Agricultural Property – Rural business parks

Agricultural Property – Rural business parks

This article was published on: 19th August 2021

Rural business parks are becoming increasingly popular sites for businesses, and their market share will likely increase in the aftermath of coronavirus, once companies and their staff are back working normally (whatever ‘normality’ that might actually entail).

Why are they so popular? They tend to offer flexible accommodation in picturesque settings, and often with good transport links to major towns and cities via motorways. Without constraints on size (as experienced in city centres), it allows a range of businesses to find a home, from standard offices (recruitment, financial services, law etc.) to warehouses, distribution centres, and even scientific laboratories.



Landowners – typically those with large estates which might have been in the family for generations – are therefore starting to realise the potential of rural business parks, both as a source of income and for the use of otherwise wasted space, converting old out-buildings into modern office and warehouse space, and trying to tempt companies out of established locations in city centres.

Technology remains a key consideration – as the world moves increasingly into an era of virtual or remote meetings and communication, many rural areas still lack adequate broadband capacity; in 2018, 7% of rural areas could not get a decent broadband speed, compared with only 1% in urban areas, according to a Government report.

However, many potential developments, particularly those involving the construction of new buildings, might be delayed or even stopped entirely by opposition from local residents, by planning considerations, and by covenants on the land.

A covenant is an agreement between two neighbouring landowners which might limit or prohibit what one piece of land (the ‘servient land’) can be used for, for the benefit of the neighbouring land (the ‘dominant land’). A positive covenant might require one of the landowners to erect a fence or wall, or to be responsible for maintenance of a roadway, and does not usually bind successors in title (i.e. subsequent land owners). A negative covenant might limit use of the land (such as to agricultural use only, or preventing the building of multiple houses or buildings on land) or prohibit certain trades on the land (often seen with supermarkets and alcohol), and usually does bind successors in title.

Restrictive covenants can be varied or removed through a number of means, including agreement between the parties or applications to the Tribunal or County Court. Indemnity insurance can also be obtained to protected against the enforcement of a covenant.

We have frequently advised clients on all issues related to commercial tenancies, including lease renewals and terminations and arrears and insolvency, so do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance.

Author: Philip Copley, Associate

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