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East Anglia Future 50

East of England continues to buck national trend as less farmland comes to market

PUBLISHED: 06:04 13 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:07 15 April 2019

Prime arable land in the eastern counties remains relatively stable, says Savills  Picture: CHRIS RAWLINGS

Prime arable land in the eastern counties remains relatively stable, says Savills Picture: CHRIS RAWLINGS

Chris Rawlings

A total of 15% of farmland put up for sale in England in the first three months of this year was in East Anglia, according to latest research.

East Anglia accounted for 15% of the land across England put on the market in the first quarter of 2019  Picture: ADOBEEast Anglia accounted for 15% of the land across England put on the market in the first quarter of 2019 Picture: ADOBE

A report by land agents Savills shows a total of 1,120 acres of farmland were publicly marketed in the region between January and March 2019 - compared with 1,210 acres for the same period last year.

Despite representing an 8% a drop, the figure is up on Great Britain as a whole, which saw a decrease of 28% when compared to the same period in 2018, with 10,390 acres publicly marketed.

MORE – Brexit: What are best and worst things farmers can do this year?

Savills quarterly farmland value figures also show that the average value of prime arable land in the eastern counties remained relatively stable, falling 0.9% to £8,690 per acre in the first three months of the year.

Will Hargreaves, from the rural team at the Savills Ipswich office, said despite challenging market conditions there is still an appetite for well diversified or high quality commercial farming businesses.

“The market in the first quarter of any year tends to be relatively small as most sellers prefer to wait and launch their property in the spring so the figures are not wholly unexpected,” he said. “But it does appear that current political and economic uncertainty has slightly muted the supply of land coming onto the market.

“Undoubtedly there are some significant challenges ahead for farming businesses but until the future farming policy is ratified, it is difficult to forecast how the farmland market might be affected.

“It is however very clear that despite wider concerns there is still appetite for well diversified or high quality commercial farming businesses and the best amenity estates.

“Premiums are likely to be paid for top quality properties, where demand is strong from forward looking farming businesses that are looking to expand existing operations and roll-over investors seeking new opportunities. Meanwhile, non-farming buyers are looking to invest away from riskier asset classes and there is a rise in interest for amenity property.”

Nationally, the supply of land in the first quarter of this year was 28% less than in the first quarter of 2018 and 40% lower than the average since 2000. The lowest acreage recorded since Savills analysis began in 1995.

Ian Bailey, from Savills rural research, said: “With very little activity and consequently little transactional evidence, it is no surprise that our farmland value survey has recorded very little movement in average values since the end of last year.

“Our research shows that depending on location, average values across Great Britain have remained stable at around £7,500 to £8,800 per acre for prime arable and £5,500 to £7,000 per acre for average quality grassland. We are predicting that these average values will remain relatively stable throughout the year as there are plenty of buyers registered.”

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