8 March 1996

Arable biggie seeks £1.75m

By Louise Rose

FARMERS profiting from recently strong potato prices might add to any buying competition for probably the largest commercial arable unit to be marketed since 1992 in Herefordshire.

Including 495.38 acres, Marley Hall Farm, near Ledbury, is currently managed on a cereal rotation, although the grade 2 red siltstone soil offers the potential for more diverse cropping.

Guided at £1.75m for the whole, Tony Morris-Eyton of selling agents Knight Frank values the bare land at around £3000/acre. "The farm will be an interesting barometer of the markets strength," he said.

The last commercial arable unit of this scale sold publicly was Hill of Eaton Farm, near Ross-on-Wye – a 722-acre unit which achieved a figure in the region of £1.25m in 1993.

The farm buildings at Marley Hall include grain storage for 1500t and a former pea vining shed which could be converted into a potato store. With the five-bedroomed house there is also a staff flat currently occupied by a former farm employee.

Appealing to both the national and local markets the farm has also been lotted – the main farm steading with 330.65 acres and the remaining 164.73 acres and a general purpose building, although no individual guide prices are offered.

Adopting a commercial view of the market, the vendor hopes to sell now taking advantage of current land prices and aims to buy a larger unit in the future when prices have eased.

Nearer Hereford a dairy and arable unit will be auctioned in four lots by agents Knight Frank and David A Thompson in late April unless previously sold as a whole by private treaty.

Mainly eligible for arable area aid the 399.64 acres at Hollington Farm, Holme Lacy, are split by a road into two main blocks with the farmstead and 188.98 acres to the west and on the east the remaining arable land and meadows.

Guided at £830,000, lot one includes 188.98 acres, the farmhouse (six-bed), three cottages, the farm buildings with facilities for the 100-cow dairy herd, some grain storage and 560,000 litres of milk quota. The land is a grade 2 and 3 medium loam, currently cropped as part of a whole farm rotation of wheat, barley and grass leys.

Mainly arable land with river frontage lot two includes 132.19 acres of alluvial silt and is guided at around £2232/acre. Valued at £150,000 (£2224/acre), lot three is a single 67.46-acre block of arable land and the remaining 11.01 acres (£2271/acre) include a former railway embankment.

Also in April over the county line in Shropshire, agents Halls are auctioning Rossall Heath Farm, Bicton, near Shrewsbury – a 125-acre mixed unit, guided between £400-450,000. Although all down to grass, 74 acres are eligible for arable area aid, and the buildings include 16,000sq ft of stock housing. &#42

Lying within the Severn River Authority exception from control area, water abstraction at Marley Hall Farm is permitted without licence or charge.