24 May 2002

Let land risks start to unsettle Scots market

THE sale of Ardachie in the west of Scotland is one of the first signs that the spectre of dramatic land reform is starting to unsettle Scottish landowners.

The 1000-acre hill farm, part of a modest family owned estate near Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway, is being sold on the retirement of the current tenant. Had it not been for the current attack on limited partnership tenancies – to date the favoured means of letting – and the fears surrounding the proposal for a tenants right to buy, the owner might have been disposed to relet, reckons Robert Gladstone at Smiths Gore, Dumfries.

"There is no mechanism for straightforward lets without enormous risks," he said. "The result is that nobody is letting land on any basis at all. The whole question of the Bill is unsettling. It wont be law for about a year, so we have this situation of people not wanting to do anything."

Encouragingly, there has already been good interest from potential purchasers, both Scottish and English. The guide price is £270,000, with the farmhouse and 14 acres looking for offers over £100,000. &#42