16 March 2001

Fringe areas for riding

THE surge in the popularity of horse riding could be partly responsible for small blocks of land on village fringes with no development potential fetching good money.

Figures from the British Equine Trade Association report a 20% rise in the number of riders since 1997 and a sharp increase in the number of horses being kept.

Matthew Peters, auctioneer with Bruton Knowles, says the unexpectedly high prices achieved at the firms recent auctions of land in Bucks were probably due to interest from horse owners looking for paddocks and people who want a buffer of land surrounding their properties.

A plot of 11.5 acres near Haversham, guided at £55,000, attracted intense bidding and eventually went under the hammer for £75,000 (£6521/acre) despite the fact it is prone to flooding. A further eight lots at Mursley all went for well in excess of the guide price and averaged just below £4000/acre.

However, according to Ralph Crathorne, business adviser with Strutt & Parker, farmers are not missing out on this demand for land.

He says many farms have set up some form of equine enterprise over the last 15 years, with a rapid increase in the past two years.

Mr Crathorne adds that where demand is high, annual rents for land let to horses can achieve a premium of approximately £200-£500/acre.