A new category of buyers drives up land prices in the South West

Buyers eager to buy land for environmental reasons drove up prices in the Southwest.

This new type of ‘biodiversity buyer’ has emerged over the past 12 months, looking for farmland that might be suitable for environmentally oriented activities such as tree planting.

“The majority of buyers in this category that I’ve spoken with aren’t necessarily motivated by government policy or revenue generation – it’s more of a personal interest,” said Arthur Chambers, partner at Carter Jonas.

And this new category has helped to underpin the value of the land, adds David Hebditch, partner of Carter Jonas. The latest figures show that arable land in the South West has sold for an average of £ 9,750 an acre, an annual increase of 14.7%. Pastures fetched an average price of £ 8,000 per acre and an annual increase of 10.3%.

“Woodlots in particular have increased significantly in value,” says Hebditch. “And the small boulders of dirt also attracted a premium.

“Plots of one or two acres, on the edge of a village, to be used as a pony pen or simply to protect the amenities of a village, are in great demand right now. “

Such plots can attract figures of up to five times their farm value, or around £ 20,000 to £ 50,000 per acre.

Londoners keen to leave the city and buy property in the country have driven demand for lifestyle properties with adjoining land, especially in hot spots such as Castle Cary and Bruton.

Mr Chambers does not predict a huge flood of properties on the market this spring, unless new reasons for the sale emerge.

“There is a lot of talk right now about replacing the basic payment regime with environmental land management regimes and what that will mean in practice,” he said. “The general feeling is that it will mean more work for less money, but we still don’t have the exact details.

“We are also talking about the government plan to pay older farmers when they retire. I see no evidence that there will be a huge adoption of this just yet – the government underestimates the sentimental attachment farmers have to their farms, which have often been in their families for generations.

However, he advises anyone wishing to register their land or property in the spring to start discussions with an agent as soon as possible.

“Name an agent and a lawyer and start planning now,” he says. “The market is good right now and we expect it to stay that way. But it’s probably faster to find a buyer and close a sale than it is to go from the agreed sale to finalization. There are a lot of things you can do before you put your property on the market to reduce this period of time.