Rural Solutions is celebrating two milestones this year. It’s 30 years since the company was originally established, and ten years since the management buy-out. We look at the evolution of the diversification market over the last three decades, where Rural Solutions has so often been the pioneer, and see how that is brought to life on the Broughton Hall Estate, where the company started.

Estate owner, Roger Tempest, is the archetypal Rural Solutions client – a dynamic, forward thinking rural enthusiast. Back in the 80s, his estate needed new ways to sustain itself. A magnificent house and productive farmland – but consuming more investment than they generated. Roger looked across to the trunk road cutting through the estate and started to investigate what those passers-by might want. Why let them travel past Broughton to reach offices, warehouses, industrial units in the surrounding towns, when he can meet that need? He wasn’t short of fabulous buildings, in a beautiful setting, but redundant to farming or traditional estate uses. That was his prompt to start marketing the Broughton Estate as a business park location – a rural one. By converting old agricultural buildings into offices, there was the opportunity to create quite a unique and tranquil location for businesses, an alternative to the expensive, cramped, urban office space. Once this business model was returning healthily, it made sense to offer this opportunity to other estates. And so Rural Solutions was born.

At the beginning, Rural Solutions proposed a full property development service to estates: replicate the model, secure planning, undertake the design, project manage the scheme, on site construction, from beginning to end. This was a very successful endeavour and welcomed by many other innovative, business minded estates.

Fast forward a few years and the business park at Broughton was thriving and attracting nationwide brands as building occupiers – these beautifully restored buildings with an abundance of outside space, plenty of parking was a great draw for businesses with clients to entertain and for those with a rural background, fitted very well with their brand. Today the park has 52 companies and 700 people working there. The offices were so busy in fact that there was then a further opportunity to provide the tenants with a food and beverage facility. However, working on an estate like Broughton, it was crucial that when adding to this landscape, it was done in a unique and inspiring way. At the top of the Walled Garden, architect, Sir Michael Hopkins designed an impressive glass building named ‘Utopia’. A contemporary design that allowed for an abundance of natural light and a feeling that you could enjoy the landscape while inside. Everything about the place complements the quality of its surroundings, from the facilities to the food. Utopia provided people with another reason to come to the estate. The venue is also used for conferences and meetings, as well as a place for weddings and parties at weekends, another successful diversification taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings.

Over 100 beds are now available in the holidays homes and the Hall.

Broughton is indeed an Enterprising Estate, with an ambitious owner. It has been receptive to market needs, pushed the boundaries in planning policy and been brave with design choices and for those reasons, the estate has flourished and been a wonderful client to work with in that time.

For them, it has meant more money can be spent looking after the hall which is often used as a venue for functions as well as a location for films and fashion shoots amongst others.

The cottages have been preserved to a high standard making them great holiday accommodation offerings, as well as the grounds used for many local food, film, literary, music and fitness festivals and events.

The most recent addition to the assets has been the magnificent health and wellbeing centre, Avalon. Inspired by Roger’s personal interest and passion for wellbeing, the centre has allowed the whole estate to be marketed as a place for wellbeing retreats.

Again, ensuring the highest standards in architecture and delivery, this diversification is at the forefront of another trend, increasing in popularity, in an age where busy lives and urban living can all prove too much, a place to ‘get away’ from it all is proving more and more appealing.

Combined with channels like Instagram allowing this message to filter into people’s newsfeeds on a regular basis, this area is evolving into one of the top diversification trends for 2020.

Just as Broughton has evolved beyond all expectation in the last 30 years, Rural Solutions has been on a similar journey of expansion. The team has evolved and grown into a nationwide group of over 40 professionals with skills spanning a number of disciplines; business consultancy, planning, building and landscape architecture, all contributing a wealth of rural expertise and industry intelligence. We no longer offer construction or site project management, but we’ve also expanded into whole estate planning, landscape design, and leisure expertise, And as we have seen at Broughton, the possibilities for diversification in rural locations has changed, matured and grown dramatically with the opportunity bigger than ever, and the market, although more discerning, more receptive than ever.

Our passion for rural business is at the heart of what we do; we believe with the right advice and approach, diversification can transform clients’ estates and the prospects of rural communities that reside within them just like the work done at Broughton.

For more information please get in touch to speak to a member of the team.