Introducing ‘Blight’ – Planning Blight and Compulsory Purchase

28 April, 2015

I have made four presentations on the topic of planning blight and compulsory purchase.  These are primarily for the land management students at Harper Adams University, but they may be of interest to a wider audience.  The first video describes statutory blight, and deals with the types of owner and property which qualify for blight protection under the Planning Acts.  The second video deals with the procedures for the successful service of a blight notice up to and including a reference to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).  Video Three addresses the specific and special requirements for blight notices on farmland and the final video in the series reviews discretionary blight, while also picking up some of the advance purchase and compensation schemes which have been initiated by HS2.

Happy Viewing!

Is your mobile phone ready for an emergency? 999=112

10 April, 2015

We are all familiar with ‘999’ as the emergency number in the UK.  112 does the same job and works in other parts of the world as well.

The video below is full of helpful information about how to make the most of a mobile ‘phone in areas where the signal is weak or virtually non-existent.  Key points:

  • 112 or 999 will try to get through on any available carrier, not just your own service;
  • You can normally make a 112 or 999 call from a locked mobile ‘phone.  So even if your own ‘phone is out of action you should be able to use a colleague’s or passer-by’s phone without knowing their security code.
  • Finally a text might be able to get through when the signal is not strong enough to make a call.  But for this to work you need to register your phone first.  This is easily done by:
  1. Text the word ‘register’ to 112 (or 999)
  2. Wait for a reply which tells you to text the word ‘yes’ to 999

You then receive a text to acknowledge your registration and that’s it!  Once registered you can text details of an emergency to 112 or 999.  The text needs to say which service is required, describe the emergency briefly and give as precise details as possible of the location – including any local landmarks which might help.  A ‘phone call will always be better, but if a call can’t get through a simple text could prove to be a life-saver in a remote rural location.

More details about Registration at this link to the emergency SMS website.

This video by Lyle Brotherton contains some very helpful advice about how to use a mobile ‘phone to best advantage in a remote emergency.  It’s worth adding that there are a few apps which can also be used to give your location on a smartphone, like OS Locate which will give your six-figure (100 metre) grid reference.

Business tools for the rural estate: long and medium term planning

7 April, 2015

What business tools or techniques do we use on rural estates?  Does it all boil down to annual budgeting, assessing performance against projections, capital project planning, the occasional tax review?  Or is there more to it than that?  Strategic environmental analysis perhaps?  Simple SWOT analyses?  Sophisticated investment appraisal using DCF?  Stakeholder analysis?  Cost benefit analysis?  Multi-criteria decision analysis?

Over the next few months I will be researching this question for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors/Royal Agricultural University 100 Club Fellowship.  Please help me by nominating your preferred strategic management tools for the rural estate.  A survey will also be launched soon.  The results are due to be presented at this year’s RICS Rural Conference, Land – delivering on all fronts on 18 June 2015.

So  please do help us to get off to a good start by sharing your experience of planning, marketing and decision-making techniques and tools on the rural estate through the comments box below – or if you would rather do so privately please use the ‘contact’ tab to send me a message.  I look forward to hearing from you.

£1 million party to celebrate Agincourt: Don’t take the budget too seriously

18 March, 2015

A few headline points for the rural economy from today’s budget, to add to the mainstream reporting:

  1. Deeds of variation for Inheritance Tax: a consultation is to report by Autumn.  It is therefore important to pursue any deeds of variation which may be needed straightaway, and to review wills to ensure that deeds of variation will not be required.  Their days may now be numbered.
  2. No more tax returns: sounds good, but will digital tax accounts be any better?
  3. Annual Investment Allowance.  It won’t come down from £500,000 to £25,000 after December this year.  We will be told in the Autumn statement what the new rate will be.  This timing is more appropriate, says Osborne.  Two months’ notice?  More appropriate? So much for a long term view on business investment needs.
  4. Compulsory Purchase Reform/Review: consultation now issued, responses by June this year.  First impression: more tinkering, much like the story of piecemeal reforms since the Land Compensation Act 1973.  Key points seem to include earlier payment of compensation (ahead of entry); better compensation; more encouragement to pay ‘over the odds’ to avoid other problems in the acquisition process; reconsideration of the ‘material detriment’ provisions.  There doesn’t seem to be much on blight, either statutory or discretionary and more generally on the interests of property owners and occupiers who lose no land but whose interests are badly affected by public development.
  5. Local Enterprise Partnerships and Forestry: who will LEPS be forced to marry next at the muzzle of a shotgun?  £1 million for for forestry schemes which are brought forward with LEP support – not one to hold your breath for.
  6. Rural broadband (an interesting concept): a universal service obligation of 5 Mbps everywhere may facilitate satellite access.  Details are far from clear, but vital to the successful delivery of this.
  7. Farmers’ profit averaging: the averaging period extended from two years to five year with effect from April 2016.  How will this work?  We don’t know yet: consultation is to follow.
  8. Flood Defence Relief: for expenditure against Income Tax or Corporation Tax – an interesting possibility to consider in the context of the development of ecosystem services.  For example Farmer A will manage his riverside fields to accept surplus water in order to protect Manufacturer B’s factory.  Will B be able to get tax relief for the money he pays to Farmer A for this purpose?
  9. Subletting within residential tenancies: needs thinking through but apparently tenants may be able to override restrictions in their leases.  Form an orderly queue ….
  10. CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief: various loose ends to be tightened up.  An ideal headline for scaremongering but unlikely to be of concern to ‘genuine’ cases.

