RESIDENTIAL sales may have been on hold due to Covid-19 rules, but demand has been strong for farmland, claims the head of a Wigton land agency.

Craig Brough this month marks 12 months since he took over the reins as Head of Land Agency at Hopes Auction Company, and he says the year has been busy with a large number of land sales taking place both on and off the market.

"Whilst the Covid issues meant we couldn’t bring residential property to the market, bare land sales continued, with an excellent block of arable land at Plumpton meeting significant demand and selling well to a local farming business."

Hopes are due to bring more property to the market in coming weeks, with recently launched properties seeing land at Thorneythwaite, near Wigton, and Low House Farm, near Rosley, meeting "very buoyant" demand, despite viewings at Low House taking place in the first week under strict Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Brough added a large amount of time of past months has been spent in dialogue with both the county council and Carlisle City Council regarding their plans for the Carlisle Southern Link Road and the proposed St Cuthbert’s Garden village, but he said the planning application for the road scheme was progressing much more slowly than first envisaged.

“The process has highlighted that the importance of early dialogue with the acquiring authority is vital to ensure the impact on your property is understood by them and factors can be fed into the design stage. Anybody who is affected by the recently announced A66 dualling scheme who requires advice should not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your concerns.”

At the beginning of the year, Craig saw a flurry of enquiries for planning applications from new agricultural buildings to change of use for a rural diversification scheme and two agricultural workers dwelling planning approvals. They had also submitted just short of 100 applications on behalf of clients for the Basic Payment Scheme, and are busy with Mid Tier Stewardship applications. "There are a significant range of options and capital items available which can be put together to benefit most farming businesses in some way and should definitely be given consideration as we start to see a decline in BPS values in coming years,” he said.