By Olivia Cooper
South-west correspondent SOUTH-WEST land agents are lining up to launch a number of properties after a quiet first quarter of the year.
One of the first substantial farms to be offered in the region this year is Bradford Manor at Pyworthy, near Holsworthy, Devon. The 374-acre mixed unit with a five-bedroom farmhouse is an unusually large ring-fenced farm for the area and has both modern and traditional outbuildings, with planning permission to convert some old stables into a three-bedroom holiday cottage.
Owners Sam and Lynne Johnson plan to return to farm in East Anglia to be closer to their grandchildren and hope to complete by September.
The land is sown to 200 acres of feed wheat and barley, with 150 acres of permanent pasture including 50 acres of water meadows alongside the river Tamar. This is in a countryside stewardship scheme along with some old orchards, bringing in a total income of 6500 a year.
Some new woodland yields 700 a year under the farm woodland premium scheme, and 28 acres of mature woodland offer the potential for a shoot. There is also 2500 yards of single bank fishing on the river Tamar.
“There are not too many ring-fenced 374-acre farms available in this area – this really is quite rare,” said Stags” Gordon Millar. “It is a good genuine stock and arable farm and is the size that many people are looking for.” With a guide of 1.2m, Mr Millar reckoned the farm would attract more wealthy home-county buyers than local interest.
Another Stags offering is Springwater Farm, Bridford, Devon, a 114-acre smallholding with an agriculturally tied four-bedroom bungalow and a range of covered yards, guided at 675,000.
Strutt & Parker has a number of farms due on the market in mid-April, including 118 acres of bare land near Lamerton, Devon. Guided at 300,000 the land will be sold by informal tender. “There hasn”t been a lot of bare land available, we are anticipating quite a bit of demand for it,” said agent James Baker.
SINGLE FARM payment rules could make farm and land transfers more complicated, say property agents and consultants.
Farmers claiming SFP must have all land on which their claims are being based at their disposal for 10 months of the year. Only one start date is allowed for their entire holding, except for land held in different regions like Scotland and Wales.
The start of this 10-month period is nominated on the SP5 claim form for the SFP and can be any date between Oct 1 and Apr 30 in the year before making the claim. If no date is chosen the Rural Payments Agency, which administers the scheme, will automatically use Feb 1.
Although this will not be an issue for those who have no intention of changing the size of their business it could create problems for vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants when transferring land, especially if each party had chosen a different start date for their holding, said Steve Hollis of Aubourn, agent Savills” agribusiness division.
The vendor, or landlord, could lose payments if they transferred land after claiming SFP but before their 10-month period had expired. And the buyer or incoming tenant would not be able to claim if the newly acquired land had a start date later than their own, he said.
One exception is if an entire holding is being transferred, said Mr Hollis. “In the first year the new owner can claim the SFP even if the start date is different, but after that the dates will have to be the same.”
Retiring tenants would also need to make sure they had satisfied the 10-month rule to claim the SFP in their final year of occupation, he added.
Learning to cope with the new 10-month rule will mean that completion dates have to be considered more carefully, said Jim Bryant of Cambridge-based Bidwells. “Even for fairly simple transactions it is something we will have to bear in mind.”
Mr Bryant said it made sense for arable farmers to choose as early a start date as possible because it fitted in best with cereal cropping systems and sales already often included a holdover period to allow the vendor to harvest their crops. “But God knows how vegetable growers with lots of short-term rental agreements will sort it out,” he added.