Renewable energy, tourist attractions and the booming artisan food sector offer landowners in the South West “enormous scope” to diversify and reflect the growing confidence in rural property, a property consultant new to the area has said.
Conolly McCausland made the comments as he joined Bruton Knowles’ new Taunton office, having managed a traditional mixed land-use country estate in Northern Ireland since 1995.
He will be responsible for developing the firm’s rural services throughout South West England covering Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
He explained: “The long awaited lift-off in the wider economy and residential construction sector in particular has provided huge opportunities for landowners to enhance returns from their estates.
“Reform of the agricultural subsidy system in 2015 will also lead to further business restructuring which needs to be planned in advance.”
Mr McCausland intends to spend most of his time out of the office, making full use of his experience in agriculture, property, leisure and forestry sectors.
But his expertise in diversification will mean the most to landowners or farmers looking for alternative revenue streams. And he says that changes to the planning framework have created many more opportunities.
“The National Planning Policy Framework was set up, among other things, to address the current undersupply of housing and the decline of rural communities and part of my role will be helping landowners make best use of the opportunities the planning system is now offering.
“This makes it an exciting time for rural landowners, as with these new opportunities now coming forwards we are seeing a real impact on land and property values.
“These factors mean estate managers have enormous scope to broaden their horizons and diversify into sectors such as leisure or renewable energy, maybe even such diverse projects as artisan food production or caravan parks.”
Mr McCausland, who studied at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, went on: “Traditional estates do not always make the most of their resources and I specialise in helping owners and managers identify the next steps to help maintain and improve their property and business.
“The South West agricultural sector is fighting fit again and I believe this is a good time to be operating in the region’s vibrant property market, which is clearly far stronger than it has been for years.”