Two massive land deals kick-start 2006 market

A number of well-connected property firms have started 2006 with a bang after the details of two huge property deals were released last week.

CKD Kennedy Macpherson has added the 17,000-acre Wemmergill grouse moor in County Durham to its burgeoning list of lucrative acquisitions, which partner Jonathan Kennedy said had totalled about 60m over the past six months.

These included two other large grouse moors in the north of England, the 3300-acre Abaruchill Estate, worth 6m, in Scotland and the 1700-acre Edgecote Estate in Oxfordshire, which was rumoured to have fetched almost 30m.

Mr Kennedy negotiated the 5.25m purchase of Wemmergill from the Bowes-Lyon family, which had owned the moor for 444 years, for millionaire businessman Michael Cannon and said it was an amazing deal, even though his client had already spent millions leasing the estate’s sporting rights.

“It was advertised in 2003 with a 25-year lease but we paid 4m for a 40-year lease,” said Mr Kennedy.

If Mr Cannon had not already controlled the sporting rights, it is believed the freehold of the moor, which includes six tenanted farms, would have been worth significantly more than he paid.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Bidwells’ Finlay Clark is celebrating the deal of a lifetime after helping John Cameron, reputedly Europe’s biggest sheep farmer, sell the vast majority of his 37,000-acre Perth and Fife-based business lock-stock-and-barrel to property investor Edinmore Properties.

The sale included five farms and about 10,000 ewes, 300 cows, workers’ accommodation and machinery.

Mr Clark was tight lipped about the price achieved, although another agent said the 8-10m being quoted in the Scottish press seemed about right.

“It’s the biggest deal I’ve ever handled and probably the biggest Bidwells has done in Scotland,” said Mr Clark.

“I’ve acted for Mr Cameron in the letting of sport and one or two other smaller jobs but this was a real privilege.

It was a very challenging thing to ask of anyone and it took a while to sink in.”

After spending a week mulling over the options, Mr Clark said he put out the feelers to other agents and Strutt & Parker’s Andrew Rettie came up with Edinmore Properties, which is managed by staff at forestry specialist John Clegg & Co, as a possible buyer.

Nobody from the firm was prepared to say what plans it had for the farms and livestock but some sort of break up would seem on the cards, according to local land agents.

One said:

“What will Edinmore do with 10,000 sheep?”