Diversification is the name of the game for many landowners

IN THE challenging economic climate of the last 18 months, it is hard to think of a section of society that hasn't been affected by the recession.

Sarah Smith

IN THE challenging economic climate of the last 18 months, it is hard to think of a section of society that hasn't been affected by the recession. The impact on the licensed trade has been well documented in the press with record numbers of pubs closing.

However, we have also seen an increase in previously non-licensed businesses seeking licences in order to maximise returns on their businesses. Rural businesses appear to be leading the way on diversification in these difficult times.

Over the last year Sintons has worked closely with a large number of North East land and property owners, who have sought to weather the storm by diversifying their businesses. Sintons has dealt with some very interesting and often novel applications.

One of the most lucrative areas for property owners to tap into is the wedding market. Even in a recession brides are not prepared to scrimp on their big day and Sintons has received a lot of interest from owners of large, or even small, country houses looking to offer the full wedding package. With the appropriate premises licence in place permitting sale of alcohol and entertainment and the necessary approval to conduct marriage ceremonies on the premises, almost any sound building can be used for this purpose.

The wedding market allows the owner to be selective as to when they hire out their homes, avoiding the need to have strangers traipsing through their living room on a daily basis. With weddings often being booked years in advance, owners also have a good idea of future income and marketing costs can be very small.

Landowners have also been utilising their fields and parkland by hiring them out to organisers of concerts and music events. Again with tickets selling at over £50 a head, and the audience of such events being so large, people are keen to jump on the Glastonbury band wagon, albeit on a smaller scale.

If you haven’t got the stomach to handle the brides or the crowds Sintons has also dealt with many more modest applications involving the conversion of barns and outbuildings to high quality restaurants, cafes, farm shops and even ice cream parlours.

Whether your plan for diversification is big or small it will require deft handling of the planning, licensing and commercial aspects. In order to turn dreams into reality you will require a well- thought out strategy. You will need to research your proposals carefully to deal with potentially delicate negotiations with licensing and planning authorities, police, fire authorities and others.

This is always best dealt with prior to submitting applications to avoid wasted costs and the help of professional advisers will be invaluable at an early stage.

Both Sarah Smith and Lucy Winskell of Sintons Licensing team have gained a reputation for skilful negotiations with licensing authorities, the police and fire authorities as well as neighbouring landowners, leading to successful outcomes for all.

With many years of experience between them, the Sintons Licensing team can help achieve a property’s maximum potential.

Contact Sarah Smith or Lucy Winskell, Partners in Sintons LLP’s Licensing team on: Sarah - 0191 226 4897, sarah.smith@sintons.co.uk

Lucy - 0191 226 7802, lucy.winskell@sintons.co.uk


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