Arable tenancy close to London with livery business to let

A 21-year farm business tenancy (FBT) on almost 500 acres within the M25 London orbital motorway is one of several large farms to let.

Wickham Court Farm is one of the main holdings on the London Borough of Bromley’s agricultural estate.

It has about 479 acres, which is mainly arable, but includes about 80 acres of grassland for hay and horse grazing, along with about 18 acres of woodland.

See also: Large Devon tenancy offers 1270 acres in six lots flexible structure 

The outgoing tenant has established a thriving DIY livery enterprise, which forms an important part of the business. The holding has a five-bedroom Victorian farmhouse, with a two-bedroom annex, and four three-bedroom cottages.

Buildings include hay and straw sheds, a fertiliser store, grain store and farm workshops. The livery yard has 50 stables and seven secure tack rooms, a sand school and rubber-topped outdoor arena.

There is one let business unit and the landlord is keen for the incoming tenant to seek other opportunities for a well-diversified farm business, says Mike Bax, director at letting agent BTF Partnership.

Sustainable rent

“We are looking to ensure that the new tenant at Wickham Court can be properly integrated into the future farming landscape. We therefore have to focus on sustainable rent requirements and avoidance of tenancy provisions that are overly restrictive,” said Mike.

“At Bromley, we have a landlord keen to enable innovation and we are seeking an enlightened tenant looking for opportunities to move forward in an uncertain climate, in this unusual but exciting outer metropolitan location.”

Viewing is on 10 July and tender applications close at noon on 17 July.

Wickham Court Farm is the third large tenancy to be launched recently for 10 years or longer, in addition to a flurry of smaller farms becoming available.

Home Farm on the Castle Hill Estate in Devon has 1,270 acres and is available for 10 years in up to six lots through Savills.

In North Yorkshire, GSC Grays has a 605-acre livestock holding on a 15-year FBT agreement.   

Whether this is a trend is difficult to tell, says Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn.

“The market in let land has always been very lumpy. There are periods of time with very little forthcoming and then, all of a sudden, you get a bit of a rush.

“However, we are certainly having more conversations than usual with tenants who are looking to surrender or retire and that should mean – depending on what landowners decide to do – that there will be a bit of an uptick in opportunity over the medium term.

“In addition, we do get the sense that landlords are being cognisant of the need to offer longer terms. Of course, the hard evidence still suggests that terms continue to be short, with more than 87% of all new FBTs let for five years or less.”

The data on terms is historic and George anticipates a move to longer-term tenancies as the sector responds to challenges such as the Rock Review of tenancies and the Treasury in respect of taxation. The new growth in environmental markets will also require longer-term tenancies.