Defra sells research sites to cash in on property price rise

DEFRA is selling off six more ADAS research sites to cash in on rising property values.

An ADAS statement said the sales would also release the organisation from the burden of running the farms at a time of reduced research and development revenues and poor agricultural returns. An undisclosed number of jobs will be lost.

Four of the sites, totalling 764ha (1888 acres) and worth £8.5m, are for sale now.

Two more covering 547ha (1351 acres) are still under Crichel Downs legislation, which means, before they can be sold publicly, they have to be offered to the previous owners from whom they were compulsorily purchased.

Consideration of the marketplace

Adas has rented the sites from DEFRA since it was privatised it 1997. It will continue to lease office facilities at five of the sites for three years and all existing research projects will continue in-situ until complete.

Colin Speller, ADAS group managing director, said the move would not diminish the organisation’s research capabilities.

“In common with all commercial businesses, ADAS is continually evaluating the best ways of meeting client needs competitively. The decision to vacate the farm sites has been taken following detailed consideration of the current and future marketplace for the services provided, which included discussions with our major clients.

Property agent Smiths Gore will be handling the sale of the farms. The firm’s Sam Tydeman said they were all good commercial units that would appeal to farmers. “The buildings and land have all been well looked after.”

Properties for sale:

  • High Mowthorpe, Malton, North Yorkshire.  A 437ha (1080-acre) mixed farm. Includes a period farmhouse, three cottages, office block and large range of buildings. Priced at £4.3m.
  • Rosemaund Farm, Preston Wynne, Herefordshire. A 176ha (434-acre) mixed farm that includes deer-handling facilities, Georgian farmhouse, office block and laboratory. Priced at £2.5m.
  • Terrington St Clement, King’s Lynn, Norfolk. A 118ha (292-acre) arable farm, piggery and office block. In five lots for £1.4m.
  • Mepal Fen, Ely, Cambridgeshire. About 32ha (80 acres) of Grade 1 Fen land and a 35,000m3 irrigation reservoir at the Arthur Rickwood research site. Priced at £330,000. ADAS will continue to run a sheep unit at the site.
  • Boxworth, a 347ha (857-acre) arable and livestock research site in Cambridgeshire, and Gleadthorpe, a 200ha (494-acre) farm in Nottinghamshire best known for irrigation and poultry-welfare research, are still going through the Crichel Downs process.