One of Northern Ireland’s “best” farms is being sold to fund the purchase of a Cheshire dairy unit.

Victor McNaugher paid just over £2m for 236-acre Northwoods Farm at Audlem, which was auctioned by Wright Manley on 31 June.

His 136-acre beef farm outside Coleraine, Co Londonderry, is on the market for a similar figure and will go under the hammer with auctioneer R Benson & Son on 8 September.

The firm’s Columb Henry said the property, incliuding a five-bed house and buildings for 300 beef cows, should attract interest from farmers with non-farming money to spend.

“There hasn’t been anything of this size sold for a long time.”

Land prices in the province ranged from £6000/acre for average quality soil to over £10,000/acre for the best, said Mr Henry.

“There is little land available and an awful lot has been sold for development for anything from £700,000 to £800,000/acre.”

High land values at home were the main reason he had decided to move to England, said Mr McNaugher.

“It was a big decision but I’ve got three sons and we have to expand to give them a chance in farming.

With the [land] prices we’re seeing here there’s no chance of expansion.”

Land agents on the UK mainland are reporting a steady increase in interest from buyers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Last week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors went so far as to claim the influx was partly behind the record levels seen by its latest price survey.