Robert Alston - Commercial Property Consultants and Chartered Surveyors - Cambridge

Services Offered


Relocating an existing business or finding premises for a new start-up is a time consuming and confusing process. Time is money and whilst your executive team is busy running a business in what is a challenging economic time they can even less afford the time to research an ever-changing market.

We are here to help! With local knowledge and experience of negotiating both leasehold and freehold acquisitions Robert Alston can give timely advice as to the best options available and effectively filter your requirements down to an agreed short-list.

Inspections can be arranged only on those that match the needs so less time is wasted and negotiations then opened.

Robert has an impressive track-record of successful acquisitions of both existing and bespoke buildings where everything begins with a green field site.

Clients can be advised fully so that all costs are known; including business rates, service charges, insurance premiums, repair and re-instatement liabilities quantified so that accurate budgets can be set.

Timely advice can be given regarding fit-out requirements and space planning so that properties can be adapted or configured to meet specific needs in the minimum time and at the best price.

Sales & Lettings

With property accounting as the third highest overhead after wages and materials in a manufacturing business and as the second highest cost in the majority of service industries disposing of surplus premises can be essential if a company is to survive and prosper.

Accurate valuation advice and good local market knowledge are therefore essential pre-requisites to any successful marketing campaign. Robert Alston provides both and results speak for themselves.


All organisations, large or small need an efficient and forward thinking stategy as part of their business ethos and this must include its future premises needs particlarly given the lead times involved in new development and the knock-on effects if premises occupied by the business involves compromise.

We try to ensure that at all times clients are in occupation of the right premises, in the right location, on the right terms at the right time and this is where stategic consultancy comes in. Easily over-looked it is nevertheless essential if efficiency is to be optimised.

Rent Reviews

With values changing all the time how can a tenant as a lay person possibly know what is the fair market rent at any time without professional advice? Here again we can help.

Through constant exposure and from a database of historic lease terms relating to a diversity of properties we can maintain a picture of where the market is going sector by sector and month by month.

Our fees are modest when set against the cost of a mistake. With 5 years being typically the interval between rent reviews, an error of £2,000 per annum rapidly becomes £10,000. Fine if the error is in your favour, not so fine if it is not.

A £2,000 fee in this context might be worth it just for peace of mind. Negotiation is a skill and it can become an art as valuation is after all an in-exact science. All the more so when it involves understanding landlord and tenant law, interpretation of leases (what really was the intention of the parties?), basis of measurement, and subjective assessment as to just how comparable is the rental evidence put forward by the other side.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that the majority of rent review negotiations are settled amicably but where they do not, we have experience to take a disputed case to arbitration or to an independent expert.

Lease renewal negotiations are similar to rent review negotiations but here other terms in the lease can be up for review as well. The difference is that the tenant can walk away if agreement cannot be reached. Again we have years of experience to help secure the best outcome for clients.


Whilst we do not provide valuations for loan security purposes and are not on any of the valuation panels used by the major lending institutions valuation advice comes practically into every facet of the work we undertake.

If a client is faced with a rent review next year it is useful to offer a projection of what that rent might be. Similarly, if a client is looking to sub-lease surplus space in a building, before doing so it is useful to know how much rent that might generate.

Valuations can also be given for insurance purposes and for the discharge of re-instatement or dilapidations.

Rating Advice

Business Rates is a tax which is payable by all occupiers of commercial premises. The Rateable Value is linked to the market rent and can be subject to change for a variety of reasons.

Changes of occupier, change of use, sub-letting of part and demolition all can give rise to new assessments, these are in addition to the 5 yearly review of the whole Rating List which is due to be updated in April 2017.

With Business Rates typically being 40% or more of the rent being paid at any one time, ensuring that the tax is being correctly assessed is vital. We can advise clients as required and submit appeals to amend assessments which appear to be incorrect or wrongly charged.

Robert Alston – Commercial Property Consultants, Chartered Surveyors, Cambridge UK