Farmland demand sends prices soaring

TOWN dwellers fleeing the urban rat race are causing a property boom in farming areas across Coventry and Warwickshire.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published a report which shows agricultural land prices have soared.

The West Midlands, including large areas of the Warwickshire countryside, tops the table as the most sought-after location in the country.

Farmland prices in the West Midlands rose faster than anywhere else in the UK in the second quarter of 2006, up 27 per cent compared with the same quarter last year.

This sharp regional increase is more than double the national average increase in farmland prices - of 9 per cent - and is the highest rise ever reported by the RICS' rural land market survey.

greenfield greenbelt

Farmland sales activity is also nearing a four-year high.

Steven McLaughlin, RICS spokesman and rural specialist, said: "Demand for farmland in the West Midlands has never been higher.

"It has been boosted partly by Irish farmers looking to take advantage of cheaper land prices in the UK and by sustained interest in rural living.

"We are also seeing much more farmland coming on to the market in the West Midlands and this, combined with the record levels of demand, is leading to a sharp increase in sales activity across the region.

"We expect demand for commercial and residential farmland in the West Midlands to continue to grow in the coming months."

Demand was boosted following the resolution of problems over the Single Farm Payments scheme - part of a package aimed at reforming the EU Common Agricultural Policy - which has been dogged by governmental delays.

Demand for commercial farmland remains strong and the rise in residential farmland continues to reflect this year's housing market boom, and RICS said this was being fuelled by hefty city bonuses helping Londoners pay for homes in the country.

But non-residential land outpaced that of residential land, rising at the fastest pace in the survey's history.

Chartered surveyors predict that the residential market will remain buoyant, spurred by a strong economy and housing market., 10.08.2006

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