19 January 2001

Devon acres aplenty to come as trend stays…

By Andrew Shirley

PLENTY of Devon acres are likely to be marketed this year, confirming the recent trend. Over the past few years large volumes of land have been offered and in 2000 over 15,000 acres, or 35% of the total for the south-west, came up for sale, according to FPDSavills. Three local agents are now entering the January market.

Unusually, two of the offerings are well over 300 acres, a comparative rarity in a county where holdings tend to be more compact. The 340-acre Warson Barton Farm near Tavistock is one of the largest farms to come on the market for some time, says David Kivell of selling agent Kivells.

Although the farms includes 143 acres of IACS-registered land and a modern range of buildings, its proximity to the A30 and a six-bedroomed house means it should attract plenty of residential interest. There is an additional two-bedroomed barn conversion and planning consent for further conversion of outbuildings into five residential units. The farm will be sold at public auction on Mar 15 and is guided at £800,000.

Mr Kivell expects selling activity to be up on last year. But high levels of demand mean values are likely to remain firm. "I have recently had enquiries from six buyers each with over £1m to spend," he comments.

Another large farm up for sale is the 500-acre Higher Hendham Estate soon to be re-launched by Luscombe Maye Hands Hughes and Marchand Pettit. The estate, near Kingsbridge, has previously been on the market with FPDSavills who were aiming to sell it as a whole or in three substantial lots.

But Stuart Hext, at Luscombe Maye Hands Hughes, says the farm will now be offered in 10 lots. 428 acres of arable land could be further subdivided to suit potential purchasers. Guide prices have yet to be confirmed.

Mr Hext does not think there will be a big increase in the number of whole farms on the market this year but expects producers to realise their assets by releasing off-blocks and barns for conversion. "Farmers in the area are tremendously proud and would sell only as a last resort," he says.

A more typical Devon farm has just become available with Gordon Vick and Partners. Thorneycroft Farm, Sourton, Okehampton, is a 110-acre dairy unit, run commercially for 18 years by the present owners who are now retiring. Guided at £350,000, Thorneycroft features a modern farmhouse and is close to Dartmoor but only one mile from the A30.

Convenient transport links are vital to attract residential purchasers, says the firms David Gordon Vick. "As you go further south properties definitely become trickier to market."

He believes demand will continue to absorb supply especially for smaller blocks of land. "There seem to be plenty of buyers with £20,000 in their pockets ready to snap up a few acres," he says, adding that grade 3 non-IACS registered land has been making up to £2000/acre.

Warson Barton Farm, near Tavistock, on the market with Kivells.