Six of the best for Christmas

The refurbishment of six of the Duchy’s rural residential properties to incorporate the Duchy Design Guide has been completed this month and all properties are let and will be occupied in time for Christmas.

A mix of traditional cottages, period farmhouses and family residences, Park and Apple Tree Cottages, Brakenhurst Farm, Cloughton Fields and Root Hill and Bridge Cottages are the latest properties to be brought up to the Duchy’s new quality and interior design standard. They are part of a rolling programme of investment and improvement works designed to upgrade and update the portfolio across each of the Rural Surveys.

The new Duchy Standard, introduced in April 2015, provides for a consistent specification throughout the portfolio, from the design and fabrication of kitchen and bathroom fittings, through to interior paint finishes and external decoration.

“We are so thrilled with Park Cottage,” said new resident Kim Clarkson. “I work as a groundsman on a large Duchy property just opposite the cottage on the Crewe estate in Cheshire, so I’ve been able to watch the work as it’s been going on. We were really keen to be able to get in before Christmas and I have to say that the Duchy team delivered as they said they would. We are absolutely thrilled with the end result. It looks fantastic and we are looking forward to starting the New Year in our new home.”

Pride in the property is a consistent message coming back from our new residents. When looking for more living space for her extended family, Mrs Claire Peach recently moved from one Duchy property to another on our Needwood estate in Staffordshire:

“We have been Duchy tenants now for ten years,” says Claire “and we were keen to remain as part of the Duchy family. When we started looking for more space, we began by exploring the estate and fell in love with Brakenhurst Farm. However, it was scheduled for a full refurbishment to bring it up to the new Duchy standard and we really wanted to be settled so that we could enjoy a traditional family Christmas. The Duchy team has worked hard to help us meet this deadline and the quality of the work undertaken has completely transformed the house, from a traditional period farmhouse to a truly fabulous family home.”

The Duchy will continue to roll out its £multi-million investment programme where appropriate to do so. For further information on future projects please contact

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London’s Strand Lights Up For Christmas

 View of Strand lights (3)The Strand has been decorated with its own Christmas lights for the very first time, thanks to the Northbank BID and support from local businesses.  This is the latest in a series of initiatives led by the BID and supported by the Duchy aimed at positioning the Northbank as a destination to rival other areas of the capital such as South Bank and Covent Garden.

As the owner of the historic Savoy estate along the Strand and down to the embankment, as well as being both a significant landlord and tenant, the Duchy of Lancaster is totally committed to the principle of making the Northbank a ‘go-to’ destination for commercial tenants, retailers and tourists. Duchy representatives take an active role in the BID and have a seat on the Freeholders Group and the Strand Project Group.  In order to facilitate the erection of the lights, the Duchy granted a wayleave across two of its larger tenanted office buildings on the Strand, Wellington House and Norman House.

Commenting on the ‘big switch-on’ completed by the cast of the West End hit Mamma Mia, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “This area is full of beautiful buildings, vibrant bars and restaurants and thriving businesses. Anything which encourages more people to visit the Northbank has to be good news for those who live and work here. We applaud the BID for getting the lights up for the first time ever here on the Strand and look forward to supporting many more such initiatives in the New Year.”

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Duchy Farmer Named Dairy Innovator of 2015

MARK_VERITY__WEB_Dairy_Finalist A former Duchy Scholar has been named Dairy Innovator of the Year at the 2015 British Farming Awards.

Mark Verity has lived on the Duchy’s Whitewell estate in Lancashire all his life and in recent years has been gradually taking over responsibility for the 700-acreRadholme Laund farm from his father, Stuart. In 2010, Mark attended the Oxford Farming Conference as a Duchy Scholar, having been inspired by the professional approach to dairy farming he had experienced first-hand in New Zealand. When his time came to take over the 380-head herd, Mark wasted no time in applying cutting-edge milking technology and computerised management and monitoring equipment designed to maximise productivity. The net result has been impressive growth year on year.

Commenting on the award, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “It’s so encouraging to see the younger generation put their own stamp on a family farm and introduce new ways of doing things. Introducing new practices can be a challenge in the face of historic and well tested methodologies. However, Mark and his family have always had an eye to the future. Back in 2004, the Duchy supported them when they wanted to invest in a state-of-the-art milking parlour at Radholme Laund. This has now culminated in national recognition for Mark as a serious innovator in his field.”

In the citation for the award, the British Farming Awards judges said: “We were impressed by the positive attitude shown by Mark and his team with their sharp focus on the key issues facing the business. Their adoption of some innovative yet practical solutions has given them a clearly defined strategy for future success.”

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Willow Cottage Hits The Mark

IMG_1756.3  When Willow Cottage on the Duchy of Lancaster’s Crewe Estate became available, local resident Angela Bamford was keen to move in as soon as possible. Once the Duchy team had completed the refurbishment of this historic property to bring it up to the new Duchy standard, Angela was handed the keys.

She and her husband Ian are absolutely thrilled to be taking over the tenancy and love the quality and design of the interior decoration:

“We were overjoyed when we heard we’d got it,” she said, “as it’s got everything we need and is just a stone’s throw from the village where I grew up. The renovation has been very tastefully and cleverly done. They have managed to keep the cottage’s ‘olde worlde’ character, but combine it with a modern contemporary feel. So many of the fixtures and fittings are modern and the colour palate has been kept neutral, but the kitchen floor still has its historic quarry floor tiles, and the original doors and skirting boards have been retained, as well as the fireplace.  The property has also had a new boiler and oil tank, and the bathroom and kitchen are really lovely, with integrated appliances and a bright white décor. We couldn’t be happier with it.”

The Duchy of Lancaster has recently developed a new design guide and specification for its residential properties and is investing significant sums over the next 3 years to ensure that all of their properties meet this quality standard:

“We believe that anyone living in one of our properties has a right to expect a certain quality standard,” said Christopher Sparrow, Head of Rural at the Duchy of Lancaster. “We are absolutely committed to investing in our properties over the next few years so that the quality is consistent – and consistently first-class. We want all of our tenants to be as delighted with their new home as Angela and Ian have been with Willow Cottage.”

The Duchy of Lancaster’s Crewe estate includes around 70 period cottages and farmhouses as well as 10 farms, a number of equestrian businesses and woodlands.

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Duchy Acquires Waitrose Store in Coulsdon

Waitrose Coulsdon  In line with its strategy of investing in a diverse range of commercial opportunities in key locations, the Duchy of Lancaster has acquired a Waitrose food store comprising 17,000 square feet in the commuter town of Coulsdon.

The acquisition is a two-storey building on the high street opposite Coulsdon train station. The tenant, Waitrose, operates a food store on the premises under a lease which expires in 2034.

Commenting on the purchase, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “The site itself covers 0.7 acres and is in a key location. Coulsdon is an affluent commuter town with excellent transport and communication links into London. We are continually looking at opportunities to invest in key strategic locations and this purchase will add further diversification to our growing urban and commercial portfolio.”

This is the fourth commercial acquisition made by the Duchy of Lancaster since the start of the year. The Duchy was advised on the purchase by Marchmont Investment Management.

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