As the first signs of a dip in the market for some properties show, a large area of prime Norfolk land looks set to attract lots of interest.

Such is the interest in Ickburgh Manor Farm already, it seems to be heading for the sort of competitive sale that the best farms are still expected to find.

The 640-acre block in west Norfolk is quite different from the impressive estates launched in the county last week. It has been growing vegetables including carrots, onions, parsnips and sugar beet, as well as wheat and barley, on irrigated sand.

“There has been substantial local interest,” said Christopher Miles of Savills‘ Norwich office. “There have been no commercial farms of this type on the market, and it is profitable.” Mr Miles said it would appeal to farming firms wanting to balance out peat land in their portfolio.

A significant source of income – £210,000 a year – comes from four duck-rearing units, let to Gressingham Foods until 2030. The five-year rent reviews are upwards only. The estate also lets land for specialist crops and, recently, outdoor pigs.

The vendor has owned Ickburgh for five years and had planned to live there, but family commitments in other parts of Norfolk are understood to have prevented this. He might retain the shooting if a purchaser was willing, Mr Miles said.

ickburgh manor farm 
There has already been substantial interest in Ickburgh Manor Farm.

There is planning consent for a large house, but the land on which this applies would have to be negotiated separately. Planning permission for a new farmyard, including grain buildings and office, is included.

Savills has priced the farm “competitively” and is looking for £3.125m for the main block of 594 acres, which is less than £5300/acre, and more than £1.85m for the duck units on 44 acres.

Despite the gloomy outlook of Smiths Gore’s latest update to its land price model, competition will still be the key to successful sales.

September figures revealed an unexpected revival in the market, but the increased volume would affect values, the firm said. It predicted a short-term downturn before prices resumed their upward trend. “Our forecast is for prices to fall 9% to an average £7300/acre by the start of 2009,” said Jason Beedell, head of research.

A 2400-acre Norfolk estate is thought to have just changed hands privately. Selling agent Savills would not disclose details, but local sources said its substantial assets could have pushed the price to about £25m.