A document, entitled “Birchford & Baldwins Farm, Business Update March 2013” posted as part of planning application RR/2013/293/P reveals staggeringly large on-going losses at the farming/equestrian “business” that has been used to support the various planning applications.
2007: loss of £46,405
2008: loss of £86,222
2009: loss of £37,714
2010: loss of £34,229
2011: loss of £26,045
2012: loss of £28,340
These losses do not include any finance costs for the “investment” in buildings or stock. If these were to be included, the losses would be even higher.
The future projections forecast even greater losses going forward:
2013: projected loss of £86,751
2014: projected loss of £99,526
2015: projected loss of £117,083
2016: projected loss of £113,534
2017: projected loss of £126,363
What is bizarre is that the business plan does the opposite of what it should do by firmly demonstrating that the entire “Birchford vision” is an uneconomic fantasy. Total operating losses to date of the farm are £260,000. Even this doesn’t appear to include much labour costs – which are only shown as about £10,000 per annum for the groom (nothing for the mythical shepherd). None of the historical figures seem to include any capital costs (eg for the expensive tractor) or costs such as fencing, hedging etc that have already been carried out.
The historical accounts couldn’t be more conclusive in proving that almost all parts of his farming business are uneconomic – the cattle were purchased for £9,650 and sold two years later for £9,027; the pigs ate their way through £4,893 worth of feed before being sold for £540, and there is a continuing spend of £20,000 a year on horses which have yet to generate a single penny of income. This is a hobby not a business.
The projections are even more extraordinary – despite assumptions that appear to show the sheep suddenly becoming hugely fertile (50 sheep seem to be able to give birth to around 460 lambs a year), the losses are forecast to continue to mount to about £120,00 per annum or £540,000 over the next five years. The groom does get a pay rise to £14,500 pa which will be good news for the groom, but there is no allowance for a full-time groom to live on site. The plan does allow for a shepherd who will cost about four times more than the annual gross profit from the sheep. There is also an allowance for a gardener. The most well paid member of staff appears to be the director himself, taking out, each year, about £35,000 of the non-existent profits.
Members of the public may wish to cite this new “business update” in making objections to each the current Baldwins planning applications:
RR/2012/2343/P (construction of proposed enormous new mock-Georgian “manor house” and 6 “eco-lodges on stilts overlooking the Darwell reservoir)
RR/2013/293/P (retain use of garage as groom’s accommodation for a temporary period of 3 years)
RR/2013/311/P (alteration of machinery store to include temporary accommodation for personal use – retrospective)
The setting up of the “equestrian enterprise” was claimed to be necessary to provide financial support for the traditional farming activities that the applicant claimed to be carrying on, and this was used as the justification for the construction of a stable block and ugly outdoor manège (sand school) and all of the above three planning applications. The new “business update” makes it quite clear that the equestrian enterprise is just as loss-making as the traditional farming activites, and therefore cannot possibly be providing financial support.
Do not be put off by the fact that the comment deadlines appear to have passed for all the above applications. By law Rother District Council must take into account all comments received before they actually make a decision, and none of the above have been decided yet. Comments can be made through the form on Rother’s web site (click on the link “Comment on this application”) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org making sure that you include your name and address.