21 December 2001

Model farm hides F&M scar

By Andrew Shirley

A COMMERCIAL farm in Scotland that was hit by foot-and-mouth disease is on the market for £700,000.

The Flatt, a 465 acre stock farm near Newcastleton in Roxburghshire, succumbed to the disease in March, but farmer John Irving, who is planning to stay in the Borders, says he had already decided to sell by then.

"I was ready to upgrade to a larger unit with some arable land anyway, and now there is no stock on the farm it seems the ideal time to move." F&M restrictions were not completely lifted until October which explains the timing of the sale, he adds.

Robin Steel, of Cumbria-based selling agent C & D Property Services, doesnt expect the catastrophe to influence demand for the holding. "The animals were slaughtered and burnt on the farm, but the site has been completely reinstated and covered with 2ft of soil."

The clean-up measures required in the wake of the infection also mean the property is looking at its best, says the agent. "All of the buildings are spotless. It looks like a model farm."

The Flatt will appeal to non-farming buyers, reckons Mr Steel. "There has been a lot of residential interest, the farm has a big house with the potential for three more bedrooms and there is some fishing and a small pheasant shoot."

Despite F&M, the terrorist atrocities and general economic uncertainty, the agent reckons the current property market in Cumbria is the best he has seen in over 13 years. "Prices have actually improved since Sept 11. It seems more people are moving out of the cities and, because we are close to the M6, transport links are good."

Even bare land values are not declining, he says. "Farmers have been paying more than £100/acre for grass lets. Maybe some have decided it makes more sense to buy rather than renting." &#42