7 September 2001

Largest organic unit to go on market for £4.6m

By Andrew Shirley

AGENT FPDSavills claims the Hanford Estate is "probably the largest organic holding ever to be marketed".

The 989-acre unit near Blandford, Dorset, beats the previous record holder – the 630-acre Blaenhiraeth Estate in Llanelli, which was was released last month by Woolley & Wallis – by 359 acres.

Hanford revolves around a 300-head Dairy Shorthorn herd that owner Bing Spencer describes as potentially one of the most profitable farm businesses operating in the UK.

"Before drawings, the income is around £200,000/ year," says Mr Spencer, who currently receives 32p/litre for his milk from Dairy Crest, with a base price of 27p/litre before bonuses.

Mr Spencer reckons there is the potential to add another 50 cows to the operation, without having to extensively modify the existing well laid out 20:20 herringbone direct line parlour. This would take milk capacity to 3m litres/year.

"Anybody who doesnt continue with the present system would be mad," says agent David Cross.

However, the estate offers more than just a profitable dairy business. The principal residence is an attractive eight-bedroom art deco-style house, designed in the 1930s by architect Vivien Seymour, with good views over open countryside.

A strong environmental ethos is also in place on the farm, with around £25,000 of additional income generated from conservation schemes, including the management of an ancient yew wood thought to have provided the long bows used at the battle of Agincourt.

A further 80 acres of National Trust land covering the Hod Hill Roman fort site is leased under a farm business tenancy. A total of 370 extra acres of rented land could be available to the future owner.

Mr Spencer says another 500 acres of land is available to buy in the locality and this could offer further expansion opportunities.

Including six secondary dwellings, the whole package is priced at £4.6m. Lotting will be a possibility as will the purchase on a lock-stock-and-barrel basis.

Fellow national agent Strutt & Parker also has a new organic property on its books. But at 183 acres, Manor Farm – an arable and pasture unit in Inkpen, Berks – is more likely to attract interest because of its grade 2 listed seven-bedroomed farmhouse than its eco-friendly status.

"The house is in the middle of its own land. This, along with the location and quality, will no doubt result in strong demand," says the firms Natalie Price, who is guiding the property at £2m. &#42