Diverse Gloucestershire estate is one of largest sales in recent years

One of the largest farming estates to be offered for sale in recent years is being launched this month with a price tag of £57.5m.

The 3,811-acre Down Ampney Estate, near Cirencester, is described by joint selling agents Savills and Bidwells as a “dynamic and multi-faceted rural investment estate of a scale very rarely seen on the market”.

It forms part of Farmcare, a subsidiary of developer Urban&Civic, which is in turn owned by the Wellcome Trust.

See also: What’s behind the rise in farmland sales in 2024?

Down Ampney comes to the market so that Urban&Civic can focus on its core business of developing large residential sites.

This is the second large divestment of Farmcare land since it came under Wellcome Trust ownership in 2014.

The Coldham Estate in Cambridgeshire and the Goole Estate in South Yorkshire were sold to an institutional investor in 2022 for more than the combined guide price of £87.5m.

A diverse income stream is generated from the Down Ampney Estate’s agricultural, mineral, leisure, residential and commercial property enterprises.

The 3,295 acres of farmland is on Grade 2 and 3 soils and is mostly down to arable, currently farmed by Velcourt under a contract farming agreement; smaller parcels of grass are let on short-term arrangements.

There is 8,000t of grain storage and a range of modern and traditional farm buildings.

Within the farmland area are meadows and permanent pasture, 239 acres of mainly broad-leaf woodland, about 114 acres of lakes, ponds and streams and eight acres of vines.

Based on comparable rental equivalents, the selling agents say the farmland could generate about £430,000 a year.

Another source of income is a quarry bringing about £400,000 in revenue a year, but this could significantly increase following planning approval for a second quarry; the consented area spans about 585 acres and is estimated to contain around 6.5m tonnes of sand and gravel.

The residential portfolio includes 30 houses and cottages let on various residential tenancies or which are unoccupied.

Commercial lets include offices, storage, light industrial, a rally driving school and lakes for fishing and water sports.

Down Ampney is being offered for sale at a guide of £57.5m for the whole or is available in five lots.

Dorset restructure

In Dorset, a restructuring exercise on another estate, the Gaunts Estate, brings a 158-acre block of commercial land to the market.

Grange Farm, located north of Wimborne, has gently undulating land with Grade 3 coarse loamy and sandy soils and loamy soils over clay.  

Field sizes are decent and the land has been block cropped with maize by the current tenant.

Grange Farm, Wimborne

Grange Farm © Woolley & Wallis

About seven acres of amenity woodland and three acres of pasture are included in the 158 acres.

Access is directly off the road, but the block is also accessible via right-of-access tracks; a sheep drove runs along the eastern boundary, providing access to the northern fields.

Grange Farm is on the market with Woolley & Wallis at a guide of £1.9m, with shooting and stalking rights included.

Northumberland tenancy

Tenders are being sought for a 1,150-acre arable and sheep farm in Northumberland.

Low Humbleton Farm sits in the Glendale area, close to Wooler, and has been farmed by the family of the current owner, James Short, for more than a century.

The holding is offered on a 10-year farm business tenancy, starting on 1 October 2024, as Mr Short is retiring from active farming.

Low Humbleton Farm

Low Humbleton Farm © Oates Rural

One of the legacies of his many farming years is a high health status flock of 1,200 New Zealand Romney ewes.

The Low Humbleton flock has been bred over the past 30 years to produce a grass-fed, self-replacing flock with high levels of resistance to foot-rot.

The sheep will be available for the successful applicant to take over. The second main enterprise at Low Humbleton Farm is arable, with about 247 acres currently cropped.

Traditional and modern farm buildings include four livestock sheds and housing for 1,300 ewes.

Low Humbleton is offered to let as a whole through Oates Rural.

Managing director Tom Oates said it was a rare and remarkable opportunity for a tenancy on a large farm in exceptionally good order.

“Low Humbleton has been farmed meticulously by the owner, and the successful applicant will take over an enterprise running at a very high level of efficiency, but also well positioned to take advantage of the environmental grants now available,’’ he said.

The farm, Mr Oates added, offered tremendous scope and possibilities.

The tenancy includes a three-bedroom cottage with further accommodation available if required.

Viewing days will be held on 15 and 22 May 2024, with tender forms to be submitted to Oates Rural no later than 12 noon on 19 June 2024.