Category: Uncategorised

Land and Property Professionals

We sell, rent, manage, survey, plan and advise...what can we do for you?

Bedford: 01234 351000 (Sales, lettings and viewing enquiries)
01234 352201 (Professional services and general enquiries)
Buckingham: 01280 428010

As we move towards the end of 2021, the loss of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments is sadly no longer a future concern; it is very much here. It is a central consideration for budgeting and management decisions being taken now and as such it is more important than ever to ensure that all potential income sources are being utilised.

Going forward it is proposed that part of the BPS loss is to be filled by payments under the much-publicised Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS). ELMS are to be fully implemented by 2024 and, in anticipation of this, DEFRA is keen to introduce elements of the schemes now.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is one of three schemes within ELMS, providing payments at farm level. DEFRA sees this as a tool to allow farmers to have a different perspective over their land, focusing on natural assets and the best means to protect and enhance these. The SFI concentrates on improving biodiversity, tackling climate change and creating a greener landscape.

An initial SFI pilot is in the process of being rolled out, with the application window having closed at the end of September. The key role of this pilot is for participants to ‘test’ the scheme and its components and to be paid for their role within this. Applicants were limited to those receiving BPS payments and not currently in a stewardship scheme. The pilot is set to begin at the start of November 2021 and run for three years.

There are eight standards within the pilot, each subdivided into three ‘ambition’ levels. Payment rates have been set broadly equivalent to Countryside Stewardship, with the payments available reflecting the difference in work required for each level.

The table below provides a summary.

StandardPayment
Introductory  IntermediateAdvanced
Arable and Horticultural Land£28/ha£54/ha£74/ha
Arable and Horticultural Soils£26/ha£41/ha£60/ha
Farm Woodland  £49/ha
Hedgerows  £16/100m£21/100m£24/100m
Improved Grassland  £27/ha£62/ha£97/ha
Improved Grassland Soils£26/ha£44/ha£70/ha
Low and No Input Grassland£22/ha£89/ha£110/ha
Water Body Buffering  £16/100m£29/100m£34/100m

Alongside the pilot, a slimmed-down SFI is to be launched in the spring of 2022. This will be available to recipients of BPS and to be a more basic version of the options available within the pilot and the final ELMS (due in 2024).

This will focus on:

A full outline of payment rates is yet to be provided for the 2022 roll out, although they are expected to be similar to those in the 2021 pilot. It is expected that payments will be equivalent to a 30% uplift compared to similar Countryside Stewardship payments.

The SFI is being developed to allow greater flexibility and choice for the farmer and manager. We have been promised a move away from ‘penalisation’ of mistakes and errors and an openness to moulding the scheme to the individual holding. There will be the potential to add and remove parcels from standards and the ability to choose different levels for each standard. Farmers already in Countryside Stewardship are allowed to apply, however it is important to note that the principle of ‘no double payments’ is being adopted by DEFRA. Therefore, if a parcel is within an existing Countryside Stewardship scheme, it cannot be included in the SFI scheme until the initial scheme ends. Therefore, if you have an option on a parcel under Stewardship, you couldn’t enter the same option on the same parcel for SFI.

We would recommend that farmers and managers begin to consider the suitability of their land for an SFI application now, in order to be well prepared for when the application window opens in the spring of 2022. We would be more than happy to discuss the options available and to help in your application.

Please contact Alice for further assistance.

Jennifer Holbrow, Head of our Residential Lettings department, outlines how we can let your property in six steps.

1.Choosing your letting agent
Once you have decided that you would like to rent out your property, you need to choose the best letting agent that suits your particular requirements. At Robinson & Hall, we have 139 years’ experience letting a wide variety of properties and work hard to get the best possible rental return within the time period allotted.

2. Choosing the right lettings package for your needs
Robinson & Hall offers two packages; fully managed and let only. Our bespoke property management packages are designed to suit your requirements, offering you full support along the way. Fully managed gives you the peace of mind that you can leave everything to us to deal with on your behalf, whilst in the knowledge that your property and tenancy will be fully compliant with all legislations. Let only allows you to have a more “hands-on” approach with the day-to-day running of your rental property.

3. Marketing your property
Robinson & Hall will market your property in order to get maximum exposure by using various advertising platforms. Your property will be advertised on the leading property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, Robinson & Hall’s social media accounts and our own website.

4. Getting your property ready to let
First impressions are very important so it is crucial to ensure the property is as presentable as possible. With our extensive knowledge in the lettings field, we can work with you to ensure that your property meets the requirements for a rental and is appealing to potential tenants.

