14 June 2002

Grange up for grabs as farm business changes

By Andrew Shirley

ACROSS England a number of properties are up for grabs following the reorganisation of some family businesses.

In North Yorks, changes in livestock buying and selling patterns after the foot-and-mouth outbreak have prompted the sale of one 400-acre unit. Woodhead Brothers, owner of a Lancs abattoir and a major player in the beef industry in northern England, previously used Aiskew Grange, Bedale, on the edge of the A1, as a vital lairage facility when the firm had buyers in auction markets across the country.

But now the decision has been taken to concentrate on the operations principal holding near Pickering, 35 miles away. "With a trend to more direct buying, and restrictions on animal movement, Aiskew Grange has become less significant to our business," said Jonathan Woodhead.

On the market with Thirsk-based Joplings, selling agent Rodney Cordingley is guiding the holding at £1.25m. This puts the five-bedroomed "working farmhouse" and buildings at around £450,000, with an across-the-board value of £2000/acre on the land which is split equally between grazing land and IACS-registered arable soil.

Mr Cordingly says there has been plenty of interest since the farm was launched locally last week. "There have been 42 requests for details so far, a lot of them from Dumfries and Cumbria. I think it will be sold as a working farm, although there is always the possibility that the house, grass and arable land could go separately in three lots."

Another restructuring exercise, this time in Suffolk, has seen local businessman and farmer James Buckle swap a pair of mid-sized arable holdings for a larger commercial unit. The master of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt is the new owner of 1004-acre Boyton Hall, Monks Eleigh, and will now be selling two of his existing properties.

Boyton was put on the market in the spring by FPDSavills with a guide of £3m, and the firm will also be handling the sale of Aldham Priory Farm, Aldham, and Hightrees and Sprotts Farm near Polstead, valued together at £2.97m.

"It made sense because the new land adjoins the familys existing holding, but it wasnt an easy choice. I am upset to have to sell the other farms, it was definitely a business decision rather than one of the heart," said Mr Buckle.

The land at Hightrees and Sprotts, guided at £750,000, runs to just over 300 acres and includes some amenity woodland that its owner says he will sorely miss. "I hope it goes to somebody who will look after it." Aldham Priory is more of a residential proposition although it still extends to 515 acres.

Agent Tim Cooper says he hopes to achieve £2.22m for the farm which is seven miles from Ipswich and includes 487 IACS-registered acres, tagged at £2500/acre, a large five-bedroomed period property and two cottages.

Meanwhile, in Oxfordshire, a farmer has traded his 90-acre dairy farm at Faringdon for a larger arable unit in the locality, reports Richard Nocton of Woolley and Wallis.

Fernham Farm was put on the market for £1.1m with the Wilts-based agent after the owners son decided he did not want to continue with dairying. The purchaser was a lifestyle buyer and Ferham is unlikely to remain in agricultural use. &#42