15 March 2002

Eager farmer bidders snap up northern land

By Andrew Shirley

FARMERS in the north of England proved their willingness to take on more land last week as two farms went under the hammer for well over their guide prices.

Mouchels Andrew Purkiss said he was extremely pleased with the sale of Westfield Farm, Reighton, near Filey. The 130-acre, Grade 2 arable farm, part of the North Yorkshire County Council estate and offered in two lots, had been tentatively guided at £500,000, but eventually went for £620,000.

The majority of the IACS-registered land was bought by agent John Atkinson, of Dee Atkinson & Harrison, on behalf of a substantial East Yorks-based farming company, for £380,000 (£3036/acre).

Along with six acres and some buildings, the three-bedroomed modern house was bought for £240,000 by a local family with equestrian interests.

"Two things can be deduced from this sale," said Mr Purkiss. "The residential market is even stronger than we expected and, perhaps more interestingly, those people who have been saying the land market is weakening appear to have got it wrong."

A day earlier, Hopes of Wigton, Cumbria, which already has three successful public sales under its belt this season, had another good result with the disposal of Whitrigg Hall, near Wigton. Guided at £420,000-£460,000, bidding for the 190- acre grass farm stopped at £590,000 for the whole.

Agent David Bulman said there were four bidders in the race, and all were farmers. Foot-and-mouth compensation has been mooted as one factor supporting the land market in the area, but the chartered surveyor thought only one of the hopefuls had received any cash during the outbreak.

Most of the property was classed as a less favoured area, which Mr Bulman reckoned could partially explain why it fetched so much more than expected.

"This was the first time something with LFA status had come on the market for a while so we took the view that we didnt want to overprice it. But maybe the subsidies available added to the attraction."

Hopes next sale will be on Mar 26 when Hudbeck, a 183-acre former dairy farm near Raughton, Carlisle, is due to be sold by auction. Hudbeck has been farmed by retiring farmer Maurice Ropers family since 1925 and, including a four-bedroomed house, is valued at £470,000. &#42