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A quarter of England's 2018 farmland sales were in the East, says report

PUBLISHED: 09:36 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 18 January 2019

A quarter of England's farmland sales in 2018 were in the Eastern counties, says rural agency Savills. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A quarter of England's farmland sales in 2018 were in the Eastern counties, says rural agency Savills. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

The East of England accounted for a quarter of all farmland sold in the country during 2018, according to research by rural property agents.

Christopher Miles, director of rural agency at Savills in Norwich. Picture: Richard MarshamChristopher Miles, director of rural agency at Savills in Norwich. Picture: Richard Marsham

Savills’ annual farmland value survey shows a total of 33,200 acres were marketed in the region last year, compared with 14,100 acres in 2017 – an increase of 135pc. For England as a whole, the increase was 31pc for the same period.

The report also shows the average value of prime arable land in the eastern counties fell by 1.8pc in 2018, to £8,770 per acre.

Meanwhile, the average value of the region’s grade three livestock land remained stable at £4,500 per acre.

Christopher Miles, director of rural agency at Savills in Norwich, said: “2018 was characterised by larger lot sizes, which we were often instructed to sell privately, and supply was up on 2017 – particularly in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, even after accounting for our marketing of Strutt and Parker (Farms) Ltd.

Emily Norton, head of the Savills Rural Research team. Picture: Richard MarshamEmily Norton, head of the Savills Rural Research team. Picture: Richard Marsham

“Values were broadly in line with 2017 but with huge variations, particularly for bare land blocks which ranged in value from £7,000 per acre to £13,000 per acre.

“The very fact that prices remained broadly the same – despite the massive increase in supply and uncertainties around Brexit and agricultural subsidies – shows that it remains a favoured investment for many.

“Farms with diverse income streams or good infrastructure were most in demand. Unsurprisingly farmers represented a dwindling proportion of buyers with investors, landowners and lifestyle buyers making up the majority.

“Looking forward we see more of the same. Until the political situation is clearer we expect a lower supply for the early part of 2019.”

The survey also looks at long term trends which might affect the market.

Emily Norton, head of the Savills Rural Research team, added: “Over the next three to five years we do predict an increase in liquidity and in the longer term there are likely to be some very significant changes in land use driven by environmental and climate change targets.

“We do not anticipate a repeat of the price increase recorded in the decade to 2014, but we do expect the market to return to its long term historical real-term growth of around 1pc per annum (ie 1pc above inflation).”

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