How seriously should we take all this?  Paddy Power are offering the following odds on the next government:

  • Labour minority 3/11
  • Conservative minority 7/2
  • Conservative majority 9/2
  • Labour SNP Coalition, and Conservative Lib Dem coalition 5/1

Whoever wins there will be another budget early in the new Parliament.  That’s really the one to watch for rather than today’s dying embers.  Let’s hope the big Agincourt party survives the general election – never mind the charisma of Henry IV’s speech (as Shakespeare would have it anyway) but do remember the skill and discipline of the English and Welsh archers.  Could this be George Osborne’s silent blow against UKIP?

Trustees: Need to know 10 – the value of professional trustees

14 March, 2015

The last item on our list of 10 vital facts for the estate trustee concerns the value of professional trustees.  A professional trustee owes a professional duty of care in exactly the same way as to a client, and will have to be paid for his or her advice in most cases.  Amendments to trustee legislation allow payments to a professional trustee despite the general rule that trustees should not benefit personally from their role.  The professional involvement of a professional trustee should ensure that the trust will receive close professional attention and supervision.  It seems inevitable that there will be a continued growth in the use and deployment of professional trustees in view of the onerous responsibilities associated with the work of a trustee.

This will be one of the topics reviewed in more depth during the forthcoming Trustee Training Events at Rhug estate and Ragley Hall, organised in conjunction with the CLA. For more details:

Trust Programme Spring 2015


As previously advised the event at Ragley Hall on 21 April is full.  We are now therefore offering a SECOND DAY at Ragley on 22 April – please use the contact form or follow the details in the link above to register your interest for 22 April.


The event at Ragley Hall on 21 April is now FULL.  There are still places at Rhug for Tuesday 17 March.  We are also keeping a reserve list for Ragley in case anybody drops out, and with a view to arranging another day if there is enough interest – so do get in touch if you would like to register for this option, arrange an in-house session or host an event in another area.

This is the last of 10 brief ‘Need to Know’ notes for trustees and their professional advisers.  I hope you have found them useful.  For more information and an opportunity to meet others involved in the work of trustees do book in for one or other of the forthcoming trustee training days at Rhug and Ragley.

Trustees: Need to Know 9 – Fiduciary Duties

13 March, 2015

Number nine on our list is the fiduciary duty of a trustee.  This duty is absolute and imposes a number of important obligations on the trustee.  These include duties to act in good faith, not to profit personally from the role, to avoid conflicts of interest, to account to the beneficiaries and a number of others.  In addition the Trustee Act 2000 imposes further duties regarding investment.

This will be one of the topics reviewed in more depth during the forthcoming Trustee Training Events at Rhug estate and Ragley Hall, organised in conjunction with the CLA. For more details:

Trust Programme Spring 2015


We have now organised a second day at Ragley Hall to take place on 22 April 2015 – please use the contact form or the link above to reserve a place.  Places seem likely to go quickly in view of the demand we have experienced so far.


The Trustee Training Day at Ragley Hall now has only one or two places left.  There are still places for the day at Rhug Estate on 17 March.  I am keeping a reserve list for the Ragley event in case of any drop-outs, or with a view to arranging a further day if there is enough interest.

This is the ninth of 10 brief ‘Need to Know’ notes for trustees and their professional advisers.

Trustees: Need to Know 8 – trustee powers to delegate

12 March, 2015

Number eight on our list of trustee ‘need to know’ is the limited powers available to trustees to delegate their responsibilities and powers.  These vary between the collective delegation of authority by all the trustees and the power of an individual trustee to delegate.  The individual trustee can delegate his or her authority through a power of attorney, but there are limitations.  It must be renewed every year, the trustee remains liable for the actions of the attorney and all the other trustees must be notified promptly.

This will be one of the topics reviewed in more depth during the forthcoming Trustee Training Events at Rhug estate and Ragley Hall, organised in conjunction with the CLA. For more details:

Trust Programme Spring 2015

This is the eighth of 10 brief ‘Need to Know’ notes for trustees and their professional advisers.


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