Adding value to your agricultural property

Tessa Smith, Commercial Property Surveyor at Robinson & Hall shares with you how to add value to your agricultural property…

Many farms have buildings which are sat vacant or underutilised. A lot of these are easily transformed into a commercial unit, giving the building a new life and adding value to that existing asset.

Why commercial?

Commercial property is often seen as a good long-term investment which can work hand in hand with the existing farming enterprise.

The commercial market is seeing growth due to the increase in online retailing and the demand for storage space. A lot of farms have larger barns which are underutilised and provide an ideal property to be diversified into industrial purposes.

There is also a strong demand for commercial property in a rural location as the buildings are well suited, often less constrained than purpose built industrial sites, and there is a lack of supply to meet this demand.

Which farms are better suited?

The farms which benefit the most from converting their agricultural buildings to commercial use are those in strategically good locations with good highway access links.

What needs to be done?

The units do need to be suitable for commercial purposes. Planning consent is likely to be required. Consent for change of use can now be sought via permitted development in some cases which is a cheaper alternative to full planning consent.

The property needs to be in a good state of repair. This can be as little as cleaning the unit and repairing any holes in the roof, to a full refurbishment. The level of refurbishment will determine the future tenant and rental level.

Other benefits?

• Converting existing agricultural buildings to industrial can be completed at a lower initial investment compared to other forms of diversification.

• By diversifying the agricultural buildings, it means they stay within the existing business but are generating their own income.

• As well as the potential value that will be added to the property, it will also diversify the farm’s income and spreads the income risks further which can provide comfort.

Are commercial tenants attracted to rural property?

We have found that a lot of commercial tenants are attracted to former agricultural buildings due to the almost constant farming presence. This brings a level of security that other industrial units don’t attract unless they have 24/7 security which often comes at quite a cost.

What lets well?

We have seen that in the current market the most sought-after industrial units are the smaller units which are < 3,000 sq ft. These are being created by converting smaller agricultural buildings or splitting larger units.

Robinson & Hall have recently let two units under 2,000 sq ft in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire within two weeks of them being listed. These were both former agricultural buildings which had undergone similar levels of conversion.

If you have a redundant farm building and would like to discuss the opportunity of turning it into a commercial premise, please contact Tessa Smith, Commercial Property Surveyor on 01234 362939 or email

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