5. Moving in your new tenant
Prior to your new tenant moving in, Robinson & Hall will ensure:
• your tenant has been properly referenced
• the property is compliant with all essential regulations
• properly signed contracts are in place
• the first month’s rent and deposit has been paid
• the deposit has been protected

6. Completion
Upon completion, keys will be released to the tenant on moving in day. For managed properties, we will provide the tenant with contact details of their dedicated Property Manager.

For more information or to book a no obligation lettings appraisal, please call 01234 35100 or email lettings@robinsonandhall.co.uk

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced a new and final round of funding under the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme, with a budget of £25 million guaranteed. The main aim of the scheme is to provide funding for farmers to purchase new equipment, which should consequently improve the productivity of their farm.

Farmers can apply for grants of between £3,000 to £12,000 to buy “innovative” equipment which will improve technical efficiency, animal health and welfare, resource efficiency or nutrient management. Some examples of the equipment available in this round of the scheme include cattle auto ID shedding gates, fixed sheep handling systems, GPS assisted steering and thermal image cameras. 

Successful claimants under previous rounds of the scheme are still eligible to apply for this round for different items up to the scheme’s limit of £12,000 per farmer. There have been some changes to the specifications of some items included in the scheme and as before, specifications must be adhered to or the claim will be invalid.

There is a Countryside Productivity Small Grant (CPSG) Scheme Round 3 Handbook, which can be accessed here and contains details of equipment that can be purchased under this scheme, as well as the application process.

Round 3 of the scheme opened on 7th October 2020 with a deadline of noon on 4th November 2020. Applications can be submitted online at www.cpsmall.org.uk, with successful applicants receiving an email after the round closes to confirm that they have been approved. It is important not to order or buy any equipment before receiving confirmation that your application has been accepted, or the claim becomes ineligible.

For more information or to find out how our Rural Property & Business department can help you, please contact 01234 352201 or email bedford@robinsonandhall.co.uk

It is fair to say that armed with your title deed, everyone thinks they know where their boundaries are. But do you completely understand all the information on your title plan and is it accurate?

Title Plans can be misleading

Usually the red edging on a title plan is a good guide of ownership. However, you cannot always rely that the lines drawn on the plans are an accurate representation of the boundaries of the land involved. Many people are not familiar with the ‘general boundaries rule’ and are surprised as to the levels of inaccuracy a title plan can highlight.

Common issues that arise with Title Plans

How can we help?

No one likes to be embroiled in a boundary dispute. They can be extremely time consuming, costly and lead to an irreversible falling out with the neighbour. We regularly deal with boundary disputes and see how relatively small matters can easily spiral into heated arguments where neither party wishes to back down.

We always advocate good communication between neighbours to try and resolve disputes swiftly and amicably. However, if communication has broken down, we often find that a good starting point is to survey and prepare a plan of the features which currently exist on site.

If you would like more information or advice on your property boundaries, please call Robert.

Rightmove’s Residential Sales House Price Index reports the busiest month for ten years, with the highest number of sales agreed in a month up by 20% on the previous high. But how does this compare to the lettings industry?

Jennifer Holbrow, Head of Residential Lettings, reports:

“We have seen a 93% increase in letting applicants since April 2020 which proves that there is huge demand, and potential tenants aren’t put off with the rules and regulations in place when viewing properties. This has resulted in us letting our properties quickly.

Despite there being large numbers of houses on the market for sale, we have seen some new instructions for houses to let recently. We tend to also take on the ongoing management of these properties as landlords don’t want the hassle of sorting out the increasing rules and regulations themselves. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK Residential Market Survey reports a 6% increase in landlord instructions nationally compared to the last quarter, so let’s hope instructions continue to improve as the year progresses.

Supply, however, does not meet demand, which ultimately pushes rental prices up as tenants are in competition to secure their perfect property. The HomeLet Rental Index in August 2020 shows that the average rental price for a new tenancy in the UK was £985 per calendar month, which is up by 1.5% on last year.

In our area (Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire), three bedroom properties seem to be the most popular at the moment and we are seeing rental prices averaging at £975 per calendar month. We are expecting to see a 2.5% rise in rent over the next 12 months.

Tenants who are moving are expecting higher standards of accommodation and those who are finding their ideal property are staying put for an average of eight years.

I am confident the lettings market will continue to pick up. One thing is for sure is that there is demand so if you are considering letting out your property, now is the time!”

If you would like more information or to book a no obligation free lettings appraisal, please call 01234 351000 or email lettings@robinsonandhall.co.uk

Jennifer Holbrow, Head of Residential Lettings at Robinson & Hall, has achieved the Level 3 Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.

