After months of negotiation, bidding and counter-bidding, Pembrokeshire County Council has announced today (Wednesday) that it will sell a controversial county farm by way of public auction.

Trecadwgan Farm, in Solva, was originally put up for auction in July 2019.

The Save Trecadwgan Farm group, which hopes to create a community farm at the site, raised £50,000 in a bid to convince the council to take it out of the auction and give them time to prepare a business plan and seek finance.

Third parties who would allow the group to use the site successfully bid for the farm in November. However, contractual negotiations with the council, regarding an overage clause, caused a funder to back out.

Another backer was quickly found and at the beginning of December that backer was successful in a bidding process, with the bid being formally accepted.

However, on January 7, a higher offer was accepted and, despite the process having closed at 12 noon on December 13, the group felt they had effectively been “gazumped”.

On Monday, February 10, group member, Sue Denman, said that a bidding process was still underway with the agent acting for the council repeatedly asking the group if they wanted to put in counter offers against a rival bidder.

“It is a long drawn out frustrating process with no certainty that the community will secure Trecadwgan Farm,” she said.

Today (Wednesday) Pembrokeshire Council has announced the farm will be sold at public auction “in order to bring the sale process to a conclusion and give interested parties a fair and transparent opportunity to purchase Trecadwgan Farm.”

The council says that the offer was accepted on the basis of the council’s duty under section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to obtain the highest amount of money possible for the property.

“The statutory duty and supporting case law relevant to the sale of property by local authorities indicates that the council has a duty to give consideration to any offer made,” said an authority spokesman.

“The council has now received a number of further higher offers to purchase the farm.”

Cllr Bob Kilmister, cabinet member for finance, added: “Having originally taken the property out of the auction at the request of the community group, the council has, due to the statutory provisions, found itself in a difficult and time-consuming sales process.

“Therefore to ensure that the sale process can be brought to a conclusion and ensure that all interested parties are given a fair and transparent opportunity to purchase the farm, the council has decided to sell the farm by way of a public auction.”

Cllr Kilmister went on to explain that it is sound practice that local authorities should dispose of surplus land wherever possible.

“Generally it is expected that land should be sold for the best consideration reasonably obtainable,” he said.

He went onto say that, although there are circumstances where a council can dispose of land at a price below its commercial value the authority had decided not to do so in this instance.

“On the basis that the farm will create a substantial capital receipt which is essential given the severe financial pressures the council is presently facing.”

Trecadwgan Farm will go to auction on Wednesday, March 4, at Parc y Scarlets. It is listed with estate agents John Francis at a guide price of around £650,000.