Smallholding For Sale In Wales

Image showing a smallholding for sale in Wales
Finding a smallholding for sale in Wales has become more difficult in recent years as many people gravitate toward the country lifestyle. Photo © Richard Law (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Buying a smallholding for sale in Wales

Waking up in the morning to fresh country air and tending to animals, vegetable plots and enjoying a rural lifestyle is a dream once only followed by those born and brought up in the country. Nowadays many people want to live that dream of living in a country property and finding that ideal is what drives so many people to seek a smallholding for sale in Wales.

In this article we shall attempt to divert from the dream and talk about realities, including how to begin finding a smallholding for sale in Wales, what owning a smallholding involves and how buying land in the UK can open a new lifestyle for you and your family.

What is a smallholding?

A smallholding is an ambiguous term that can refer to any piece of land under 50 acres. In reality, most smallholdings in the UK are between 3 and 15 acres and the land can be arable land, non-arable land such as grazing or hill ground, or a mixture between the two.

In Scotland there are smallholdings known as crofts and the crofting lifestyle is a form of subsistence farming. Crofts are also smallholdings and many crofters work a ‘day job’ in addition to owning their land. This type of lifestyle has existed for a few hundred years in both crofts in Scotland and smallholdings in Wales.

Image showing rough land on a smallholding in Wales
A smallholding in Wales may not always have good arable land, it may consist of hill ground, some arable land or a mixture of the two. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

What is the difference between a smallholding and a farm?

A smallholding is generally smaller than a farm and may not contain any kind of building, whereas a farm is usually larger and contains many agricultural buildings as well as some kind of farmhouse. The key difference is that a farm is designed to make money through it’s agricultural activities, whereas a smallholding is does not normally make money.

If you are buying a smallholding for sale in Wales you are buying into a lifestyle rather than a business proposition. For those who wish to support themselves with larger amounts of animals or land and possibly even turn a profit, it may be wiser to look for derelict farms for sale around the UK.

Buying a smallholding is a form of lifestyle and normally not a profitable venture. Unless you are very fortunate, do not expect to make money owning a smallholding in the UK

Image showing a smallholding with a derelict building
A smallholding in Wales may or may not contain a building. A good idea is to look for smallholdings with derelict buildings which can be renovated. Photo © Derek Mayes (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Buying a smallholding with a derelict building

Normally when you own a smallholding in Wales you are allowed to erect buildings, such as agricultural or storage buildings, in order for the smallholding to function. This does not mean you are allowed to build a house on a smallholding in Wales. So what can be done if you want to buy a smallholding to live on?

There are three scenarios which may apply when it comes to property on a smallholding:

  • Buy a smallholding in Wales with a existing habitable house
  • Find a smallholding with a derelict building
  • Attempt to gain planning permission to build a new house

Many smallholdings for sale in Wales do have a perfectly liveable house as part of the land package, however if you are buying a property like this you should expect to pay substantially more, as the house itself has an intrinsic value as does the land and any other buildings which may exist.

Smallholdings in Wales FAQ

How big is a smallholding?

While a smallholding can be anything under 50 acres, most smallholdings are between 3 and 15 acres. The average size of a smallholding in Wales is 8 acres and the average croft in Scotland is 13 acres. The smallholding may consist of some arable, some non-arable or a mixture of both.

Do I need planning permission to build on a smallholding?

The answer is almost certainly yes. While you may not need formal permission to erect agricultural or smaller storage buildings, you should talk to the local planning department before you make any purchase if your plan is to build a house. Even if you purchase a smallholding with an existing abandoned building, you will still need planning permission to renovate the property.

Can I live in a caravan on my smalholding?

You can live in a caravan on your smallholding if you are in the process of building a house or renovating a property. While you should still check with the local planning department, in most cases they will permit you to place a static caravan on the property as temporary accommodation while work is underway. In other cases, you may live on a temporary basis in a caravan on land but not as a permanent home. Check with your local authority as rules vary around the country.

Buying land in Wales with an existing house in habitable condition is not any different than any other form of house purchase, apart from the land costing extra money. This type of purchase is fine if you have the money but is not a way to buy cheap land for sale as the price will be higher.

Taking your time and finding a derelict property with land for sale is probably a much better option. This method allows you to obtain a smallholding with the possibility of renovating a derelict building into a home. If there is already an abandoned building on the site it usually becomes easier to obtain permission for renovation.

Our third option involves obtaining planning permission to build a new house on a smallholding where no house currently exists. This is a lot more difficult, although not impossible, but before you purchase any land for sale in Wales you discuss your ideas with the planning department of the Welsh Government. The last thing you want is to buy the land then find out permission will not be granted.

Image showing a smallholding in Wales with a house
If you find a smallholding for sale in Wales with a habitable house it is likely to cost you a lot more money than land with no buildings. Photo © John Sutton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Finding a smallholding for sale in Wales

When searching for your smallholding you can, of course, look on the main property websites and the usual channels, but there is a far more productive method which is likely to yield much better results.

Firstly, decide on which part of Wales you would actually live in. Be honest with yourself as buying remote land in the Welsh mountains with no nearby amenities and a bad winter road is not for everyone. Once you have narrowed down your search area it’s time to plan a trip.

Rent a cottage or stay in a local hotel for a few days and simply drive around the area, keeping your eye open for derelict properties or land for sale. If you do spot a derelict house which appears to have some land around it, try to speak to locals to find out who owns the derelict property.

Additional Property Resources:
Derelict property for sale
Can I claim derelict land
Houses in need of renovation
Derelict property for sale in Scotland

You can do this by asking at the local post office, local pub or even calling in at the nearest farm. It is amazing the information which can be gained by politely making enquiries. In the case of a derelict building or abandoned house in Wales, it is possible the local farmer never even considered selling and may even be willing to give you some extra land around the property.

Do not barge in waving money and expect people to fall to their knees. Buying a smallholding in Wales, as we said earlier, is part of a lifestyle and this also means you have to fit in with the community and do things properly. Make the effort, be respectful and polite to landowners and in time you will make connections.

Perhaps your dream of finding a smallholding for sale in Wales will come true after all.

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