5 July 2002

Opportunity aplenty in Sussex

By Andrew Shirley

AGRICULTURAL properties have been few and far between this year in East and West Sussex, but for buyers keen to move to this part of the country there are some interesting opportunities available.

One of the most attractive must be Stantons Farm in the pretty East Sussex hamlet of East Chiltington, six miles from Lewes. The 150-acre grass farm (with another 80 acres available if required) has been on the market for five or six weeks following the reluctant decision of Sir John and Lady Blaker to retire after farming there for 20 years.

Guided at £1.6m, the property includes a four-bedroom house, parts of which date from the reign of Henry VII. Although the house has a number of intriguing features, including a secret priests hole where Catholic clerics could hide during the reformation of Henry VIII, it does lack central heating and double glazing.

This could be one of the reasons why the property hasnt yet been snapped up by a London businessman as the location is almost beyond reproach, with excellent views of the South Downs, while two traditional Sussex barns, one with lapsed planning consent, are also part of the package.

"I dont think the right person has come along yet," says Nick Young of local selling agent Watsons. "This is the genuine article, there is nothing cosmetic here."

But for the price of an extra jumper, or even a new heating system, the eventual purchaser will be acquiring a very desirable residence with great potential.

Although Sir John has been farming Stantons on a commercial basis with a ewe flock and suckler herd, it is likely that a newcomer would use the farm buildings for keeping horses and rent out any excess land to a local producer on a farm business tenancy or annual grass let.

Fellow local agent Guy Streeter, of Heathfield firm Charles Clark & Co, says he is seeing plenty of demand with not enough property to go around. He is currently selling Eatonden Manor Farm at Stonegate, and has received a number of offers close to the £975,000 guide price. "They have been a good starting point."

The farm comprises a Grade 2 listed five-bedroom house and 51 acres of land, 28 acres of which are IACS-registered. There is also principle planning consent for two holiday lets.

Meanwhile in West Sussex, James Tillard of Humberts is taking a new approach to try and get away the Hooklands Estate, near Haywards Heath. The Swedish owners of the 522-acre property, launched last year, originally wanted it to go as a whole, but so far nobody has been tempted.

Mr Tillard now reckons that aim was not realistic in the present market. Instead he has decided to market the holdings 378-acre dairy enterprise separately for £1.1m. The owners will be holding onto the bulk of the estates nine rented cottages, and an offer has been accepted on the principal house and buildings. &#42

Views of the South Downs are part of the package at Stantons Farm, available from joint agents Watsons and Sheldon Bosley for £1.6m.