Prop­erty com­pany that likes to walk qui­etly but car­ries a big stick

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE -

EV­ERY SUR­VEYOR knows the dan­gers of buy­ing prop­erty with your head rather than your heart but when Jeremy Nolan bought his new house six weeks ago he couldn’t help him­self.

“I should have bought some­thing that’s low to main­tain, or­derly and sen­si­ble,” he says. “This house was built in 1875 in the style of an alpine chalet.”

The home in Ilk­ley, where he lives with his wife, Anna, and three daugh­ters, age 14,11 and eight, fea­tured in the 1965 film Life at the Top, star­ring Lau­rence Har­vey and Honor Black­man.

“We went on­line and watched the film on YouTube,” he says. “The house hasn’t re­ally been touched since so we could clearly iden­tify all the rooms. I like stuff like that.”

Nolan, 46, who de­scribes him­self as ‘open-minded’ and ‘bloody-minded’, co-owns Glen­trool Es­tates Group, a busi­ness in­vest­ment and prop­erty com­pany which em­ploys six staff in Ilk­ley, with his brother, Paul.

It was es­tab­lished in 2001 and ran in par­al­lel with their trans­port busi­ness, As­so­ci­ated Trans­port Ser­vices (ATS) , which they built into the sec­ond largest City Link fran­chise in Bri­tain, with a £26m turnover, be­fore sell­ing it Ren­tokil Ini­tial in 2006.

Through Paul, who has a cor­po­rate back­ground, the com­pany in­vests in busi­nesses, which have in­cluded Ilk­ley Brew­ery, Oak­worth Join­ery and Char­ter­house Re­cruit­ment.

Jeremy, a sur­veyor, is in charge of the prop­erty side of the group, which owns of­fices and in­dus­trial build­ings across West and North York­shire, funded by Roth­schild.

It also has a £105m de­vel­op­ment site, Sher­burn 2, near Selby, which has the ca­pac­ity to cre­ate 1.25m sq ft of em­ploy­ment space and about 2,500 jobs.

The orig­i­nal Sher­burn site, which was de­vel­oped by a num­ber of com­pa­nies, is home to Deben­hams, Le­gal & Gen­eral Homes and bus builder Optare among oth­ers.

Glen­trool bought its first chunk of land, a for­mer ve­hi­cle test track, near the in­dus­trial es­tate 10 years ago and it has spent the last decade get­ting it ready for de­vel­op­ment.

“There was no ac­cess, no plan­ning and we couldn’t get va­cant pos­ses­sion from farm­ers,” says Nolan. “There were also 14 acres of land that we didn’t own so we had to buy that in. It took us six years to sort the prob­lems out on the site and get plan­ning.”

It also had to di­vert a wa­ter course, known as Bishop’s Dyke, to build a bridge, which took al­most three years to com­plete.

It has been a com­pli­cated process and now the pres­sure is on Nolan to per­suade busi­nesses to move there. “We now have a de­vel­op­ment site that is ready to go,” he says.

There is in­ter­est, he in­sists, for units rang­ing from 60,000 sq ft to 600,000 sq ft from sec­tors in­clud­ing dis­tri­bu­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing and even a ver­ti­cal farm (in­door food pro­duc­tion).

“We now need peo­ple to put their brass down and get on with it,” he says.

Glen­trool also has plans for a 32,000 sq ft re­tail de­vel­op­ment scheme in Os­sett, Wake­field, which was re­cently re­fused plan­ning per­mis­sion.

“There’s a ten­dency for prop­erty de­vel­op­ers to brag about how much land they have,” says Nolan.

“We’ve de­lib­er­ately not bought any more land be­cause we don’t need to but I don’t want that to be mis­con­strued as a lack of am­bi­tion.

“I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that who­ever we en­gage with pro­fes­sion­ally recog­nises that we can de­liver and we’re not de­vel­op­ers who get op­tions on 57 sites and pre­tend to own them. We walk qui­etly and carry a big stick.”

Born and brought up in Leeds, Nolan orig­i­nally wanted to be an ar­chi­tect but he ad­mits he ‘flunked’ his A-lev­els and stud­ied val­u­a­tion and es­tate man­age­ment at Bristol Polytech­nic.

He started his ca­reer at Dacre, Son & Hart­ley and then moved to Alder King in Bristol, work­ing in LPA re­ceiver­ships, be­fore re­turn­ing to York­shire at Ch­ester­ton in Leeds.

Nolan had a brief spell at Lam­bert Smith Hamp­ton be­fore be­ing poached by de­vel­op­ers Wilson Bow­den.

This was the spring­board he needed to launch Glen­trool at the age of 31.

“It was a leap of faith to start with an empty desk,” he says. “It’s quite hard to change from be­ing an agent to be­ing the client and for the busi­ness com­mu­nity to see that I wasn’t just a sur­veyor.”

It wasn’t the prospect of Leeds’s com­mer­cial prop­erty mar­ket that ini­tially lured Nolan back to God’s own coun­try, it was his love of rally driv­ing in North York­shire.

“Not to say my ca­reer wasn’t im­por­tant,” he says sheep­ishly, “but I came back to York­shire to get on with my ral­ly­ing.”

Nolan drives and his brother is his co-driver, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of their fa­ther who in­tro­duced them to the sport.

To­gether, the broth­ers have com­peted in about 140 events around the world. In 1997 they won a works drive in the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship for Volk­swa­gen.

“It’s what I re­ally love,” Nolan con­fides. “It’s such a mas­sive sin­gu­lar fo­cus that when you’re do­ing it, noth­ing else ex­ists.”

Glen­trool is even named af­ter one of his favourite rally driv­ing forests in Scot­land.

“I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck 20 years on,” he says.

The pair were com­mit­ted to the sport be­tween 1997 and 2010 but had to take a step back when chil­dren came along. “It’s quite a self­ish sport,” he adds.

Nolan took up cy­cling to fill the void rally driv­ing left but now he is in­spir­ing the next gen­er­a­tion.

He plans to build a car with his el­dest daugh­ter who wants to take part in the Hare­wood Hill climb. “It’s a great sport, it’s fab­u­lous,” he says.

It was a leap of faith to start with an empty desk. It’s quite hard to change from be­ing an agent to be­ing the client and for the busi­ness com­mu­nity to see that I wasn’t just a sur­veyor. Jeremy Nolan, di­rec­tor of Glen­trool Es­tates

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