Tenancy opportunities do not come to market with great frequency, so these five farms will interest those on the lookout.
Two upland livestock farms are available to let as a whole or as separate units in north-east England.
Hethpool Farm and Fleehope Farm cover 2,250 acres of grazing land in the College Valley in the Cheviot Hills in north Northumberland.
The valley has been owned by College Valley Estates for more than 60 years and Bill and Fanny Elliot, the outgoing tenants, have farmed Fleehope and Hethpool since 1999.
With the Elliots deciding to retire after a notable career producing quality stock, the farms are available on a 10-year farm business tenancy (FBT), beginning on 11 November 2020, with a break clause available at year five for both parties. The rent will be reviewed every three years.
The owner wants prospective tenants to have a track record of hill sheep farming, husbandry skills, be able to demonstrate respect, management and enhancement of the natural environment, and to give a long-term commitment to the farm and the local community.
Brockthorpe Consultancy is handling the tenancy process and an information pack, including a pre-qualification questionnaire, is available.
Applicants must register their interest and submit the questionnaire by 2 July, and prospective applicants will be invited to an open day on 16 July.
A shortlist will be invited to an interview and the tender submission closing date is 31 August 2019.
Tenders should include a robust business plan, a CV including details of competence and experience, and references.
Outgoing tenant Bill Elliot advises: “Enjoy what you are doing, take pride in your work, and everything else will follow. This is a very special place, we have tremendous neighbours, and we have shared a real community spirit. And of course, most importantly, please look after my sheep.”
Hethpool Farm has 297 acres of severely disadvantaged area (SDA) and 630 acres of moorland. It includes a four-bedroom farmhouse, if required.
Hethpool also has a hefted flock of 885 North Country Hill Cheviots (Lairg type) ewes and 265 ewe hoggs.
Fleehope Farm has 146 acres of SDA and 1,177 acres of moorland. The hefted flock here includes 450 Scottish Blackface ewes (Lanark type) and 145 ewe hoggs.
The incoming tenant will have to buy the livestock at market value to include heft and acclimatisation payments. The value of the stock and the Basic Payment Scheme entitlements will be negotiated with the outgoing tenant nearer the start date.
Farm buildings and sheep pens are also included.
The land use is mainly designated for sheep grazing, with cattle only permitted to graze in the summer months.
While not a site of special scientific interest or a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ), the land does include several scheduled ancient monuments, which restrict operations.
The landlord will enter an environmental stewardship agreement and retain all payments, as well as reserving minerals, sporting and timber rights.
Other tenancy opportunities
Norfolk County Council’s 189.45-acre Fen Farm on the Hilgay Estate has Grade 1 land, currently under arable rotation, with loamy and sandy soils.
It includes two yards at separate farms, a three-bedroom house and a range of buildings.
The closing date for applications is 13 June and the 10-year FBT will commence on 11 October 2020.
Peak District, Derbyshire
The upland North Lees Farm, Hathersage, has 118 acres of in-bye pasture, 1,068 acres of moorland, a building and the option of a farmhouse.
It is available on an initial three-year FBT from 29 September 2019 and the viewing day is on 8 June.
The deadline for tenders is 12 noon on 15 July. More details are available from the Peak District National Park Authority.
Land at Drayton Lodge Farm, Banbury, is available on a seven-year FBT starting on 30 October 2019 with Law & Fiennes and Brown & Co.
It has about 327 acres of productive arable land, permanent pasture and a lake. The viewing date is on 13 June and the tender closing date is 12 noon on 27 June.
George Dunn, chief executive of Tenant Farmers Association, says:
Sadly, tenancy opportunities come to the market all too infrequently. Sometimes local authority landlords will store up several letting opportunities to offer at one time to make their tender process easier to manage. Overall, demand far outstrips supply.
On average, 30 or 40 individuals will express some serious interest in an opportunity, with around 15 to 20 of those putting in formal tenders. So, the competition is fierce, to say the least.
However, there will be many lettings each year that take place without a formal tender process, based on word-of-mouth and local knowledge. Being in the right place at the right time can bring dividends.
It is disappointing that in most cases lengths of term offered are very short – 85% of all new farm business tenancies are let for five years or less.
Even those with longer terms often contain break clauses, giving landlords the unilateral right to bring those opportunities to an end long before the stated term.
It is for this reason that we are very disappointed that the tenancy reform consultations currently under way in England and Wales do not include proposed changes to the taxation framework within which landlords make decisions to encourage longer tenancies.
At least there is discussion around providing easier-to-use provisions for landlords to bring tenancies to an end when tenants are in breach and when those tenancies have been offered for periods of 10 years or more without break clauses.
If enacted this should provide some assistance at the margin, but we really need the driver of taxation to make significant advances on tenancy length.