12 May 1995

Neighbours joining forces to sell their farms in Somerset

By Louise Rose

REALISING the potential marriage value of their adjoining farms, two neighbouring Somerset farmers are jointly marketing their holdings.

Totalling 720 acres, Withiel and Higher Ford Farms near Minehead are in the Exmoor National Park within the ESA. Although the whole unit is guided at £1.48m by agents Strutt & Parker it has also been lotted into three.

Lot 1 includes the 421-acre Withiel Farm. The land is classified as grade 3 and 4 and is not eligible for arable area aid payments. Managed as a mixed livestock and arable unit, it is currently in a 10-year management agreement with MAFF and payments for the 1995-96 year will total around £4500.

There is modern housing for up to 1000 ewes, a substantial cattle building and a range of traditional stone barns near the seven-bedroomed house.

The guide price of £750,000 is around 15% more than the purchase price three years ago. This increase reflects the recent rise in land values, the improvement of the farm and the income accrued from subsidies. The bare land is valued at £1100/acre.

Interest is anticipated from all types of buyer as it is not only a commercial farm but has residential, amenity and sporting appeal, with part of the land used by the neighbouring Chargot shoot.

Lot 2 is the 254-acre Higher Ford Farm. An arable block of land mainly eligible for arable area aid and valued at around £1500-1600/acre. The farm is entered into a 20-year management agreement under the Farm Conservation Scheme, generating a £3600 annual payment.

It has modern buildings for sheep and cattle housing although the arable crops are marketed straight off the farm through the Devon co-operative.

Finally, Higher Eastcott Farm includes 45 acres of pasture, a four-bedroomed house, and a range of stock buildings. It is guided at £280,000.

"This sale is a perfect example of two parties recognising the potential financial benefit from joining forces to take advantage of the marriage value," says Robin Thomas of Strutt & Parker.

Withiel Farm on the edge of the Brendon Hills forms part of a joint marketing by two neighbouring farmers.