Left to right: Philip Cowen, Partner and Head of Rural Estate Management welcomes Conolly McCausland.
Conolly has been managing a traditional mixed land-use country estate in Northern Ireland since 1995 and joins Bruton Knowles with a strong remit to concentrate on the development of the firm’s rural services throughout South West England covering Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
With previous managerial experience in agriculture, property, leisure and forestry sectors, Conolly will primarily be working out of Bruton Knowles’ new Taunton office, although he intends to spend more time working with clients and focusing on their issues on the ground rather than sitting behind an office desk.
While he is hugely experienced in all aspects of rural management, Conolly’s particular specialism is diversification.
He explained: “The long awaited lift-off in the wider economy and residential construction sector in particular has provided huge opportunities for landowners to enhance returns from their estates. Reform of the agricultural subsidy system in 2015 will also lead to further business restructuring which needs to be planned in advance.
“The National Planning Policy Framework was set up, among other things, to address the current undersupply of housing and the decline of rural communities and part of my role will be helping landowners make best use of the opportunities the planning system is now offering. This makes it an exciting time for rural landowners, as with these new opportunities now coming forwards we are seeing a real impact on land and property values.
“These factors mean estate managers have enormous scope to broaden their horizons and diversify into sectors such as leisure or renewable energy, maybe even such diverse projects as artisan food production or caravan parks.”
Conolly, who qualified at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, went on: “Traditional estates do not always make the most of their resources and I specialise in helping owners and managers identify the next steps to help maintain and improve their property and business.
“The South West agricultural sector is fighting fit again and I believe this is a good time to be operating in the region’s vibrant property market, which is clearly far stronger than it has been for years.”
Philip Cowen, Head of Rural Estate Management, said: “We are delighted to welcome Conolly to our South-West team, and his experience is such that our estate management and rural assets offering will be at the forefront of his mind, although development of BK’s rural team throughout the South West is also firmly on the agenda.
“At a time when land values continue to rise, in contradiction to many agricultural commodity prices, farmers and landowners need to be both flexible and imaginative as they develop their businesses. With an impressive previous track record Conolly has the scope and breadth of experience to add real value to our client’s assets in such exciting times.
“Conolly’s arrival is part of Bruton Knowles continued growth in the rural sector, and a reflection on the firm’s commitment to rural affairs in a challenging marketplace. With rural professionals now assisting landowners and farmers throughout the Country, the strength of our national team is something that very few other local firms are able to offer.”