Commercial Lincolnshire may be taking a breather

After a flush of larger farms came on to the market in Lincolnshire earlier this year, there are signs that activity seems to be slowing, say agents. More than 7000 acres are for sale or under offer in the county.

The Danes have been a driving force over the past two years, but have displayed less appetite for English farmland recently. Indeed, it is a Dane who is selling one of the larger farms in the county – Gosberton Fen Farm, with 778 acres of grade 1 and 2 land near Spalding – to pursue another investment.

It is the third time the farm has been on the market since a Lincolnshire family sold it to an Irish buyer in 2005, when land was valued at between £2000 and £2500/acre. Savills now put it at almost three times that, at £5.2m.

“We had some exciting sales earlier in the year, which seemed to provide the new benchmark and flushed out some of the bigger farms we have got on the market now,” said Robert Hurst of Savills’ Lincoln office. “People think that land is worth £6000 to £7000/acre there are farms at that level, but not all of them.”

Mr Hurst paid £390,000 for 110 acres at auction recently – equivalent to £3545/acre – on behalf of a local farmer. Meanwhile, 171 acres of land at Claxby, near Market Rasen – part arable and part land that had been mined for ironstone – was under offer at a guide price of £565,000 (£3300/acre).

“It will be interesting to see what happens in the autumn,” he said. “For years we have talked about production costs for cereals at around £100/acre for next year we are talking about £200/acre.”

Brown & Co’s two larger farms – 990-acre Waite Farm, guided at £7.5m, and 264 acres at Glebe Farm, East Keal, near Spilsby (£1.35m) – were both under offer, subject to contract, at what were described as satisfactory prices. “I think it is still true that larger blocks can command a premium,” said the firm’s James O’Brien. He planned to test the local bare land market, especially for silt, when 200 acres around Boston come up on 14 August.

Christopher Longstaff, of Longstaffs, said land in south Lincolnshire was attracting local interest. He was pulling in final offers for 110 acres of silt near Surfleet, and had agreed the sale of 170 acres of grade 2 cereal land at Thorney le Fen, with a guide of £850,000.