ARLA Propertymark is the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents. It aims to promote better regulation and higher practice standards in the UK private rented sector.

Jennifer Holbrow of Robinson & Hall comments: “It was important for me to secure this recognised qualification to increase my credentials as a letting agent. It is not only a personal achievement but also a mark of professionalism and trust.  It provides reassurance to landlords and tenants dealing with Robinson & Hall that we adhere to the highest professional standards.”

Jennifer Holbrow is among a growing number of agents across the UK working with ARLA Propertymark and Propertymark Qualifications to raise standards within the industry.

Melfyn Williams, Chair of the Governing Body, adds: “The Propertymark Qualifications Level 3 Award is a regulated qualification ideal for candidates wanting to improve existing knowledge in the key areas related to residential letting and property management. Propertymark Qualifications is committed to raising standards within the residential letting and property management sector through the provision of accredited, nationally recognised qualifications, such as the Award Robinson & Hall has achieved.”

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive, comments: “I congratulate Jennifer Holbrow on her achievement of the Level 3 qualification”.

ARLA Propertymark strives for better regulation in the private rented sector. With the support of letting agents across the UK recognising the need for higher standards and integrity in the sector, gaining a qualification with Propertymark Qualifications counts as a real stamp of professionalism and supports the drive for better practice within the industry.

David Jones, Head of Agency at Robinson & Hall, concludes: “Congratulations Jennifer! This is a fantastic achievement and credit to your hard work and dedication.”

For more information or to find out about how Robinson & Hall can help you, please call 01234 351000.

The Government’s long-awaited ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper has been published. It proposes some fundamental changes to the planning system in England.

Andrew Barr, Head of Planning & Development, details the potential changes. The White Paper is out for consultation until 29th October 2020.

What changes are taking place?

The zoning system would see all land divided into three separate zones:

1. Growth: land lying within this category would have outline planning approval and would also apply to large scale development including new settlements.

2. Renewal: land in this area would be categorised as suitable for development and would apply to smaller scale developments, rural areas (but edge of settlement) and infill sites.

3. Protected: this would relate to sites and areas such as Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, local wildlife sites, etc which, due to their sensitivity, any development proposals would be subject to more stringent planning controls. It is envisaged that open countryside would also fall in this category, so the implication is that planning constraints would be no different from the current position, where there is a general presumption against residential development in the open countryside.

It has been suggested to:

As always caution should be exercised in interpreting announcements which claim to tear up the current planning system and allow development to occur without the need for planning applications. Our view is that whilst a zoning system (popular in many other countries) would have its merits in clarifying what development may be allowed in particular areas, these proposals are certainly not a developer’s charter.

The Government mantra to ‘build, build, build’ is definitely helpful in demonstrating a positive direction of travel, notably to try and achieve its 300,000 new homes per annum target. The extent of the fundamental system changes remains to be seen once the proposals emerge from the consultation process. We will be monitoring the proposals and will provide further updates in due course.

If you have any queries in the meantime or would like help with your planning projects, please contact a member of staff from our Planning & Development department.

It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our friend and long standing former Senior Partner, Michael Robinson.

Michael was the 4th generation of the Robinson family to join the family firm of Robinson & Hall working there from the early 1960’s. In the 40 years that he worked in the Land Agency team, he dealt with a large variety of land agency and estate management projects, building lifelong friendships with many clients. He was Senior Partner for over 20 years up until the time of his retirement.

He was admired by many and involved with a number of professional organisations, including the Herts, Beds and Bucks Agricultural Valuers Association and the Bedford Surveyors 1921 Club where he was a member for 46 years. He was also an Arbitrator on the Lord Chancellor’s panel.

Michael retired from Robinson & Hall 20 years ago but remained a good friend of the firm and would often drop in with one of his beloved Labradors. Michael was a keen fly fisherman tying his own flies in an attempt to lure both trout and salmon. In his younger days he was a talented cricketer, turning to golf in later life. He was also a first class pianist, never resisting the chance to play.

He will be missed by all that knew him.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family.

The Partners and staff of Robinson & Hall 

Charles Lovell, Head of Auction House Robinson & Hall, answers the most common questions we get asked by prospective sellers when deciding whether to sell their land or property by auction.

Why sell at auction?

Mention auction to many sellers and they will react with a predictable view:

Yet buyers having seen a property that excites them will often:

How much is my land or property worth?

The truth is often we sell for a similar amount to an estate agent, we just do it a lot faster (instruction to exchange can be as little as 4 weeks).

Auction adheres to the principle that a property is worth what a buyer is prepared to pay, not what a seller thinks it is worth, BUT a buyer will always pay more when in competition with other buyers which can significantly exceed a sellers own ‘valuation’.

