3 August 2001

Arable unit Staffs benchmark

A COMPACT arable unit will be a good benchmark for a dry Staffs land market, reckons South & Stubbs Mike Williams.

"We were originally due to bring Pillaton Farm on the market in mid-March, but a nearby farm was infected with foot-and-mouth so we had to wait until movement restrictions were lifted before going ahead."

Pillaton, near Penkridge, which is being jointly marketed with Hinson Parry, extends to 200 acres and has been split four ways. Mr Williams is guiding 180 acres of IACS-registered land, which has grown potatoes and sugar beet, at £400,000-450,000, but is unsure how much it will eventually go for.

"This time last year I would have been confident of getting the asking price, but after a bad winter and with the poor returns from farming I am holding my breath. So far this season there has been nothing to compare it to."

An 8-bedroomed house in need of some modernisation is valued at £250,000-270,000, a further 20-acre parcel of land is available for £50,000, and 55 acres of woodland, on a 999 lease to the Forestry Commission, is priced at £10,000-20,000.

Over the border in Cheshire, Wright Manley has just launched a 98-acre dairy unit that agent John Lewis says will also be a good tester for a market that has been dead since F&M. "Nothing has been sold recently so we are somewhat feeling our way."

Unlike other recent dairy offerings, he says the sale of Topwood Farm, Threapwood, Malpas, has not been delayed by F&M. "Some of our sales had to be put on hold but this is an entirely fresh instruction."

However, the disposal could be part of a growing trend predicts Mr Lewis. "The current owner doesnt think the future looks too bright and has decided to realise his asset and pursue another career.

"I think more farms will start coming on the market once the worst of F&M is over and people consider changing direction." But he also adds that demand is still strong from local farmers and residential purchasers.

"Until recently I would have expected a property like this to go to a farmer, but now the house could sell separately with the grassland going to a nearby dairy operation."

Mr Lewis is guiding the entire property at £750,000. The house, buildings and 17.5 acres are available for £550,000, while the balance of the pasture is being valued at £2000-3000/acre. &#42