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.