A low starting point creates competition and competition instils confidence. Buyers are forced to think about the most they will pay, not how much they can get off the asking price and all buyers are brought together in a timely manner and everyone has a fair chance. A skilful auctioneer can yield substantially better results with no opportunity to re-negotiate or withdraw as happens so often with sales through an estate agent.

What sells well at auction?

Any kind of property can be sold at auction, from hovels to mansions and bare land to vast warehouses but some types work better than others. Generally, a good condition family home will sell better through an estate agent but where buyers can see they can add value or there are acceptable rental returns, auction can be much more successful.

The following sell well:

Advantages of auction to sellers and buyers:

1.    Speed – Being responsible for an empty property can be stressful, it may be vulnerable to break-ins, to deterioration, may be un-insured and all the time costing money. Selling at auction could see instruction to completion in as little as 6 weeks and for buyers, viewing to completion in as little as 3 weeks.

2.    Certainty of sale – If we do not think we can sell a property we will not accept instructions in the first place. Those we do, we sell 94% of. For a buyer, an accepted offer is a simultaneous exchange of contracts – no chance of a seller changing their mind.

3.    Best price – Any property that is unique should be sold at auction as without comparable sales how can it be valued? A sale at auction would also suit a property where the seller is required to show that ‘best value’ is achieved such as an executor to a will.

4.    High profile marketing – Our catalogue is received by over 4,000 buyers and we feature each property on all the main portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location.

5.    Regional – We inspect every property we offer for sale and offer local knowledge to both buyers and sellers.

6.    Straightforward – Conveyancing solicitors can be prone to making big issues out of small ones which can drag on and on. We simply get on with the job, fast and efficiently.

7.    Transparent – We aim to disclose any issues up front and our legal packs contain the relevant details, so buyers know what they are offering on before making an offer.

8.    Open bidding – Buyers can see what the other bids are so can bid with piece of mind that if they are the winning bidder, they will have paid just enough to win the property.

How are auctions carried out currently?

Due to current times our auctions are live streamed online. We held three in May and June and sold 100% of lots. Our next auction is being held on 8th October at 2.30pm. The deadline to enter a lot is 11th September 2020 so do not delay.

Adhering to strict Government guidelines, we will:

Our live streamed auctions have worked well so far and we are thrilled with the results. We have sold 94% of lots offered.

If you would like to find out if your land or property is suitable for auction, please call 01234 362899.

Robinson & Hall are delighted to announce that they have welcomed four new starters recently, three in Residential Lettings and one in their Planning & Development department.

Jennifer Holbrow (far right) is the new Head of Residential Lettings. Jennifer joined in April 2020 bringing a wealth of experience with her. She has delivered and maintained a very sizeable and diverse portfolio of properties, along with growing and managing a successful team.

Jennifer believes constant communication with clients is the key to providing the highest level of service, and has an approachable, yet professional attitude.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family and planning her next city break adventure.

Samantha Hall (far left) is our new Residential Lettings Manager. She joined us in March 2020 and has over 17 years’ experience in the lettings industry.

Since joining Robinson & Hall Samantha has been building relationships with many of our existing landlords, dealing with the day to day running of the office, implementing new ideas, with a view to improving and growing the strong team she has been given the opportunity to become part of.

In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and her partner. She enjoys sun filled holidays, reading, movies and every girls favourite past time, a spot of shopping with her daughter.

Georgie Fuller (second from right) is our new Residential Lettings Assistant. She joined in June 2020 and has vast experience working for both corporate and independent companies, managing a diverse portfolio of properties.

Whether Georgie is carrying out viewings, dealing with move ins, maintenance, or deposits; she has the knowledge and professionalism to make your experience with Robinson & Hall unforgettable.

Outside of work, Georgie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and loves finding new places to explore.

Lastly, Shannon Hubbard joins our Planning & Development team as Assistant Planner. Shannon has a degree in Rural Property Management and has spent the past three years working as a Graduate Planner in Cambridge, dealing with a large variety of planning applications and appeals.

She obtained her Associate Membership to the RTPI in February 2020 and is currently studying towards her APC submission to become a Chartered Member of the RTPI.  

In her spare time, Shannon is a local Young Farmers Chairman and keen member, and enjoys travelling to new destinations, gardening and growing her own vegetables, as well as experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen for her family and friends.

Andrew Capel, Senior Partner at Robinson & Hall comments “We are pleased to have recently recruited four new starters to ensure that we can continue to deliver a first class professional service, providing the best possible advice.”

For more information or to find out how Robinson & Hall can help you, please call 01234 352201.