Countryside in Shropshire

Increasing the purchase appeal of a farm diversification project

Increasing the purchase appeal of a farm diversification project

The 51 acre Woodland Park Lodges site in Ellesmere, Shropshire has been sold to a family run business, Olympic Park Homes, which already runs two exclusive residential parks - Delamere Grove and Riverside Park in Cheshire. Located on Lions Lane, Woodland Park Lodges comprises 11 timber holiday lodges with separate office and reception building, set within around 51 acres of woodland. The site also has planning permission in place to construct an additional nine lodges.

Farm diversification

Forge’s involvement with the site dates back to 2010. It was initially a farm diversification project, utilising a previously unused area of woodland. Diversification is largely supported through planning policy at a national and local level. Every local authority has its own planning framework but generally rural diversification is actively encouraged. Advising clients on diversification is a specialist area for us and agricultural property provides considerable opportunity.

Planning permission and keeping green

Following our client’s decision to sell the farm and retain the lodge site, we were asked to help with the separation of the site, including securing planning permission for a new access. We also instigated a small solar scheme, whereby a solar developer was granted a lease of land with an agreement to sell electricity back to the lodges. This enables the site to save about 20% on electricity charges and also helps to reinforce its green credentials.

The next stage for us was to secure planning permission for an additional nine lodges to be built, which would lead to a substantial increase in the site’s future turnover, with a relatively modest increase in overheads. Once planning permission was granted, it helped add value to the site and undoubtedly made it an even more attractive proposition for potential buyers. It was sold off a guide price of £1.35 million. We were joint agents in the sale, alongside Colliers International.

This is an excellent example of a successful farm diversification project, which ultimately created an entirely independent and profitable leisure enterprise, which has reported excellent performance in recent years with future bookings confirmed as far forward as 2021. Now that the phasing out of farming subsidies has begun, diversification is undoubtedly the future for many rural businesses.

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