22 June 2001

Dairy units ripple surface

DESPITE signs that foot-and-mouth is on the wane the dairy market remains quiet. However, two similarly priced grassland units in Wilts and Surrey have just become available.

In both cases there is a strong residential element and the agents concerned say it is doubtful if the farms will stay in milk production once sold.

Oaklands Park and Ivyhouse Farm, Newdigate, Surrey is being launched this week by Strutt & Parker and Monkhouse and Bannisters with a price tag of £2.2m.

The 320-acre holding has been divided into eight lots and S&Ps Mark McAndrew says the most likely outcome will be for residential buyers to take control of the two grade 2-listed farmhouses, with any surplus land going to neighbouring farmers.

"With its proximity to London, Surrey is considered a highly desirable area to live and given the uncertainty in the milk business it seems unlikely that a dairy farmer would want to take on the entire unit."

In the Cotswolds, John D Wood has just brought Maplesale and Gospel Oak Farm, near Minety, Wilts, on to to the market, and again agent Nicholas Hextall has lotted the 395-acre Cotswold property to appeal to buyers looking for a house surrounded by its own parcel of land.

"Although I have great faith that dairying will survive the current crisis I suspect this farm will end up as a small sporting estate," he says.

However, with a modern 20:20 herringbone parlour and reed bed slurry purification system there is a lot on offer for the dairy farmer. "It is not inconceivable that the dwellings will go separately and somebody buys the milk parlour, buildings and land," he notes.

The asking price for the farm is £2.7m and this includes a six-bedroomed principal dwelling, a secondary 4-bed farmhouse and three smaller houses. The main house comes with a separate cottage and 223 acres, and Mr Hextall says there is potential for a further split if required. &#42