29 September 1995

Arable aid bonus with grass farm

UNUSUALLY, a 548-acre downland farm in West Sussex, although eligible for arable area aid, is currently managed as a grassland unit.

Entered into a 10-year management agreement under the South Downs ESA in 1992, although terminable after five years, the land at Erringham Farm, near Shoreham-by-Sea, is let to a local farmer on an 11-month grazing licence.

The agreement and tenancy currently generate an annual income of £70,000.

Peppercorn rent

About 173 acres of the grade 3 land are leased at an annual peppercorn rent of £11.50 from Adur District Council on a 999-year lease with 965 years remaining.

With an agriculturally tied five-bedroomed farmhouse, a semi-detached cottage, ranges of modern and traditional livestock and arable buildings including around 1000t of grain storage, Erringham Farm is guided at £1.25m by agent Mark McAndrew of Strutt & Parker.

Also generating an income from outside the boundaries of commercial farming is the recently marketed 420-acre Dower House Farm Estate, near Lewes in East Sussex.

With only 115 acres of the unit eligible for arable area aid, most of the 256 acres of permanent pasture are entered into two separate Countryside Stewardship contracts generating £12,000 annually.

Workshop complexes

However, the estate includes three craft workshop complexes totalling about 24,500 sq ft with a total five-year average net income in excess of £80,000 pa. Some cottages let on assured shorthold tenancies also generate additional income.

The estate as a whole is guided at in excess of £2.5m although it is lotted in up to 14 separate units too, by Strutt and Parker. Lot 1 – Dower House Farm with a £750,000 guide price, includes the main six-bedroomed house, a single block of 202.40 acres of arable, grass and woodland, modern farm buildings and some craft workshops averaging a net annual income of more than £20,000.