South west land values need ‘radical reassessment’

Land values in the south west will need to be radically reassessed following the successful sale of a 309-acre Wiltshire dairy farm, says one of the region’s agents.

Richard Nocton of Woolley & Wallis in Marlborough launched Fyfield Farm, near the town, on Good Friday (April 6) and after 70 viewings in just three weeks agreed a cash sale worth almost £6000/acre for the land alone.

“We have a huge list of frustrated buyers looking for the right farm,” he said.

Three contrasting new launches this week will test that demand, but the quality of the farms means there should be plenty of interested from a mix of farmers, lifestyle buyers and investors.

‘First-class farm’

Savills’ David Cross is delighted to handling the sale of a particularly rare beast – a large commercial farm in  Dorset that should appeal more to real farmers than the army of residential buyers that is snapping up much of the south west.

“Once in a while an opportunity comes along with all the elements that combine to make a truly first-class commercial farm. West Park Farm, Winterbourne Whitchurch is just that,” said Mr Cross.

The 730-acre farm is currently home to a 300-cow pedigree dairy herd with an industry-leading Waitrose milk contract, but all the chalk soils, apart from some water meadows, could be used for arable production, he said.

Mr Cross said the farm was particularly unusual for the area because all the land was in a ring-fenced block with the substantial range of buildings and a modern, five-bed agriculturally tied house and two Victorian workers’ cottages  right in the middle.

“The owner used to be an engineer so all the buildings are over-spec’ed,” he added.

‘Lifestyle buyer magnet’

The farm, which is priced at £5m, is only available as a whole, and Mr Cross said the vendor would ideally like to sell it with the cows on a lock-stock-and-barrel basis.

“Somebody could come in and on day one start making money. It would be shame if after all the investment it didn’t stay as a dairy farm.”

In south Devon, Charles Wreford-Brown of Luscombe Maye is also selling a farm that is large for the area, but in this case it has been lotted seven ways and its stunning views of the coast and Salcombe estuary are likely to prove a magnet for lifestyle buyers.

“Salcombe is the most expensive part of south Devon,” said Mr Wreford-Brown. “And it’s very hard to buy a 400-acre farm in our part of the country. They’re extremely rare.”

New opportunities

Rickham Farm, DevonRickham Farm at East Portlemouth extends to 394 acres and has traditionally been run under an arable system with grass leys for cattle and sheep.

However, the vendors, who have decided to look at new opportunities after farming there for 18 years, have more recently had a suckler-cow herd using native South Devons with Aberdeen Angus stores, Mr Wreford-Brown said.

Including a five-bed house and a two-bed cottage, the farm, which is being sold jointly with Savills, is priced at £2.5m for the whole.

However, Mr Wreford-Brown said there could be interest from farmers in the land, which has been split into five blocks ranging from almost 10 acres to 128 acres. “The best level arable land is priced at £3000-£3500 and I’ve already had enquiries from Ireland.”

On The Devon/Dorset border, Fox Grant and Stags have teamed up to sell Hills Farm at Kilmington, two miles from Axminster.

A 233-acre former dairy unit, the farm, which also has sea views, will catch the eye of horse lovers. It includes a comprehensive equestrian centre and therapy complex opened in 2004 by international show jumper by Michael Whittaker.

Included in the £3.2m guide price is a five-bed listed farmhouse with a four-bed annexe and a 2500 yards of double and single-bank fishing on the River Axe.