Two large, commercial arable farms in Northumberland are about to come to the market, marking a departure from the residential estates seen in the county last year.
Although one of these farms will look familiar to eagle-eyed readers of this page – the Hettons Estate, which is being sold by Strutt & Parker, is the arable portion of the 6000-acre Hettons and Hortons Estate marketed by the firm last year.
Repackaged and brought to the market in a different format, it nevertheless represents an unusually attractive opportunity for a buyer wanting to farm for profit.
The Hettons Estate, as it now comes to the market, is a 3250-acre arable farm with grain drying and storage for 5000t and five farm steadings with various agricultural buildings. It lies between the Cheviot Hills and Northumberland’s fertile coastal plain. There are 255 acres of pastureland and 1802 acres of woodland.
But conspicuous by its absence is the grand country house one might expect with a 3000-acre estate – although there are two farmhouses and four cottages – throwing the Hettons Estate’s agricultural credentials into sharp relief.
Essentially, the arable side of the estate had been repackaged to appeal to a wider market, said Strutt & Parker’s Claire Whitfield. “The livestock unit is not now on the market and there are only six houses included in the sale, of which one is a farmhouse with vacant possession. There are five steadings incorporating 5000t of grain storage on concrete floors and in bins, plus a small drier.”
The land has been cultivated through ploughing and minimum-tillage cultivations across the estate, which has predominantly been in combineable crops, although there was an annual let for seed potato production.
Mrs Whitfield said a good proportion of the land was irrigated and enough was of sufficient quality to support potato growing that the estate had avoided cropping the same parcel of land for seven years. “There is also a large pond used for water abstraction, which is fed by a local burn.”
Various woodland shelter belts and steep, small valleys meant the Hettons Estate had great sporting appeal, too. Shooting was let until the end of next season, Mrs Whitfield said.
Hettons and Hortons, a Northumberland estate just short of 6000 acres, forms part of the much larger Lilburn Estate (the third-highest Single Farm Payment recipient in the country) owned by property developer Duncan Davidson.
The 3250-acre Hettons Estate is guided at £16m for the whole, which valued the land at about £4750/acre, Mrs Whitfield said.
Strutt & Parker is also selling New Barns Farm near Warkworth, jointly with local agent Youngs. New Barns is a productive, 275-acre arable farm with 20 acres of permament pasture, a four-bedroom period farmhouse and a farm shop.
It has grown potatoes, winter wheat, barley and oilseed rape, although it was previously run as a dairy unit. Soil types are Dundeswick and Kearby and have regularly returned 4t/acre for first wheats. There has also been some seed potato production.
There is a range of modern and traditional farm buildings, and the older structures have consent for use as a restaurant or farm kitchen. They were formerly used as an award-winning farm shop and cafe.
New Barns Farm is guided at £2.2m as a whole.
Hettons Estate cropping 2009/10
- Winter oilseed rape (704) acres
- Winter wheat (667) acres
- Winter barley (818) acres
- Spring barley (72 acres)
- Silage is made on 112 acres