James Cowper Kreston assist in Oxford International College acquisition by Oxford International Education Group

James Cowper Kreston assist in Oxford International College acquisition by Oxford International Education Group

James Cowper Kreston are pleased to announce the successful acquisition of Oxford International College by Oxford International Education Group (OIEG), the private education provider backed by Bowmark Capital. The corporate finance team provided transaction support services to OIEG as part of this transaction.

Oxford International Education Group have an extensive portfolio of schools with an international range. The addition of Oxford International College, the third Oxford College now owned by the group gives both parents and students more options to suit their specific educational needs, whether based domestically or overseas.

The corporate finance team at James Cowper Kreston provided transaction support services to OIEG to assist the financing and acquisition decision. The team worked closely with OIEG and Bowmark Capital throughout the transaction process.

Brad McAvoy, Corporate Finance Director at James Cowper Kreston said: “This is the first time we have worked with OIEG and Bowmark Capital and we were pleased to be involved in their growth strategy. Our work provided insight to OIEG as to how Oxford International College would function financially alongside the existing OIEG colleges. We are thrilled the acquisition was a success and hope to work with OIEG again in the future.”

www.jamescowperkreston.co.uk

James Cowper Kreston

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Leadership for Oxfords housing challenges

Leadership for Oxfords housing challenges

Challenges around Oxford’s housing situation are well-reported. A combination of unique and complex historical constraints, resulting planning protections, together with natural limitations of the floodplain area mean residential space is at an absolute premium. Add to this a student population of nearly 34,000, question marks over green belt development and a public perception that local government’s housing strategy is not clear and the picture is both complex and unclear

This leaves us with a housing market under pressure, with poor choice, high prices and a real need for leadership as to how the City plans for the future.

A City for students, keyworkers and young people

Oxford’s high student population inevitably puts acute pressure on the private rental market. Both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University are responding to this by developing additional bespoke accommodation blocks, enabling more students to opt for university housing, freeing up capacity in the private rental sector. Recent planning policy changes, however, have made this more difficult as the city planners seek to limit the criteria for locations of new student accommodation schemes. Some Colleges, such as Somerville, have been able to construct new high quality purpose built accommodation within their own boundaries, but it is not possible for all.

At the same time, both key workers and young people find it increasingly challenging to get on the housing ladder; the average young person has to spend 16 years saving up for their deposit for a first home. Even then, their options are too expensive or very poor quality stock; figures from Oxford City Council show that the average house price here is over 17 times average earnings.

Shaping the economy

The shortage of affordable housing has wider implications. Oxford’s growing economy as an education hub and location for fast-growth tech companies means its unemployment rate is just 1%. This in turn puts further pressure on the City’s employers.

Businesses are essentially competing with the London market or the science and business parks such as Oxford Science Park and Harwell Campus, as employees opt to live in more affordable outskirt locations. The end result? A shortage of talent in both the public and private sectors, and traffic congestion on the roads in and out of the City.

Property trends in Oxford

Where does this leave Oxford’s property market? From our perspective, the exciting buildings have been centred around the University of Oxford such as the new Maths Institute and the Blavatnik School of Government. Where protection and planning allows, developers are looking at converting old buildings and using permitted development rights. If we look further afield, real innovation and place-making is happening in centres such as Harwell Campus, with its masterplan to blend specialist laboratories, bespoke office space and leisure facilities to create a genuinely unique and modern place to work and live.

Looking at more original ways to expand housing options, let’s look at the impact of the successful Westgate development on the centre’s landscape. Despite concerns that the shopping centre would draw shoppers away from the high street, a broader trend to independent and more sustainable shopping could support boutique shops with residential occupation replacing current old office stock on the upper floors. With the option to develop housing above these independent retailers, it is possible this could create a more vibrant city centre.

Room for real leadership

With the local population increase set to put ever more pressure on Oxford, the time for a joint solution – across government, universities and business – is critical. Collectively we need to work together to create a broader vision, think long term and have the confidence to go beyond traditional thinking. Whether it is midrise buildings in the City centre, extending development in the green belt or widening streets to support infrastructure, decisions are needed. We only have to look to our friends in Cambridge to see how an entire landscape and eco-system can be transformed when we dare to innovate.

The Oxfordshire Voice initiative is one such response to the perceived lack of leadership. A collaboration between public and private sector organisations, it aims to inform and influence those policies and decisions that impact the future economic performance and growth of Oxfordshire.

For now, decisive action is needed to ensure we retain our thriving, forward thinking economy and behave responsibly for our residents.

Written by: Richard Smith, Partner, Commercial Property, Planning and Environmental Law – Penningtons Manches

www.penningtons.co.uk

Penningtons Manches

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Jonna and Gemma at Homeless Oxford

You HR Consultancy has started work with their charity partner Homeless Oxfordshire

You HR is working alongside an Oxfordshire based charity to raise awareness for the work they do supporting the homeless of Oxfordshire.

