A greener future

Property Posted 20/08/20
Richard Thomas, Director at BTF Partnership says rental deals have taken place largely behind closed doors.

Normally by this time of year the fun summer events in our farming calendar would be in full swing, with plenty to look forward to. The county shows, our GWCT charity clay shoot and, of course, in September, the ploughing matches. Farming can be a lonely business and we all look forward to these regular meet ups to chat about life in general, the weather, harvest results and of course to enjoy a pint or two.

So please take two minutes to read on and if you would like to chat to any of the team we are always on hand by phone or in person to discuss your farm business.

Despite all of the upheavals, the lockdown for our team was and continues to be an incredibly busy period. We have seen a significant level of interest in land purchase and farms to rent this year, from existing farmers looking to expand their farm operations as well as from younger people keen to get a foot on the farming ladder with a combination of farming and land support.

While the rental deals we have been working on have taken place largely behind closed doors, we can say we have been acting for both outgoing and incoming tenant farmers and landowners of significant sized holdings across Kent and Sussex. We have seen a continual demand this year for arable land to rent, especially that with irrigation water and despite the prospect of BPS payments reducing in the future. The recent news that greening requirements will be abolished in the future will also be a great relief to many farmers and their agents.

It is hardly surprising that farmers are turning to farm business tenancies (FBT) when the supply of land for sale is still constrained. Publicly marketed farmland nationally still remains at an all-time low, with only 36,000 acres available on the market for the first six months of 2020.

A 10-year FBT gives you the time to invest in the land and look after it – a better deal for both the landowner and the tenant and something which I suspect we may see more of in the future. Why? Because with issues of succession and faced with the prospect of falling stock markets and the tax implications of selling land, many landowners are seeking the tax efficiencies and, if affordable, landowners favour the ability to retain control by letting land to receive a steady income. There might of course be a child in future generations who would like to take up the farming reins once again.

If you are taking on a new FBT, it is important to think about finances and funding for the extra costs to drill, maintain, harvest and store crops and this takes time to plan. We have seen positive attitudes from banks and specialist lenders such as AMC over the past few months, but it is understandably taking a little longer to process paperwork.

For those looking to buy land we have a number of parcels of land and woodland for sale. For sale at Selling are 55.1 acres of Grade I and II fruit and arable land with a guide price of offers over £785,000. Spring Field, for sale in Hunton nr Maidstone, is 43.07 acres of Grade II and III arable land fronting the River Beult with a guide price of £350,000. Harty Fields at Oare nr Faversham is also for sale, offering 10.6 acres of pastureland with a building and ecological, environmental and sporting opportunities adjoining the north Kent marshes with offers in the region of £100,000 invited.

Turning to the rural property market, we have seen a significant level of interest in country properties this year, including letting opportunities for equestrian businesses. New Barn Farm at Ospringe near Faversham is for sale, a residential smallholding with 17 acres and a range of general purpose agricultural and equestrian buildings with a guide price of £850,000.

Looking ahead to the future, there is going to be a much greater emphasis on the green agenda, and the value of land with natural assets will become more important. We have a range of woodland for sale across Kent and Sussex including Harris Copse near Wouldham, consisting of 27.7 acres of woodland in the North Downs overlooking the Medway Valley with offers in excess of £110,000. Post Wood at Shadoxhurst is for sale and comprises 46.67 acres of conservation woodland with rides and Wealden Ponds throughout with a guide price of £280,000.

Finally, for farms with diversified interests it hasn’t been the easiest of times since March and some might be wondering if it is worth carrying on with specific projects. We have certainly seen some inventive and creative thinking to keep rural business interests ticking over and I hope we will all be inclined to buy British and to support local businesses in the future. Before taking any decisions about your land or property interests, why not get in touch to discuss various options?

Pictured: Post Wood, Shadoxhurst


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