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Everyone wants their own piece of the English countryside

Over the last few months, amenity sized blocks of land have become considerably more popular and therefore valuable. Andrew Ranson, farm and land agent at Stags, has a close look at the recent trends.

Most blocks of land in excess of 25 acres would be sold to farmers and the occasional investor, but why are the general public purchasing smaller blocks of land?

Over the last 30 years, amenity land lots have become increasingly popular, but since the first Lockdown 12 months ago, the public have re-connected with the countryside and the desire to own one’s own little piece of it has dramatically increased.

In the last month sales for amenity land lots have surged. Usually, this would be a relatively quiet month for this market, with many vendors preferring to leave marketing until later in Spring when everything is looking less wintery.

One such example is 4.75 acres on the Devon/Cornwall border. Stags sold it to the current vendor about 3.5 years ago, for a figure close to its guide of £40,000. Stags re-launched it onto the market on a Friday afternoon with a guide of £55,000 and a buyer from Buckinghamshire made a round trip that weekend, due to not being allowed to stay over because of restrictions. After missing two other recent Stags’ land opportunities, he made an offer the next working day of more than 25% over the guide, which secured him the land!

Having also marketed six land lots throughout Cornwall during March, many of the lots generated over 50 viewings in about two weeks and sales have been agreed on all six lots in excess of the guide prices.

In many cases the buyers come from out of the area, but there is also considerable demand from local buyers.

Andrew Ranson points out, "In a good number of cases, when buying, purchasers have no clear purpose for the land; they just know that they want own some land. Usually the catalyst in this situation might be the opportunity to purchase land very close to their home or perhaps they have had a windfall or inheritance that suddenly enables a purchase. I also think the Covid-19 pandemic has given people time to re-assess their priorities.”

The most sited reasons for buying land recently have included:

·         For enjoyment purposes - dog walking, for their children to play on, for wildlife watching, camping or just to "scratch about on’,

·         For conservation aims - such as tree planting or improving habitats for wildlife,

·         For keeping horses on

·         For a commercial dog enterprise - either doggie day care or for hiring out as an exclusive dog walking area,

·         The ‘Goodlife’ – aims to be more self-sufficient, to plant an orchard or to grow vegetables,

·         Carbon offsetting - this is a fast-growing reason for land purchase, particularly less productive land,

·         Environmental offsetting - where a developer is impacting on habitats in one area, they were required to create habitats in another,

·         For control purposes, privacy or as a buffer to benefit adjoining property.

Andrew Ranson clarifies, "In terms of what one might expect to pay for a small piece of land, you can generally apply the principle that the smaller it is (and therefore more affordable) the larger the market, which leads to a higher price per acre. Regularly the old bench mark of £10,000 per acre is dramatically exceeded and a 2-acre lot will often make the same price as 5 acres.” He adds, "Location will often influence the value far more than the quality of the land."

The market for “farmer sized” lots, has remained relatively untested, with most vendors choosing the more traditional time to market these. This is likely to see more of these coming on the market during the next six weeks.

For advice on selling, purchasing or the value of properties with land please contact Andrew Ranson on 01872 264488 or