10 August 2001

By Andrew Shirley

FOOT-AND-MOUTH may have dampened the supply of agricultural property in the south-west but the regions agents report that demand is still strong.

"I am placing land wanted advertisements for the first time," says David Gordon Vick, of Devon-based Gordon Vick & Partners. And he reckons, even if more farms do become available as a result of F&M, the market will soak them up.

He does admit, however, that land with purely commercial interest is not always selling at the levels seen before the outbreak. "I recently sold a 50-acre accommodation block in the heart of an infected area and was slightly disappointed with the price. I was hoping to get close to £1700/acre but fell just short.

"At the moment it seems the residential factor is a more dominant force, amenity land on the edge of villages can make £3500-4000/acre."

The agent has just launched Ridges Farm, Upcott, and thinks there will be plenty of interest in the grade 2 listed house in need of complete refurbishment. The former dairy holding is valued at about £170,000.

Up to 12 acres of pasture land is also available, but Mr Gordon Vick is loathe to put a price on it. "Depending on the purchaser it could go for anything from £1000-10,000/acre."

A more comprehensive test of the market will be Ellecott Barton, a 900-acre grass farm, near Okehampton, that Stratton & Holborows Peter Thomas reckons is the largest offering in the county for some time.

Currently owned by compounder Ellecott Feeds no stock has been kept on the unit recently as all the grass is dried and turned into animal feed pellets, although a good range of stock buildings is featured.

Mr Thomas notes decent levels of interest already, with some coming from farmers whose animals were culled during F&M. "There are some people who are now looking to reinvest for the future."

The sale includes a principal eight-bedroomed dwelling in need of renovation and three tied cottages. Guided at £2m for the whole, the sale has been lotted five ways. The main house and 527 acres are valued at £1.3m, while bare land is being pegged at around £1600/acre.

In Cornwall, KVNYStockdales Simon Alford also confirms demand is keen and doesnt seem to have been effected by F&M. He says that Small Hill Barton, a 345-acre mixed farm near Bude, was only on the market for a matter of weeks before going to a buyer from Sussex.

"The purchaser was a genuine commercial farmer looking to relocate." The property, offered in conjunction with FPDSavills, was guided at £920,000 and "sold well". Another recent joint agency deal, this time with Knight Frank, also sold quickly, according to the agent.

Welltown Farm, a 160-acre grassland unit in the Tamar Valley 1.5 miles from Launceston, went to local non-farming buyer for a figure in the region of the £810,000 guide.

Lifestyle interest was again to the fore at the firms auction earlier this week of Hillsborough, a 67-acre smallholding overlooking the coast at Boscastle. The National Trust won the day with a bid of £300,000. &#42

Land scarce & demand strong in south-west