22 May 1998

Top price for top-notch quality is Cheshire aim

By Louise Rose

AN UNDERLYING demand for better quality farmland is reflected in the bullish guide price quoted for a block of grassland going to auction next month.

"Were being positive and guiding the 48-acre block adjoining the main farmstead at about £4000/acre," says Stephen Cheshire of Jackson-Stops & Staff, which is handling the sale jointly with Wright-Manley.

As a whole the unit – in prime dairy country – includes 341 acres with 293 acres lying in a ring fence. The farm, Woodhey Hall, Faddiley, near Nantwich, Cheshire is guided at £1.75-£2m.

"Taking the farm to auction seemed the fairest way to sell it and also keeps the deal very open," said Mr Cheshire.

This lot has a dairy complex accommodating about 190 cows, a range of traditional barns which may offer some development potential, subject to planning permission, and a grade 2 listed, five-bedroom farmhouse.

Also, 148 acres of the medium to heavy loam land is eligible for arable area aid, although only about 60 acres is currently cropped with cereals. The nearly 750,000 litres of milk quota allocated to the holding are include in lot one.

"We believe this is the first time that the farm has been brought to the open market for over 400 years. The vendor, who is retiring, privately acquired the freehold of the farm some 20 years ago," he said.

He maintains that Woodhey Hall is probably the most significant dairy farm to be marketed since ICI sold some units in 1990. "Most recent sales have included a maximum acreage of 250 acres," he said.

Also he expects interest to be widespread from both farmers and residentially led buyers.

Commenting on the farmland market he says: "There are no two ways about it the future of farming lies with larger units and there are a number of farmers in a position to add land to their existing holdings and the demand for good commercial dairy units still is strong despite present farming fortunes."

And recently Wright-Manley auctioned a 121-acre dairy unit near Crewe achieving £930,000 including about 953,669 litres of milk quota – valued at around £300,000.

The farm, Winterley Pool Farm, Haslington, was in a ring fence with cubicle housing for 192 cows, a range of traditional farm buildings and a six-bedroom farmhouse.

"Interest came from Cheshire and the neighbouring counties," said auctioneer John Lewis, "But the successful bidder was a local landowner and farmer."

Going to auction on June 25,Woodhey Hall, near Nantwich, is for sale in two lots with the farmstead and 293 acres guided at £1.75-£2m and £4000/acre quoted for the adjoining 48-acre block of grassland.