Arable land values rocket in Wiltshire

Land prices have surged over the past year and a Wiltshire land agent is launching a block of bare arable land that typifies the trend.

David Cross of Savills’ Salisbury office is selling 360 acres at West Farm, Fovant, near the cathedral city, and is confident of achieving over £5500/acre.

Mr Cross’s bullish mood seems justified. This time last year he put a 300-acre parcel of nearby land on the market for £3500 and it made £5000/acre.

“It really has amazed me. In simple terms land prices have moved from £3000/acre to north of £5000/acre. I didn’t expect it would go so high so quickly.

“There are plenty of examples around here of land making £6000-£7000/acre.”

The figures back up results from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest half-yearly rural market survey released yesterday.


West Farm Wiltshire

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According to RICS, land prices increased 28% in the second half of 2008 with arable land making an average of £10,949/ha (£4430/acre).

However, Mr Cross reckons the agricultural property bull run hasn’t finished and even the global credit crunch won’t hold it back.

“It’s a different market, we’re not talking about two-up two-downs in Colchester.”

A price-busting combination of limited supply, higher commodity prices and more confidence in the rural economy, along with demand from foreign buyers, was behind the price rises, he said.

Local land-hungry farmers would probably buy Mr Cross’s latest offering, he reckoned. “Although it never ceases to amaze me who comes out of the woodwork for these things – it could be an investor or somebody from further away,” he added.

The land, which includes a band of Grade 2 greensand and sits at the top and bottom of an escarpment, was being sold now to beat changes to capital gains tax legislation in April, said Mr Cross.

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