Buying The Kennel Club’s First Estate

Buying and running a country estate for the first time can be a daunting prospect, so the Kennel Club turned to The Buying Solution for help.

Think of the Kennel Club and Crufts, the organisation’s world-famous showpiece of canine obedience and breeding, will immediately spring to mind for many. One thing it lacked, however, was somewhere that it could dedicate to training and trialling the working breeds that are such an important part of country sports.

“There is limited ground for the expansion of the rapidly growing sport of gundog field trials and training days in the UK that allow gundogs to do what they are bred for– working with live game,” says Paddy Ledingham, the Kennel Club’s Head of Property.

The sale and relocation of the club’s London headquarters gave it the financial wherewithal to think about filling the gap itself, but finding somewhere that possessed all the attributes needed was never going to be simple.

“We wanted somewhere that had at least 1,000 acres of land, the potential to develop a shoot with accommodation for a gamekeeper, but no large house that would make the price prohibitively expensive. It also needed to be relatively convenient for competitors to get to, yet tucked away,” explains Mr Ledingham.

Recognising the scale of the task, the club engaged The Buying Solution to help. “It was a very unusual and challenging brief,” agrees Mark Lawson. “We scoured the open market and found nothing that was suitable, but remembered a property called Emblehope, near Hexham in Northumberland, that had been available previously. We approached the owners and purchased it off-market.”

Its 7,500 acres of bog and grazing land were ideal but there was still a stumbling block that had to be overcome before the deal could go through: the estate is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England and permission would be needed for the Kennel Club to implement its plans.

To make this happen, Edward Dixon of Knight Frank’s Rural Consultancy department was engaged to work with Natural England to create a management plan for the estate that would provide the organisation with the assurances it needed.

“Having worked with Natural England in the past, our established relationship meant we were able to balance the important conservation requirements of the SSSI with the practicalities of running a commercial enterprise and farm,” says Edward.

After the 25-year agreement was struck with Natural England, the Kennel Club became the proud new owner of The Emblehope & Burngrange Estate in March 2016. “We hope the estate will become a centre of excellence for working dogs. There are endless possibilities to conduct gundog field trials and training days, working trials, bloodhound trials and working tests. We have already held our first Bloodhound Club championship trials there,” says Mr Ledingham.

Millennial buyers in London

Young professionals of today are having to search harder than any previous generation to find value for money when buying their first home in London. Securing that healthy balance between an area that you would actually like to live in and a flat that you can afford has never been so challenging.

The so-called “Bank of Mum & Dad” is still the biggest lender among this demographic, known as the Millennials or Generation Y, who were born between 1980 and 2000. However, that source of funding can only stretch so far: it’s not a limitless pot. As prices increase, for all except the very fortunate, it doesn’t necessarily follow that parents are prepared to keep digging deeper in order to bridge the gap.

As a result of the increased demand for value across wider London, areas such as Brixton and Tooting are now up and coming; not so long ago they were almost no-go zones. Places which were traditionally less gentrified and safe are now hip and trendy hot spots for millennials to hang out. It’s easy to understand how quickly these places can change with the influx of so many younger people spending time (and money) locally. They need to evolve and offer the variety of shops, cafes, bars, restaurants which meet the demands of this new clientele. A new restaurant offering opens up every week in Tooting, I hear on the grapevine.

With fantastic mortgage products on the market and record low rates, it still makes sense to buy if you can. Not only is it cheaper in the end than renting but it saves you paying someone else’s mortgage, rather pay your own. Issues, however, remain with the deposits which tend to be demanding: between 20% and 40% of the overall value of the property is typically required by the banks and lenders to secure the best mortgage deals. When you bear in mind that a standard two-bedroom flat in Clapham, Fulham, Brixton or Putney currently costs £650,000 plus (or more), it’s a hefty chunk of cash to have lying around.

Travelling to work understandably plays a huge part in the decision making process and, as this search for value continues, it begs the question, how far out are buyers prepared to go? The boom of the new build housing over the past 6 or 7 years in East London has catered particularly well for those that aren’t prepared to keep pushing further and further South or West. Whole communities and districts are being built in Stratford, Greenwich and London Docks which are catering for millennials’ every need. They have new transport links allowing them to get to work in the City as little as 5 or 10 minutes. Not only that but developments often come with gyms and porters, spas and swimming pools. There are restaurants and bars for afterhours socialising and, if owners need to hot desk or conduct a quick meeting or networking event, there are designated offices and meeting rooms too. Although the price gap between East and West is quickly closing as more and more buyers move in, there is still reasonable value in comparison and therefore the quality of property that you can afford is higher.

Millennials are recognised as an aspirational young bunch who have been brought up with the mentality that one should always own your own home–be ‘king of your own castle’. This is not the case in other countries such as Germany or France where Millennials are very comfortable renting and are quite happy not to have the responsibility or admin that comes with owning your own property. In the Mayor of London’s last policy statement it was acknowledged that, due to shortages in supply and rising prices, this generation may be the last generation to stand a chance of being able to afford their own home. Therefore, the Government is working hard, through the promotion of the Private Rented Sector, to change the sentiment among young people, away from the desires of owning your own home instead to aspire to rent the best flat in the best building in the best location with the best services, in some ways, not unlike hotel living. I believe they are being dubbed ‘Generation Rent” but, in the end, only time will tell.

