Tenant fears over Welsh estate sale

The sale of one of the largest estates to ever come on the market in Wales could mean big changes for its tenants.

The 23,000-acre Vyrnwy Estate, which is being sold on a 125-year lease with a price tag of around £11m, has 13 farm tenants and 31 tenants of residential and commercial property.

Tenants fear that the sale by Severn Trent Water to a new owner could lead to major changes in the management of the estate. Although the tenancy agreement with existing tenants cannot be changed because they come under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, rents could rise when the next review takes place in 2012.

Alwyn Watkins, chairman of the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ Montgomeryshire county branch, says tenants are worried a new owner could take a more robust approach to future management.

“The tenants were alerted that moves may be made to introduce changes to clauses in their agreements, such as responsibility for repairs, and they were also made aware of the importance of seeking advice at rent reviews,” says Mr Watkins.

“This sale could mean a major change for the local community in Llanwddyn and for the farmers who farm the land on the estate.”

Land agent Philip Meade, of Davis Meade Property Consultants, Oswestry, represents around half the estate’s tenants.

Severn Trent, he says, had been mainly concerned to protect its water asset, Lake Vyrnwy, but a new owner seeking to make a return on its £11 million investment could take a more robust approach. This could see more of the costs associated with repairs placed on tenants.

Meanwhile a campaign has been set up on Facebook in a bid to get a million Welsh people to buy a £10 share of the estate so it can belong to the people of Wales.