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Guide for prospective tenants

Tenants – Who are we looking for?

We have high expectations of our tenants. They are expected to:

  • Develop viable businesses as a sole or main form of employment, corresponding with the size of holding occupied.
  • Accumulate machinery for future progression.
  • Produce quality products.
  • Be innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • Be co-operative with other tenants as well as the landlord and managing agents.
  • Have the necessary practical and management skills to react to changing circumstances.
  • Enhance and protect the biodiversity of holdings.
  • Improve carbon management through soil protection.

The county council has established strict criteria for the tenants it wishes to appoint. Applicants must be able to demonstrate and provide evidence that they meet these criteria:

  1. Applications from persons who are already established farmers in their own right and who intend to run the County Farm as an extension to their existing business may apply but may not be considered in the first instance.
  2. Holdings are only available to persons who are prepared to farm them personally.
  3. Where a dwelling is provided, it is a general requirement for the tenant to reside at the holding.
  4. Tenants should not normally engage in any form of business other than agriculture, although complementary activities will be considered and encouraged in individual cases.
  5. Cambridgeshire County Council expects its tenants to demonstrate commitment to reducing carbon footprint and improving the environmental impact of holdings through regenerative farming, soil protection and deployment of environmental schemes. There is also an expectation that tenant farmers should maintain access to public rights of way, as well as creating new access paths, together with creating new woodlands and implementing environmental stewardship.
  6. Preference will always be given, when selecting tenants, to applicants who can demonstrate that they have the most suitable practical and theoretical knowledge required for the type of farming most suited to the available holding, with an emphasis of sustainable farming practices.
  7. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient working capital to establish the proposed business run it efficiently.
  8. In the case of holdings where farming is the main activity, applicants should be able to fulfil the minimum requirement of 5 years’ full-time practical farm work which may include up to 3 years attendance at a full-time course in agriculture.
  9. Where the main business proposal is non-agricultural, the applicant must be able to show sufficient experience and/or knowledge of the proposed enterprise.
  10. Applicants should normally be able to show that they have undertaken some formal training in the enterprise they propose to undertake and, all things being equal, preference will be given to these candidates. However, applicants may not be refused on these grounds alone if similar training and experience has been obtained in other demonstrable ways.
  11. Applicants will not be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or age.
  12. The rent payment record and general compliance with tenancy obligations of existing tenants will be taken into account if they apply for another holding on the County Farms Estate.
  13. Applicants who can demonstrate direct employment generation potential from their proposed business enterprise will have an enhanced likelihood of success.
  14. Existing tenants successfully applying for a progression holding will generally be required to surrender their existing holding as a condition of being offered the new holding, unless the council has operational reasons for not doing so.

Top tips for getting a foot on the farming ladder

  • Understand yourself - What are your objectives, strengths and weaknesses? What motivates you? Why do you want this farm? Do your skills and knowledge match the tenant profile/ letting particulars for the farm? By being honest with yourself from the start it will save time and energy applying for a farm that is not suitable for you.
  • Understand the council - The council has many wider objectives to achieve through the use of the Estate. If you want to be a tenant you should understand and preferably share its aims.
  • Understand the farm - Why does the council own the farm and what is important about it? Answering this key question will help you understand the type of management we would like to see.
  • Sell yourself! - From the moment you walk on to the farm on viewing day, to the application form, business plan and interview, you should sell yourself by showing good communication skills and a positive approach. Ask questions and don’t hide your skills and enthusiasm under a bushel.
  • Take your time to apply - Don’t rush the form filling. You might be a brilliant farmer but if your application is poor you might not shine through.
  • Do the maths - The council wants your business to succeed. You will be expected to provide thorough business plans that have been well thought out and are realistic.
  • Prepare for the interview - Most applicants have limited experience of formal interviews. If your application and business plan are good you may be selected for interview. Make sure you prepare thoroughly and practise.
  • Keep trying - Farm lettings are very competitive. If you don’t succeed at the first attempt, then find out what you could improve on and try again when the right opportunity arises.
  • Keep learning - Learning is a continuous process. Regularly assess the skills and knowledge you possess and seek further training and hands-on experience where needed.
  • Ask for help - There are many organisations who offer help with training and personal development. Private consultancies and land agency firms can also assist with farm finding and applications.

Application Process

  1. Available rural business opportunities will be advertised as early as possible through the local and national farming press, Cambridgeshire County Council website and social media. A detailed prospectus will be provided for each holding to be let.
  2. A viewing day will be held for all equipped holdings at which attendance will be compulsory for a successful application (except on bare land lettings). The Farms Team will host the viewing day and this will be the opportunity to see the farm first hand and assess the land, the buildings and the dwelling.
  3. Applications open - The entire application process is now only available online through the council’s website and no exceptions will be made. The application form is designed to capture your personal information, qualifications, work experience, current farming activity, a brief outline of your proposal and references. In addition to the application form, you will need to prepare and upload your business plan.
  4. Applications and Business plans are accessed. The assessment is undertaken by a panel of county council officers who will identify a short list of applicants to be taken forward to interview.
  5. The interviews are undertaken by officers from Strategic Assets. A three person panel will generally comprise some combination of the following: Group Asset Manager, Rural Asset Manager and one or two County Farms Rural Surveyors.
  6. A final decision will be communicated to each applicant interviewed by telephone, followed by an email.

For more information about applying for a tenancy, the letting process, and the assessment process please see the brochure below: