Farmland in your area 2023: East of England

The land market in the east of England is bucking the national trend, with farmers accounting for the bulk of buyers in this region.

Although 2023 saw growth in the numbers of environmental buyers, private investors, lifestyle buyers and institutional investors securing UK land and farm, activity in the East was dominated by farmers.

Many were farmers eyeing expansion, in spite of what has been a challenging economic environment for growers in this largely arable region.

See also: Farmland in your area 2023 – North-East England

Land agents operating in the east of England are confident that the outlook for 2024 is positive, although they do expect to see a greater polarisation in values creeping in.

Location determines price

Tim Fagan, director, Strutt & Parker

We have seen a total of about 15,000 acres of vacant farmland come to the market, comprising 55 separate blocks of land or complete farms. All but a handful of these have found buyers.

Drivers for these purchases included rarity of opportunity, outside income helping to pay bank borrowing, and rollover of capital gains tax from development land sales.

Looking ahead to 2024, location will become an increasingly important factor in determining price.

Levels of supply remain a talking point, with questions being asked about whether there could be a rise in the volume of land available.

While this is a possibility, there is little hard evidence it is happening yet in the region. 

We are now in a period of stabilisation, with an expectation of market activity picking up in the spring of 2024 following the usual winter break, where the volume of land available could dictate the prices achieved.

Prices cooling

Will Hargreaves, director, Savills

2023 has been a year of change in East Anglia, with some notable trends emerging that quite significantly differentiate it from previous years and from other parts of the country.

From late 2022 and into early 2023, farmland values increased by as much as 15% year on year, with many of the deals agreed at £13,000/acre matching the peak values seen a decade ago.

Naturally, with added choice for buyers comes an adjustment in price, which we started to see in the deals being agreed from the summer of 2023 onwards.

While values in some places have softened, the polarisation in the market remains notable – the difference between the highest and the lowest price is as significant as ever.

The recent cooling of prices in East Anglia sits in stark contrast to other parts of England, where record land values continue to be achieved with strong competition for the most commercial, or perhaps the most fashionable, opportunities.

Sold in 2023

Mitchells Farm in west Essex, which was sold by Strutt & Parker to two local landowners, exceeded the £10,000/acre level.

At 210 acres, the land has Grade 2 soils, but no house or buildings were included in the sale.

Mitchells Farm

© Strutt & Parker

On the market

Lot 3 at Red House Farm, Harkstead, Suffolk, offers about 285 acres at a guide price of £2.9m.

Red House Farm

© Savills

The irrigated light land is marketed by Savills as ideal for vegetables, with cereals also in the rotation. A farm business tenancy runs until 30 September 2026.

Sold in 2023

St John’s Farm at Beachamwell, Swaffham, a 1,632-acre ring-fenced arable farm, had a guide price of £17m. Sold by Savills, it has an extensive irrigation system to facilitate root crop and vegetable production.

The farm was sold with a south-facing six-bedroom farmhouse and two residential houses offering diversified income.

St John's Farm

St John’s Farm © Savills

Ivy House Farm at Worlingworth in north Suffolk, a 208-acre holding with heavy arable land marketed by Strutt & Parker, sold to a local farmer above the £10,000/acre guide price.

The farmland is a contiguous block of Grade 3 commercial arable land, sitting alongside a Grade II listed five-bedroom farmhouse.

In numbers

Land sales 2023

  • 12,880 Acres advertised in 2021
  • 20,476 Acres advertised in 2022
  • 17,969 Acres advertised in 2023
  • -12% Change end November 22 to end November 23

Acres advertised to end November each year

Land value 2023

  • £9,327/acre Average price paid for arable land
  • £10,192/acre Average price paid for prime arable land

Source: Savills’ farmland supply database which is based on long-run monitoring of lowland farms and farmland of more than 50 acres, publicly advertised in national and regional printed media and online property portals