It is encouraging to report that the New Year has got off to a firm and positive start in North Yorkshire.

We placed 144 acres of arable land at Morton Grange Farm, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, on the market over the Christmas/New Year period.

This was guided at offers in the region of 2000-3000/acre.

A sale has already been negotiated successfully for the whole, within the guide price area, subject to contract.

We have also just been instructed to place a 42-acre block of arable land adjacent to the A1 Trunk Road just south of Bedale, with a guide price of 2750/acre.

This is a prime block of free-working land which will also grow sugar beet and potatoes.

In general, commercial blocks of land have been selling remarkably well.

In 2005 we sold well over 700 acres in various blocks from 15 to 150 acres to average in the region of 3000/acre.

The market for small blocks of land, particularly if they are within walking distance of a village adjoining a residential property, is very good indeed.

The prices for amenity land and pony paddocks can vary anywhere from 5000 to 15,000/acre.

The market for commercial farms has been good, buoyed by a lack of supply.

Undoubtedly the shortage is partially due to the uncertainty created by the delay in the introduction of the single farm payment scheme, particularly when entitlements have still not been definitively established.

The market for smallholdings and small farms that have a significant residential appeal is still very good indeed.

We launched Sutton Bank Farm, Sutton Bank, a 29-acre farm near Thirsk, at the beginning of January with a guide price of 600,000.

We have had a remarkable level of interest, bearing in mind the time of year, and a sale has just been negotiated to a cash buyer.
There is no doubt that the lifestyle buyer is creating the running for this type of small farm.

This will continue to be the case for the less viable farms because rural North Yorkshire is so well placed in relation to the conurbations of York, Leeds, Teesside and Tyneside, all of which are within one hour’s commuting.

It is pleasing to report that there is a very good demand for rural development properties.

Interestingly we have just been instructed to place the former abattoir at West Tanfield, Ripon, on the market.

This is going to auction on the 28 February.

The site has planning permission for two detached residential dwellings and is being guided at offers in the region of 200,000-250,000.

It is sad that yet another small abattoir has had to close, a combination of the aftermath of foot-and-mouth and too much regulation.

There is no doubt that the commercial farmland market will be considerably assisted when the Rural Payments Agency has notified farmers and landowners of their entitlements.

This will enable the whole industry to move forward with more certainty.

This should bring a much more even and steady flow of farms and land on to the market.

It will be interesting to see whether this occurs and what effect it will have on the supply of land and farms in 2006.

There are still significant funds available for the right farm in a good location in North Yorkshire.