Farmland owned by the council could be sold off to raise money.
The suggestion is listed in Central Beds Council’s brief for developing the Farm Estate Strategy 2013 to 2023.
The council’s farm estate comprises 6,200 acres of land, some of which is near Biggleswade, Potton, Sutton, Dunton, Beeston, Moggerhanger, Charlton, Haynes, Arlesey, Stotfold and Shillington.
The brief states that although councils should ensure that young people have the opportunity to become farmers, “with the economic difficulties of 2009 onwards a number of local authorities have decided to sell off significant numbers of their farms.”
It cites Somerset County Council, which decided to sell many of its farms in 2010 without attracting any legal challenges.
A suggested objective in the strategy is to “support economic regeneration by identifying a land bank of suitable sites for future Local Development Framework allocation, social housing, care opportunities and so on.”
However it admits that council farms are “an important first step for people to start on the farming ladder.”
Retained farms could be amalgamated with a target size of 500 acres.