1 March 2002

Ballathie to kick start Scotlands sales year

By Andrew Shirley

SCOTLANDS selling season has got off to an earlier than usual start with the launch of the £4.5m, 1300-acre Ballathie Estate, near Perth.

Properties north of the border tend not to come on stream until May or June, but David Strang-Steel, of selling-agent Strutt & Parkers Banchory office, reckons this may be changing. "Timing is not the issue it was 10 years ago; the winters here are certainly not as bad as they used to be. We didnt see much point in waiting."

Given the dearth of quality farms on last years market, the firm may have a point in releasing an early offering to stimulate demand from land-starved buyers looking for a conveniently located slice of Scotland. Especially as properties with such diverse attributes as Ballathie have tended to be few and far between recently.

The estate combines a good residential portfolio, generating an annual income of £37,000, with a 659-acre chunk of arable farmland, almost half of which is Grade 2, and some varied sporting and conservation opportunities.

Interestingly, the sale is on a lock-stock-and-barrel basis and includes two pedigree Aberdeen Angus and Charolais herds bred from stock supplied in 1999 by renowned cattle breeder Neil Massie.

"The owner really wants somebody to step into his footsteps," says Mr Strang-Steel. "Over the last three years he has put a huge amount of effort and capital into creating what is now a showpiece lowland estate."

There are almost 370 acres of mixed woodland which, along with five duck flighting ponds, form the basis for 12 days of let shooting. Three weeks of fishing rights on the River Tay are available for an additional £120,000.

Environmental concerns have also been high on the agenda for the current owner, a Scottish businessman, and the entire estate is covered by a five-year integrated conservation plan which incorporates a 108-acre site of special scientific interest and a significant amount of hedgerow replanting.

What Ballathie does lack, which the agent admits could deter some buyers, is a large principal dwelling. However, planning permission is in place to substantially expand Balmains House, originally constructed in 1890 as a dower house for the estate.

But, given the estates proximity to Edinburgh, he still expects plenty of demand. "I cant think of anything similar to this that has been available in Perthshire for the last five years." &#42

The Ballathie Estate, near Perth, kicks off this years Scottish farmland market.