It has been a busy year at 3D Rural and we are delighted to have done a lot of very interesting work for a selection of excellent clients:
Our management of the Soil Association Land Trust’s estate continued with the establishment of basic management systems such as a simple estate terrier, revised budgets and a new repair programme. We have also grappled with dirty water problems to help bring one farm up to a compliant standard and have developed prjects for renewable energy to help bring in new income.
In February we completed a comprehensive assessment of the 5,000 acre Warslow Moors Estate in the Staffordshire Moorlands for the Peak District National Park Authority. This included a review of changes and achievements since its acquisition 25 years before and a complete reassessment of the estate’s assets and natural resources in the context of current land management priorities. Looking forward we considered the challenges and opportunities that might face the estate in the next 25 years. In addition to recommendations for land management, conservation and income generation our report provided a tailor-made set of principles for sustainable land management and a methodology to help devise more meaningful objectives for the upcoming review of the Estate Management Plan.
During the first half of the year we worked with National Trust staff in the High Peak to draw up new tenancy agreements for the moorland grazing and grouse shooting on the High Peak Moors as part of the Trust’s vision for the next 50 years. The new agreements updated old tenancies and leases and were written in plain English. They aimed to set out the Trust’s conservation responsibilities and objectives more clearly in order to enable farming and grouse shooting to continue in ways that safeguard the fundamental peat resource of the moorlands.
In March we completed an initial review of the East Quantoxhead Estate on the North Somerset coast. This carried out the usual structured assessment of resources and assets under the headings of the main functions of land. The estate enjoys heritage relief for Inheritance Tax purposes because of the importance of its landscape, history and environmental designations. The review highlighted the potential to convert a number of agricultural buildings for alternative income generating uses and advocated an estate masterplan approach to the planning process to demonstrate how commercial development of existing buildings can be used to support the ongoing conservation of the estate.
In the spring we carried out a review of the National Trust’s coast and countryside properties on the north coast of Anglesey, drawing together the recommendations of a number of specialist surveys that had already been carried out. The estate extends to nearly 1,200 acres of spectacular countryside, including the Cemlyn Lagoon, a site of international importance for its breeding birds and saline lagoon communities. Most of the land is let with three main farms, four smallholdings and a number of bare land lettings. Income is heavily reliant on agricultural rents, which, given the conservation interest of the property are limited by the need for a low input low output approach. Recommendations included increasing the residential let proportion of the rent roll through conversion of suitable buildings, investment in renewable energy and exploring the potential for income from Corporate Social Responsibility investment in the area.
In the summer we worked with the Woodland Trust to help them weigh up the pros and cons of potentially purchasing a large estate in their North West Region. This included a two-day workshop with key staff to carry out a rapid site appraisal and analysis of objectives. This enabled the Trust to re-examine the suitability of the site in terms of its risks and opportunities and to objectively assess its potential to deliver the organisation’s purpose.
In a similar vein we helped the Rare Breed Survival Trust to consider its future policy and practice for the ownership of farms, in order to help it handle offers of land and to understand how ownership might further its core charitable purposes. As a first stage we scoped out the issues and provided guidance on the potential benefits, the main risks involved and the practicalities of farm ownership to an organisation like the RBST.
More recently we have taken on a project for the Telscombe Town Council to prepare and re-submit an application to the Secretary of State for the fencing of an area of common land, following a refused application last year. The fencing is required to allow conservation grazing of part of the common but has implications for walkers and horse riders. We are advising on the content and format of the management plan for the site and will be consulting with neighbours and users about the proposals. In particular we will liaise with recreational users with a view to drawing up an agreed access plan so that the new application can be submitted with wider support.
3D Rural provided a competitive price analysis and report on the agricultural management and future planning for the Estate. This has been an essential building block to the future strategic management of the property. I only had good feed back from the tenants about their approach and have used 3D for further detailed work on issues.
I found their blend of long term senior experience and new ideas on all aspects of modern environmental estate management refreshing and a pleasure to be involved with.
Chris Manby BSc FRICS FAAV