24 May 2002

Cambs acres leading east in selling quest

By Catherine Paice

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, with around 8000 acres currently for sale, is the frontrunner as the eastern counties land market leaps into the limelight this week with at least a further 5000 new acres looking for buyers.

With no residential angle, Holwood Farm, near Chatteris, will be an especially good test of demand in the county. Consisting of 986 acres of mainly Grade 1, silty soil and 1000t of potato and 1200t of grain storage, Brown and Cos Jim Major is guiding it at £2.6m.

This represents an average of just over £2600/acre, well down on the £3000/acre plus it would have made five years ago. However, despite the increase in land availability, Mr Major denies he is being cautious. "Realistic is how I would describe it. I am watching and waiting but I am not nervous yet.

"If twice as much land came up for sale that would test the market. But if there was going to be a big dash I think we would have seen it at the beginning of May."

Holwood is barely half of the land farmed by the vendor, but it is understood that his purchase of the farm as a sitting tenant of British Steel has led to an unrivalled opportunity to reorganise and refinance his business.

Retirement

Split between Cambs and Norfolk, Brown & Co is also selling the 1400-acre Kilham Estate. On the market for £4m due to the imminent retirement of some members of the Kilham family, trading as Fen Farming Company Ltd, the holding consists of four farms.

For sheer quality, Bank & Teakettle Farms, Thorney, north Cambs, ranks top, with 609 acres of productive root land and centre pivot irrigation (56.5m gal abstraction licence, 43m gal reservoir under construction).

With a variety of buildings – a farmhouse, barn for conversion, cottage for renovation and extensive buildings in two yards – the farm is being offered in four lots, with the land and farm buildings again guided at just over £2650/acre. The farmhouse is in at £300,000.

Nearby Knarr Farm is 353 acres of straight commercial land suitable for combinable crops with a guide price of £770,000. At Kings Lynn, west Norfolk, Estuary Farm has just over 100 acres of good silt and the added bonus of some development potential. Outside the towns development zone but literally next to the last industrial shed it is guided at £3600/acre.

Bare land

Further up the road towards Wootton, Railway Farm offers 336 acres of bare land for about £2300/acre.

At 1692 acres, the Amcotts Estate, near Scunthorpe, Lincs, available from FPDSavills, stands out for being the biggest warped farm to come to the market for a great many years and also as a potential site for a wind farm.

Its irrigated soils, farmed by the same family since 1890, are derived from the practice of warping, or flooding the land along the banks of the Humber and tidal Lower Trent in the latter part of the 19th century. Deposits of marine and alluvial sediments formed new layers of rich soil, giving the land similar qualities to that found around Boston or Spalding.

As one of five holdings currently targeted by Renewable Energy Systems as suitable for a wind farm, planning consent could lead to an extra £60,000 a year in rental income, according to selling agent Andrew Pearce.

With a farmhouse, three cottages and two ranges of modern buildings, the estate is guided at £4.5m (£2660/acre). &#42