage of selling a steading with planning consent is that it removes much of the uncertainty in what can otherwise be a complex sale.
“It makes it easier for developers to run their numbers and you are more likely to get a higher price based on a clean offer. It speeds up the sales process dramatically and reduces the potential issues and costs which may result in the sale falling through.”
Is it important to get consent for as many houses as possible?
“It is more important to get the mix of house sizes, gardens, design and other features right for the market than going for the largest overall developable floor area. This encourages developers to pay more for the opportunity because they know that the end product is more marketable.
“Most steadings are suited to developments of a mix of predominantly 2 and 3 bedroom homes with a smaller number of one bedroom and 4 bedroom properties.”
How should the development opportunity be presented to the market?
“Although every development opportunity is different, it makes sense for most development opportunities to be properly packaged up for sale. The main elements might include: full planning permission (and, if necessary, listed building consent); a Section 75 Agreement with identified developer’s contributions to schools and affordable housing; plans for the provision of all mains services; a measured site survey with boundaries marked out; contamination issues dealt with; and landscaping planned for.
“The development opportunity should include a sufficiently generous footprint with ample space for gardens and, ideally, additional amenity ground for landscaping and even paddocks for horses.”
Why should I consider getting professional advice?
“Farm steadings and other rural development opportunities can be complex, so it is worth obtaining professional advice from a firm like Chalmers & Co, which offers all these services under one roof. Advice may be needed on initial site appraisals and valuations, reorganisation of farming business to accommodate development, the potential impact on a farmhouse, planning advice, the construction of replacement agricultural buildings, developing a marketing plan, liaising with developers and negotiating a sale.”
If you have a redundant steading or other rural development opportunity, please contact David Brackenridge on 01620 824000 or email@example.com