The number of rough sleepers in Oxford has risen by 175% since 2012.

Providing support for over 30 years Homeless Oxfordshire are the largest accommodation provider across the county. With a 56 bed hostel and 144 beds across the local community in 24 properties offering a full range of support.

Homeless Oxfordshire create individual solutions to individual needs. They provide health and wellbeing support via the Luther Street Medical Centre.

They influence public provision and policy by highlighting the social impact of our work. They raise awareness and reduce the stigma of homelessness, becoming the charity of choice for local people.

You HR Consultancy recently volunteered in the kitchen at O’Hanlon House and some of the team will be taking part in their charity bike ride to raise funds in May and also participating in the Oxford half marathon in October.

CEO Jonna Mundy said “It has been a humbling experience to volunteer with Homeless Oxfordshire and we are investing more than 100 hours of our support to develop the future aspirations of the charity and those they assist”

You HR Consultancy

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blenheim farming charity

Blenheim joins forces with farming charity

Blenheim is working with an Oxfordshire-based farming charity to host working visits for people with learning disabilities and autism.

A team of co-farmers from FarmAbility will be making regular visits to the Blenheim Estate to assist in a variety of hands-on animal and land-based activities.
 
The initiative is part of a series of community-based charitable programmes supported by Blenheim as part of its goal to double its charitable contributions within a decade.
 
FarmAbility is a farm-based programme for co-farmers, who are people over the age of 16 with learning disabilities and often also with autistic spectrum disorder.
 
Recently a group from the charity helped build lambing pens, ahead of the main lambing season, under the close supervision of Head Shepherd Charles Gerring and FarmAbility staff.
 
“People with learning disabilities and autism face significant barriers to finding meaningful roles in society, although with the right support and an inclusive atmosphere, co-farmers can make a really valuable contribution to their local communities,” said Sarah Giles, Director, FarmAbility.
 
“We were thrilled when the Blenheim Estate agreed to host visits and the connection we’ve made with Charles and his team has been fantastic in offering co-farmers the chance to develop new skills, both work based, and social.
 
“Above all, the warm and friendly welcome co-farmers have received from everyone they’ve met at Blenheim has created the sense of community and belonging they deserve.
 
“We are excited to be planning regular visits to Blenheim and are looking forward to exploring the huge potential for purposeful roles the Estate can offer to people with learning disabilities,” she added.
 
FarmAbility believes people with disabilities thrive when they have a regular opportunity to take pride in doing real work, to act within in a supportive team, and to feel part of a productive and welcoming community.
 
This makes farms ideal spaces where people who have struggled in mainstream learning environments can approach new experiences, build and strengthen skills, and gain confidence in themselves and in their abilities.
 
Blenheim’s Head Shepherd, Charles Gerring, said: “I have three children that have degrees of physical and learning disability so I’m particularly aware of the opportunities that should be given to the co-farmers.
 
“Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to try things out and, from seeing what the co-farmers can do and the pleasure and enjoyment they get from it, I’m proud we can support them,” he added.
 
The FarmAbility scheme is part of Blenheim’s continued drive to bring business, charity and social enterprise closer by sharing the World Heritage Site and its Estate with local and regional groups.
 
In 2017 Blenheim CEO Dominic Hare set out 10 bold goals for the estate which include doubling charitable contribution to the community and tripling the economic impact on the local community.

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Pennington Manches

Highly regarded real estate lawyers join Penningtons Manches in Oxford

The Oxford office of top 50 law firm Penningtons Manches has hired two prominent local lawyers to strengthen its real estate practice.
 
Justin Winterbottom and Charlie Seaward – both previously partners at BrookStreet des Roches – have joined the 23 strong team at Oxford Business Park in Garsington.
 
Justin has been appointed as a partner. His main focus is on commercial property fund investment work and development projects, and it is anticipated he will play a major role in the future growth and development of the Oxford Real Estate team.
 
Charlie has joined as a consultant. Very well known in the local business community, he brings with him a loyal client base established over several decades of working on high profile and complex transactions.
 
Partner Richard Smith, Penningtons Manches’ head of real estate in Oxford, comments: “We’re delighted that two very high calibre lawyers have made the decision to join the team. They will be a great asset as we continue to develop our capacity and capability in the region. I’m very much looking forward to working with them.”
 
The announcement coincides with the news that Penningtons Manches has also appointed a senior real estate lawyer to develop and lead a new practice in Birmingham.
Penningtons Manches real estate division represents almost a quarter of the firm’s fee income. Its various practice areas, including the real estate investors, commercial property and residential teams, are highly rated by prominent legal directories Chambers UK and The Legal 500.  In the last financial year fee income grew by 16 % on the back of a busy and successful 12 months.

