Farm Show Round Up – Cultivating New Leads

on Wednesday, 15 December 2021.

Farm Business Innovation Show 2021

We’ve been busy following up leads from The Farm Business Innovation Show this month. Senior Planners Zoe (Wilkinson) and Ben (Kelly) joined Director Dan (Roycroft) for the 2-day annual exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC.

I caught up with Zoe earlier in the week to find out how it went.

Zoe: I have to say great! I’m sure the organisers were incredibly relieved the show went ahead, especially after everything was cancelled last year. It was great to see people face to face again.

Why did you choose The Farm Business Innovation Show?

Zoe: It seemed the perfect fit. We’re Wiltshire-based - on the edge of the Test Valley - so we already work for a number of farmers; those with barns or buildings to develop or convert either through applications or under Permitted Development Rights (such as Class Q or Class R). We’ve spent years working in this sector, building our network of local contacts, all of whom share our vision for optimising the value of agricultural buildings.

The show was an opportunity to connect with farmers, ecologists and developers from rural communities located further afield, as well as the chance to catch up with architects we haven’t seen in a while!

How did it go?

Zoe: It couldn’t have gone better! It was a good job we had 3 of us manning the stand most of the time, because we were busy right from the off. With a steady stream of people coming onto the stand to chat or ask questions, right up ‘til closing time on the final day. Lots of really exciting leads and interesting conversations with farmers, landowners and rural business owners – even enquiries from the leisure industry.

Our stand attracted interest from those attending completely different shows at the NEC on the same day; the Country House Business Innovation Show, Family Attraction Expo, Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show and the Leisure Food & Beverage Expo.

Had visitors come far?

Zoe: We chatted with people from all over the UK; Cornwall, The Lakes, Essex and Wales. As well as architects, ecologists and landscape architects, all of whom we’re excited to collaborate with on future projects.

We work with third parties on a daily basis, so meeting new contacts is always great.

Any surprises?

Zoe: The show generated a few enquiries we couldn’t have anticipated.

An agricultural barn with potential as a wedding venue, an outdoor leisure enquiry and a planning application for a glamping business. Over the 2 days we collected lots of new leads; some for whom we’ve already been able to do a quick feasibility appraisal for FREE (EG: a Barn Conversion in Wiltshire) and other more complex enquiries for whom we’re following up with fee quotes for more detailed planning appraisals.

Do you have an ideal enquiry?

Zoe: What we really love is being able to help someone who’s been told something’s not possible. We love a challenge and just because you’ve been told your planning is refused, it’s ALWAYS worth getting a second opinion.

Clients often come to us for a second opinion because they haven’t got the outcome they wanted.

We believe taking a strategic approach to planning can make all the difference. Looking at case law, compiling evidence, taking the path less travelled, considering Permitted Development rights, sometimes submitting more than one application to get to the result you want. Now that’s satisfying!

We were approached by someone, unhappy that their current planning consultants had failed to get planning permission. Due to the manner of the application, we were able to reassure them that since we’ve already handled similar applications, we felt confident we could achieve a successful outcome by adopting a different approach.

What advice would you give someone considering exhibiting next year?

Zoe: Take a chair - my feet were killing me at the end of the 2 days!

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