31 August 2001

Swedish owners loathe to divide up £6m estate

By Andrew Shirley

THE Swedish owners of a West Sussex estate that extends to 522 acres and includes 10 houses hope to sell it lock-stock-and-barrel when it goes on the market soon.

Hooklands, near Haywards Heath, will be available from Humberts. The asking price of almost £6m includes a 160-head pedigree Holstein Fresian dairy herd and 930,277 litres of milk quota.

A large proportion of this price is taken up by a residential portfolio that features a seven-bedroomed period farmhouse and nine other dwellings. However, agent James Tillard is not yet quoting guide prices for the 13 individual lots that make up the sale.

"I really would like to see the estate stay in one piece," he says. This sentiment is echoed by farm manager Peter Boyse. "The owners are very keen to see all the staff retained and wont be rushing to accept the first offer if it involves splitting the farm."

Mr Boyse runs the holding as a mixed unit, combining around 150 acres of arable cropping with the dairy enterprise, a bull beef scheme and a 500 strong breeding ewe flock of North Country Mules crossed with Texel rams.

Despite foot-and-mouth, he is optimistic about the prospects for livestock and milk production. "If the investment was available I would be tempted to expand the dairy business and ditch the cereals.

"Grass does very well here, but we are lucky to get 3t/acre of wheat." Any extra bull beef income would also be a welcome addition, he adds. n