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The Oxford Pass

The Oxford Pass

On Wednesday 3 April, Blenheim Palace hosted the launch of the new Oxford Pass.
 
The joint initiative between Blenheim Palace, Experience Oxfordshire and Oxford Bus Company aims to increase tourism to the city and surrounding areas.
 
Initially available for a 12-month trial period, the Pass offers visitors a quick and convenient ‘one stop shop’ combination ticket to both the best attractions and transport links.
 
Dominic Hare, Blenheim Palace CEO says: “At an uncertain national moment, we can be sure that our wonderful heritage-led tourist industry will continue to generate economic value and employment for local people in the future as we draw enthralled visitors to the area.”
 
For more information about the Oxford Pass visit www.oxfordpass.com

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More Than Two In Three Farmers Have Diversified To Boost Income New Research By Carter Jonas And Farmers Weekly Reveals

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, and Farmers Weekly, the market leading media brand for the UK agriculture industry, have unveiled that more than two thirds (68%) of farmers and landowners have diversified to support their incomes. The findings are from a new survey completed by 250 Farmers Weekly readers.

Of those who have diversified 97% consider it a success from a profitability perspective whilst eight in 10 thought that it was also an environmental success. More than half of those currently diversifying plan to do more in the next five years.

Securing planning permission, funding and correctly budgeting for a new enterprise are the areas that farmers found most challenging. Only one in five received grant funding to assist with their new venture.

Among those planning to diversify, it will mostly be into commercial lets such as workshops, offices, and storage, alongside residential developments for tourism and the domestic rental market. However, the survey revealed respondents are running a wide range of alternative enterprises including farm shops, renewable energy, winter gritting services, coffee roasting and dog training.

Fig. 1 Q. In which of the following ways have you diversified your farm or estate? In which of the following ways are you considering diversifying your farm or estate?

Mark Charter, Partner at Carter Jonas Oxford, said: “Whilst agriculture is seen as one of the country’s most historic industries, conversely, it is also at the forefront when it comes to embracing innovation. Across the UK there are excellent examples of progressive farmers who have adopted modern technologies and new business lines to drive efficiency and better utilise land and assets to provide new and improved income streams. Carter Jonas has advised on a very wide range of diversification projects often assisting with initial concepts, progressing planning applications, managing building projects and providing investment and letting advice.

“Some respondents  felt forced to go down the alternative enterprise route to simply survive, this feeling is only likely to accelerate as we move into a new regime of farm support. Income from pure farming is likely to decline over the next few years and farmers need to seize what opportunities they have to generate income.”

Suzie Horne, Business Editor, Farmers Weekly added: “Farmers Weekly is delighted with the detailed responses people gave to the survey, taking time to offer their tips and advice about branching out from farming. Of course a new enterprise often brings more risk but it can also help to modify or develop the structure of a family business, enabling it to accommodate a new generation when farming alone may not be able to do so.

“There were practical warnings about the pitfalls too, but overall the result was very positive towards alternative enterprises, with the vast majority making a profit. Many of those who responded had a clear plan and drive to raise the level of engagement with and education of the public about food, farming and the countryside and the survey revealed plenty of examples of an excellent job already being done on this front.”

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SANE and the Black Dog Campaign

Sane’s Black Dog Visits Churchill’s Birthplace

SANE, a mental health charity, will be bringing a four-foot-tall statue of a black dog called Sirius to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, from Monday, 8th April – Tuesday, 22nd April as part of their Black Dog Campaign.
 
The campaign aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourages people to seek help early, rather than suffering in silence.
 
Sirius will be on display in the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site’s Pleasure Gardens.
 
The Black Dog has been used from classical mythology through medieval folklore to modern times as a universal metaphor for depression: Sir Winston Churchill is famously reported to have used it to describe his darker moods. 
 
Imposing sculptures of Black Dogs wearing coats designed by artists, celebrities or others and standing on a plinth featuring SANEline and other sources of help have been placed in business foyers, public parks and shopping centres in towns and cities throughout the UK.
 
The campaign is also touring schools and universities, encouraging people to find a more accessible language in which to express their inner feelings of anxiety, loneliness or despair. The tour of Oxfordshire has been spearheaded by High Sheriff of Oxfordshire 2018/19, Richard Venables who comments ‘In my last week of being the High Sheriff I am delighted to be able to bring Sirius to Blenheim to highlight the issue of mental health which is pervasive throughout society and bring awareness to staff and visitors to Blenheim’.
 
Megan Carter, HR Manager Blenheim, said: “Staff wellbeing is incredibly important and something we are absolutely committed to here at Blenheim.
 
“We have set up a number of initiatives aimed at making it far easier for people to discuss any issues or worries they may have with other team members and we’ve introduced a range of activities designed to improve overall wellbeing and also to enable team leaders to identify signs of stress and depression,”
she added.
 
