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The County Farms Estate plays an important role in helping to deliver Cambridgeshire County Council’s corporate priorities.

1. Estate Objectives

1.1 The estate will be managed to optimise the income and development returns to produce a target revenue return to the council of 4%.

1.2 To manage the estate to promote rural businesses and healthy living and to protect the environment.

2. Estate Policies

2.1 Disposals and Acquisitions

Disposals from the estate should only be considered:

  • As part of an agreed sale in line with the approved council’s outline disposal process for property assets;
  • If the asset has no strategic value or is beyond economic use and does not contribute to the council’s objectives;
  • As part of agreed land swap deals with local landowners.
  • Where the asset is for an agreed social or environmental benefit and there is no long-term strategic value for its retention.

Acquisitions should be considered where the asset to be purchased:

  • Provides strategic value to the rural estate and is in line with the council’s overarching strategic objectives;
  • Produces a revenue return in line with the council’s investment strategy;
  • Replaces land sold for development purposes; or
  • Is identified as having long term potential development value;
  • As part of agreed land swap deals with local landowners.

3. Estate Commercialisation

3.1 Non-Agricultural Development

To continue to take a fully commercial approach to promoting potential development sites, including for renewable energy projects where appropriate, and Permitted Development in order to support the council’s broader financial and investment strategies.

3.2 Farm Diversification

To consider tenant-led diversification on the estate. Subject to the receipt of suitable business plans, agreement to pay an improvement charge at the council’s standard investment threshold and if appropriate the creation of a separate tenancy agreement.

To consider converting suitable farm buildings for office, retail, industrial or mixed use schemes where accompanied by a detailed business case demonstrating that each scheme creates a revenue return in line with the council’s investment strategy.

4. Agriculture

4.1 Tenant Selection

The council will use its Tenant Selection Criteria as set out to inform its selection of potential applicants.

4.2 Tenancy Renewals

Existing tenants will follow the same application process set out above.

Tenants will be expected to demonstrate how they have grown their business successfully and how they intend to develop their business in order to merit a new tenancy.

4.3 Farm Sizes and Composition

To provide a variety of farm sizes which will allow new entrants to start and others to progress into larger more commercial holdings at market rents. This will encourage new entrants and current tenants to expand their businesses on a commercial basis.

The main characteristics of a holding may include:

  • Compact blocks of land with good internal access between fields;
  • Suitable dwellings with good amenities;
  • Land and buildings conveniently located, where possible, in relation to the dwelling with good access and yard;
  • Suitable general purpose type farm buildings with good eaves height.

There is no fixed acreage for full time commercial farms, as this will reflect the profitability of the likely enterprises undertaken which is linked to land quality and soil type.

Where additional land of 1 hectare or more is to be added to a tenancy, the tenant will surrender their existing tenancy agreement and will be granted a new Farm Business Tenancy.

4.4 Tenancy Length

All new tenants will be offered a tenancy agreement for a minimum term of 10 years.

On the expiration of their current tenancy but subject to a successful application, existing tenants will be offered a tenancy agreement of up to 15 years.

All tenancy renewals of more than 2 years will be subject to a formal application process set out above.

4.5 Rent

Agricultural rents will normally be charged at a commercial level, payable half yearly in arrears.

Notices to Quit will be served for non-payment of rent after any statutory notice periods for AHA tenancies have elapsed or, for all tenancies, where tenants have broken agreed payment plans without the written agreement of the council’s officers.

Rent payment dates for non-agricultural leases will be agreed by negotiation before the new lease’s commencement.

4.6 Sub-letting

In normal circumstances, sub-letting or allowing a formal contract farming agreement on the estate will not be permitted; however, sub-letting land for specialist cropping will be considered on the holding to help improve a holding’s soil, rotation or viability.

Sub-letting for specialist cropping will be permitted for no more than 20% of the holding in each year, subject to agreeing a cropping licence with the council beforehand. Priority will be given to current council tenants, with the emphasis placed on the tenant sub-letting to prove that there is no demand from other council tenants before agreement is reached with a non-estate farmer.

Consideration may be given, in exceptional circumstances, to sub-let dwellings in the final 5 years of a tenancy, with prior agreement from the council.

4.7 Retirement and Succession


Renewals of existing tenancy agreements will run to the retirement age set out within the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (AHA). The council will amend its retirement age in line with any changes to the AHA.

Where a tenant wishes to farm beyond the AHA retirement age, a further tenancy agreement for up to 3 years may be granted where this does not impact on the council’s broader strategy. The tenant will be required to go through the renewal process outlined above.


Whilst there is no formal right of succession on the estate, current existing tenants’ close relatives (as defined within the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986) may apply for a tenancy of the holding through the renewal process outlined above.

5. Investment and Maintenance

5.1 Investment

The council will seek to invest in the estate proactively where investment produces a return to the council in excess of the council’s investment threshold or where there are overriding strategic gains to the council or estate. This is subject to the receipt of suitable business plans, agreement to pay an improvement charge at the council’s standard investment threshold and if appropriate the creation of a separate tenancy agreement.

5.2 Maintenance

The council will maintain dwellings and buildings as per the maintenance and repairing liabilities set out in the relevant tenancy agreement.

To reduce the councils long term maintenance, by identifying for sale any dwellings and buildings which are beyond their economic repair and have no strategic value.

6. Environment and Social

To manage the woodlands and other environmental assets, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Ancient Monuments, to retain and improve community benefits.

Where appropriate plant new woodland either to help create new community assets, or as part of carbon offsetting where suitable management agreements or leases are completed.

To retain the existing in-hand land management schemes and look for opportunities for new, appropriate schemes that enhance or promote the estate’s main objectives.

To promote the use of land management schemes to farm tenants across the whole estate to improve both biodiversity and permissive access.

To create new rights of way where appropriate and to promote the use of existing permissive access and rights of way on County Farms land.

To support the delivery of the council’s Corporate Energy Strategy where appropriate. Projects will be assessed on a case by case basis.