Top 5 “must haves” for millennial buyers

  1. Access to parks or open spaces. Sunbathing in the summer or making use of the activities of an evening. Many millennial buyers currently looking in London have grown up in the countryside outside of the city and greenery and open space is something they crave. It reminds them of home!
  2. Gyms! This is an increasingly important requirement. Millennials love to keep in shape and being able to work out is very important. New gym studios are catering to this growing demand and you will no doubt be able to find a plethora of yoga, HIIT, or good old boot camps in most of these areas now. Lululemon seems to be the current sportswear brand of choice for many.
  3. Transport. Millennials take pleasure in working and are all striving to stand out from the crowd, however their social time is equally important and therefore being able to travel home quickly is a must.
  4. High Street. Millennials like to spend their money and what better way than on smashed avocado on sourdough toast at the weekend.
  5. New bathrooms and kitchens. With so much of their budget being spent securing the property, these buyers won’t want to take on something that requires further investment.

Top Plants for London Gardens

Justin Spink is a landscape designer based near Faringdon, on the borders of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire. He’s known for his ability to create beautiful and timeless gardens which are sympathetic to their surroundings. He has helped clients of mine on projects ranging from family houses in the countryside through to estates.

Here he gives his 8 top planting tips for London gardens.

“The great advantage of gardens in London is that they are mostly sheltered, and virtually frost-free,” explains Justin.   “These are some key plants to consider”:

Trachelospermum jasminoides – often known as star jasmine

Eriobotryea japonica – Japanese loquat

Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace – Silver variegated Tulbaghia which is garlic scented. These are best grown in pots lilac-mauve flowers throughout summer and into autumn

Magnolia grandiflora – needs no introduction

Rosa odorata ‘Mutabilis’ — A wonderful free flowering rose to grown against a wall or fence.  Grows to 2.5m (8 foot)

Salvia Amistad – A purple salvia with almost black calyces & stems which, if regularly dead headed, will flower May to October.

Clipped Bay and Olive trees – they bring shape and form to a space

Finally, bulbs in pots (what you can call a Bulb Lasagna). Bulbs can be planted in layers to extend the flowering season staring with iris reticulata (flowering in February), then Narcissi and hyacinths, followed by tulips and Alliums.

Contact Justin Spink Ltd (01367 821032; www.justinspink.com; info@justinspink.com)

 

TBS in The Evening Standard – Join the Culture Club

As the curtains lift on cultural festivals across the country, Arabella Youens finds family homes for Londoners on a learning curve.

With the literary, food and music festival season about to get under way, where should you search to buy a rural bolt hole that will feed your cultural appetite……Jonathan Bramwell at The Buying Solution comments.

Read Arabella Youens article at Standard.co.uk

Join the Culture Club

Chelsea’s enduring appeal: a buyer’s guide

Perhaps unlike any other area of Prime Central London, Chelsea’s historic streets have attracted the greatest mix of residents from members of the royal family to artists, rock stars, fashionistas and—more recently—wealthy businessmen and women from all over the world. Its lure has much to do with geographical location: you’re very much in the heart of London—on the doorstep of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Belgravia and an easy distance from Mayfair, the West End and the City.

Cutting a busy dash through the area is, of course, the iconic King’s Road which, in my mind, outperforms almost a lot of other high streets in the centre of the capital with Marylebone High Street coming close. From its ever-growing number of interesting shops and restaurants to the annual events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and the Masterpiece arts-and-antiques fair, which are both held in the gardens of the Royal Hospital, there’s always a buzz. But, at the same time, you only have to step off the King’s Road and wander around the streets behind to find a haven from the hustle and bustle.

Culturally, throughout the year, the area has lots going on from excellent performances at the Royal Court theatre to concerts at the Cadogan Hall—both of which are in Sloane Square which forms something of a focal point for the area with the Tube station and the much-loved department store, Peter Jones.

Another element that makes Chelsea attractive to buyers is the architecture which is far from generic. With the right budget (price per square foot for a good property is in the region of £2,000) there’s something for every appetite whether you’re looking for a small pied-a-terre, a larger house or an apartment, there’s everything here. What Chelsea rarely has is any new developments and those which are built often sell fast. Additionally, because the area was largely developed by wealthy landed estates, there are some very important examples of architecture from Argyll House which was built by Giacomo Leoni and Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Avenue, constructed in 1682. Today, alongside neighbouring St Leonard’s Terrace, Royal Avenue counts among some of the best addresses in Chelsea—they are unique for having an outlook that has barely changed in centuries.

Of course, many of our buyers have families and the area has a wealth of well-respected private day schools which are either located in Chelsea itself or just on the borders with Belgravia. These include Eaton House, Hill House, Garden House and Knightsbridge School. Additionally, because of the resident’s parking permit which allows you to park anywhere within the Royal Borough, it makes schools (as well as shops, restaurants and other amenities) that much easier to reach in other areas such as South Kensington and Notting Hill.

Something Chelsea has, that other prime areas perhaps lack, is personality. Much of it is occupied and clients often tell me that they want to live in a place that has a bit of vibrancy. Bars, restaurants and cafes will always be busy; that’s not always the case in other nearby neighbourhoods.

Chelsea living: the inside track

Breakfast: Colbert on Sloane Square

Lunch: The Botanist (also on Sloane Square)

Dinner: Lucio on Fulham Road

Cocktails: in the garden of The Ivy Chelsea

Shops: Peter Jones (for everything); The Chelsea Fishmonger (on Chelsea Green); Jago butchers (www.jagobutchersofchelsea.co.uk) on Elystan Street;  The Chelsea Gardener (on Sydney Street).and John Sandoe (www.johnsandoe.com) on Blacklands Terrace, just off King’s Road, for a proper old-fashioned book shop. There are also numerous interior design shops on the Fulham Road which are worth a browse.

Gym: KX on Draycott Avenue