She continues: “We are pleased to welcome SANE who are bringing Sirius the Black Dog to Blenheim highlighting mental health. There is a poignant link between Churchill’s ‘Black Dog’ and Blenheim. I am pleased that we can help raise awareness of depression, anxiety and mental health.    The wellbeing of our staff is of the upmost importance to us at Blenheim and we pride ourselves on the initiatives that we provide to everyone, some of which also reach out to the local community. We offer Yoga, health checks and mindfulness courses and a free employee assistance confidential helpline for all staff which is available 24 hours a day.”

For more information on SANE and the Black Dog Campaign visit www.sane.org.uk

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Carter Jonas Brings Residential Development Site in Aston Tirrold, Oxfordshire, to Market

Carter Jonas has brought a 1.85 acre (0.75 ha) freehold development opportunity to the market in Aston Tirrold, Oxfordshire, on behalf of a private landowner. Lower Ham Farm consists of planning permission for eight new dwellings, the conversion of two listed barns together with an existing farmhouse.
 
The property is available as a whole, with alternative proposals for the purchase of part also considered (including the farmhouse in isolation).
 
Located to the east of Moreton Road, the property benefits from excellent transport links, via the A417, to the A34 and the national motorway network.
 
The village of Aston Tirrold offers a range of amenities including a village hall (with an outreach post office), cricket club, three churches and The Chequers public house. A Waitrose supermarket is located in nearby Wallingford and a full range of national retailers, restaurants and leisure facilities are available in Oxford and Newbury, which are 19 and 18 miles from the site respectively.
 
The local area benefits from a number of independent schools, including preparatory at Moulsford, Chandlings, Cranford House and Cothill. Senior schools include Radley, Abingdon, Downe House, The Oratory and St Helen & St Katherine.
 
Mark Charter, Partner, Carter Jonas Oxford said: “Lower Ham Farm offers an exciting development opportunity, in an ideal location, to create a unique and visually striking residential scheme. It is perfectly located for the region’s business, retail and leisure hubs, and many excellent schools. The property is also in close proximity to Didcot Parkway train station, which is just four miles away, as such it is also an ideal location to commute into London Paddington.  The site’s location and potential make it an extremely appealing proposition for those looking to benefit from easy transport links amidst the pure tranquillity of the Oxfordshire landscape.”
 
Unconditional offers are currently being sought. Further information and bidding guidance is available from Carter Jonas Oxford.

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Park and Ride Satisfaction

Park and Ride service achieves ‘outstanding’ passenger satisfaction

The Oxford Bus Company’s Park & Ride service has achieved a ‘world class’ 96% overall satisfaction, in a survey of passengers by an independent watchdog. This places it equal first in England alongside another operator.

Research conducted by Transport Focus revealed passengers using Oxford’s Park & Ride services were highly satisfied in 2018, up 3% on the previous year. Passengers were asked questions regarding punctuality, journey time, value for money and the overall journey experience.

Other Oxford Bus Company city services achieved a 92% overall satisfaction in the passenger survey, an improvement of 3% on the previous year.

The news follows significant investment in the Park & Ride service ahead of the opening of the Westgate shopping centre in 2017.

Improvements included the introduction of a single ticket solution to cover parking costs and bus fares, and new payment machines. New bus shelters and stops were also installed in the city centre- plus, the introduction of distinctive purple Park & Ride branding and new signage making it easier for passengers to identify their stops.

Oxford Bus Company also invested in training for its 80 Park & Ride staff to enable them to act as ambassadors for the shopping centre and Oxford.

Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, Phil Southall, said: “The Park & Ride service has gone from strength to strength, thanks to significant investment in the fleet and branding, along with improved timetables and colleague training.

“The service represents fantastic value for money for people visiting Oxford and is part our of pledge to help ensure a ‘world-class’ welcome to the city. We’re pleased with the Park & Ride results and the higher rating achieved reflects the hard work put in by our team to consistently maintain high standards.”

The Oxford Bus Company invested £4.5m in the fleet of Park & Ride buses in 2017. Each bus has free Wi-Fi, social seating layouts, audio visual next stop information systems, USB and conductive charging points and Euro VI micro-hybrid engines with the cleanest available vehicle emissions standards.

A further £1m was invested in rolling out contactless payment functionality to the fleet to make the boarding experience as frictionless as possible.

The Park & Ride single fare ticket, costs £6.80 and covers parking for one car plus two adults and three children travelling by bus.

Mr Southall added: “It’s pleasing to have improved in many areas overall for our customers. However, it’s vital we continue to strive for improvement and seek solutions in partnership with key stakeholders to the bigger challenges in the city.

“Our journey times have increased on many services due to worsening congestion in Oxford, which remains a real issue.”

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