Peterborough farmland will not be sold off in new city council strategy

Peterborough farmland
Peterborough farmland
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A ‘difficult relationship’ between Peterborough City Council and tenant farmers is said to be improving as the council pushes ahead with a new strategy for its Farms Estate.

Cabinet member Councillor David Seaton admitted the attempt to produce wind and solar projects in farmland in Newborough and Thorney had not gone down well with farmers.

But Cllr Seaton, who is responsible for resources, believes the relationship is improving following the scrapping of the projects last year.

The cabinet today (Monday, July 20) produced a new strategy for its 3,007 acre Farms Estate which was produced by a specially set-up Task and Finish Group.

The group recommended that the land should not be completely sold for profit, but it said agricultural property could be bought to increase the estate and less valuable parts sold off.

New tenants will also be favoured if they include proposals for local food production and marketing.

In addition, current tenants will not be forced to retire when they turn 65, and work will go ahead with Peterborough Regional College to develop its rural curriculum.

It is estimated the Farms Estate is worth £14.5 million.

It is located in three areas of the city: Newborough, Thorney and Fengate.

Newborough has nearly 90 per cent of the estate by area.

While the council believes it would make a profit over 25 years from selling the estate, it says it would earn a surplus of £7.2 million over 50 years from keeping the estate as it is now.

This is because borrowing costs end after 25 years.

Jonathan Lewis, the council’s service director: education, resources and corporate property, said the new plan would make sure the estate is a productive asset.

He added that the biggest problem is that the majority of farmers are aged over 60, hence the need to educate more young people.

View: The strategy in full.