What do our members say?

Thinking of joining us? See how we've helped our members

Tapping into expertise

Eileen Harte joined the CLA after hearing a presentation on planning by CLA Head of Planning Fenella Collins at the Glamping Show in 2018. Eileen had been looking to buy a farm for her thoroughbred stud business and once she found her ideal location, she quickly realised that she could tap into the expertise of the CLA. CLA Regional Surveyor Claire Wright helped Eileen on a range of planning matters as she looked to change the use of farm buildings from agricultural to equestrian use. Eileen also sought advice on a variety of other landownership topics – everything from tree planting and rewilding to septic tanks and broadband issues.

“I had not heard of the CLA before the Glamping Show, and I was so impressed with all the services it offered,” said Eileen.

“We had so many questions that the CLA team was able to help us with as we progressed with the purchase of the farm. The Association has always been extremely helpful and I have also found the CLA website to be so useful as it has often answered my questions without having to contact anyone.”


Honing business plans

Forage Farm Shop and Kitchen is a new exciting enterprise for Tom Homfray.

“We wanted to introduce an outlet for fresh, high-quality, artisan, seasonal food-products – governed by sustainable principles, championing Welsh food.”

It sits within the 2,500-acre Penllyn Estate in the agricultural heartland of the Vale of Glamorgan. Estate owner Tom’s father John has played a prominent role in the CLA while managing and diversifying

a successful agricultural estate, introducing a large composting business, storage, residential and commercial lettings, and several other non-agricultural businesses.

“My father’s shared his business visions and expertise with likeminded people,” Tom explains. In contributing to the CLA’s committees and as trustee of the CLA Charitable Trust, John’s inspired many and honed his own business plans.

“My vision for the Forage Farm Shop is for it to be a destination - held in high regard for loyal customers and visitors alike. We want to support local producers – we know their goods are fresh. We admire and appreciate quality, added-value, originality and speciality - and we want to enjoy the process of selection. We want to know more about ingredients and how things are made – we even want the best ingredients for our cuisine.

“We faced the challenge of launching during the Covid-19 crisis, but it’s confirmed our faith in how people value local, high quality produce – and feel safe and secure in the environment we’ve been able to create.”

TOM HOMFRAY Vale of Glamorgan

Securing financial support

Cumbria-based CLA members Kate and Malcolm Donald initially joined the CLA at The Farm Innovation Show, thinking it would benefit them with their plans to diversify Blaithwaite House by expanding their camping and glamping offering. The attraction was that they’d be able to access planning and expert advice to help them in setting up successfully. Kate and Malcolm, along with everyone in the tourism and hospitality sector, were severely impacted by the pandemic, which brought unprecedented financial difficulties and government restrictions. However, the CLA’s ongoing support, advice and actions have had a positive effect on their business.

Malcolm said: “We want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to CLA Rural Adviser Libby Bateman who listened, was always available and quick to respond. She championed our circumstances as a test case directly with the British Business Bank and Westminster politicians, which resulted in changing the rollout of the CBILS scheme and Bounce Back loans. A huge victory not only for us but businesses in general.”

Kate added: “The CLA has been a great asset to us, a guiding hand, an ear to listen, and a team fighting our corner. They have been all they said they would be and more.

“A huge and very heartfelt thank you to you from our family and team at Blaithwaite House, and we look forward to many more years of partnership with the CLA. Amidst this year’s challenges, we’re on track with our expansion plans for 2021.”


"We are members of a great many different organisations, and I can say with absolute certainty that the CLA has been the best at keeping us informed and for interacting with us throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Even before that, I felt well-supported by the CLA as we looked to the future of rural support payments and the impacts for us of legislative and regulatory changes including the Agriculture and Environment Bills.

"Land managers are facing a period of unprecedented uncertainty and we need the CLA to be passing our concerns to government and feeding back to us what they have discussed with policymakers. At a time when many of us are ‘zoomed out’, we nevertheless value how we have been able to speak with all levels of the CLA and to use well organised webinars to guide us through the fog that covers the policy landscape.


A guide through the pandemic

Michael Gurney runs a residential and commercial portfolio on the family farm. When Covid-19 hit, he contacted the CLA for advice on how to interpret new and constantly changing legislation introduced to protect tenants during the pandemic. CLA East Regional Surveyor Alison Provis, together with CLA Senior Legal Adviser Harry Flanagan, helped Michael navigate his way through and ensure his residential portfolio continued to be managed in an efficient manner whilst being understanding of the tenants’ circumstances.

Michael said: “Covid-19 has hit us all in many different ways, and it has been reassuring during this turbulent time to have the voice of the CLA speaking up for farmers, landowners and rural businesses.

“With the fast-paced changes we have seen in legislation brought about by the pandemic, it has been of great value to be a CLA member and to know there is a wealth of knowledge and expertise at the end of the phone to help guide us. I also watched the webinar series the CLA produced across the summer, which has undoubtedly helped shape our planning for the future. I regard the CLA as a highly trusted and knowledgeable adviser who is ensuring the continued sustainability of farming businesses such as ours.”


Advice on managing woodland

Edward Earnshaw contacted the CLA seeking advice regarding felling some conifer trees on his land, which were adjacent to both an A-road and anumber ofpark homes. He spoke with CLA South West Rural Surveyor Claire Wright and was given advice regarding the measures involved in felling the trees, advice on woodland grants for future planting and details of General Permitted Development Order applied to forestry operations. He also received further advice from Senior Legal Adviser Roger Tetlow regarding the right to light for the neighbouring park homes.

Edward said: “The ability to quickly, easily and simply gain a great depth and breadth of knowledge in a particular area makes the CLA a superb asset to have on one’s side.

“For this project I was able to gain a great level of understanding of everything from traffic management requirements through to finding out if neighbouring properties had a right to light if the current status quo altered. “Being able to speak to a single point of contact who could then provide answers or expertise in the right areas is also of great value in an age of increasingly anonymous call centres. All of this made dealing with contractors and our own team much more efficient.”

EDWARD EARNSHAW, Gloucestershire