First Norfok county farm tenancy for 10 years

Michael Pollitt, agricultural editorFor the first time in more than 10 years, a tenant has an opportunity to take a Norfolk county council smallholding.The 72-acre mixed Osier Farm at Mautby near Great Yarmouth is the first to become available since the council reversed its long-term policy.Michael Pollitt, agricultural editor

For the first time in more than 10 years, a tenant has an opportunity to take a Norfolk county council smallholding.

The 72-acre mixed Osier Farm at Mautby near Great Yarmouth is the first to become available since the council reversed its long-term policy.

Mid Norfolk farmer and cabinet member, Bill Borrett, said: "I'm really looking forward to somebody who has perhaps not farmed on their own account taking on the farm."

"We've got the policy of keeping the estate because previously farms have been sold or amalgamated. What I want is somebody who has perhaps been involved in farming and it is their first time to have their own operation, so it is a step for them.


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Mr Borrett, who is the cabinet member for corporate affairs, hoped to find a successful tenant prepared to be "innovative and dynamic".

He added: "We want to give people like that who might not have had too many opportunities in the agricultural sector to get a stepping stone to get on."

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A long-term strategy has been agreed by mebers after much debate and discussion. "I'm aware that a lot of the buildings on the estate are not in ideal conditions - agricultural buildings as well as some houses. There's a lot to do.

"It is a big task to start and it will not be completed overnight. But I would like to be in a position in 10 years that people can look back and see where we've got the estate to."

The county farms' portfolio now had a guaranteed stream of investment available, which would make it possible to plan ahead.

"It is a good compromise which benefits the county farms and hopefully the county council. The estate has a backlog of repairs.

"With the finance we've got, it is not unreasonable to say that it is our aim and our aspiration to have all the properties on the estate in A1 condition.

"I'm very excited about the future of county farms because for the first time in 40 years, actually since the 1950s and maybe even longer, there's a coherent plan for county farms.

"Now it is a really exciting time for county farms. There's a strategy in place and there's investment in place to back up that strategy and there's the clear political will to see it through.

"So we've got something which is stable and has a good long life."

"We are investing in the county farms estate and as far as I'm concerned, it has a future. And yes it does mean change and with new agents managing half the estate, it is an unsettling time.

"The county farms will be able to invest its rents and that's where the future investment flow will be. Before that money went into county council receipts and was not returned to the county farms' estate."

Mr Borrett said that by having two agents managing the estate, some innovative solutions and ideas for the estate may emerge.

"We want to use it as a hotbed of innovation solutions, as it were, and help to drive agriculture in Norfolk forward.

"If we've got tenants with good ideas who want to do things slightly off the wall, I'd like to be able to say 'We'll support you in that and help you with your diversification and other ideas'.

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