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Rural plan targets profits for investment

Millions of pounds raised from some county council-owned farm sites will be used to support health and care, jobs, services and wider investment in Staffordshire.

Up to £20 million could be generated over the next few years by the sale of the ‘non-core’ part of the estate to invest in health and care and the county’s infrastructure.

Tenants at the selected farms will be offered the opportunity to buy first, but if they opt not to buy then the units will be sold with them as sitting tenants.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Economic Growth, said:

Unlike some other local authorities over the years we have invested in our farm estate to keep it viable and to maximise efficiency and value.

As part of that we regularly review our holdings and we will continue to invest in the future.

The estate will still be more than 6,600 acres and still give ambitious newcomers the opportunity to benefit from professional support and management as they gain experience and then step up to something bigger; either within the authority’s estate, or in the wider industry.

Our farms offer commercially-minded aspirational young people a foothold in the industry and our tenants make a valuable contribution to Staffordshire’s rural economy.”

The area selected for sale extends to around 1,700 acres and comprises 16 let farm holdings and other vacant land and property not considered to be part of the ‘core’ estate.

Part of the income raised will also be reinvested in the County Farms estate.

Mark Winnington said:

Money raised from land sales since 2013 has been put towards superfast broadband, building schools, roads and extra care facilities, as well as creating industrial estates such as i54 South Staffordshire, Redhill in Stafford and Liberty Park in Lichfield.

This is part of the process of investing in our future for the benefit of our residents.”

Tenants have been kept informed of progress and those at selected farms will be meeting managers soon to discuss the next steps.