news

Farnley Estates to put 1,500 acres of Huddersfield countryside up for sale

New owners needed for huge rural plot

Farnley Estates

A huge area of Huddersfield’s countryside is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Farnley Estates has confirmed it is putting its 1,500 acres of land on the market.

The family-owned private estate – mostly green belt and farmland – stretches for about five miles between Kirkburton and Brockholes around the village of Farnley Tyas.

The decision to put it up for sale comes after their once in a lifetime dream to launch Farnley Country Park was crushed by Kirklees Council.

The Sykes family said they needed to find a new way to make the land viable as the income from agriculture dwindled.

Farnley Estates owns 1,500 acres of land south of Huddersfield town centre

But their £150m plan to create an outdoor leisure facility featuring marked walks, cycle paths and woodland activities, did not make it into Kirklees Council’s planning blueprint, the Local Plan.

They hoped to emulate Forestry Commission owned sites such as Dalby Forest near Pickering in the North York Moors, which draws tens of thousands of tourists for its mountain biking, hiking and forest activities.

It was thought the park – which would have had a visitor centre base near Woodsome Hall Golf Course – could have created 400 jobs and boosted Kirklees’ tourism income by millions.

But plans to use some of the land for housing to finance the park were vetoed by the council amid protests by some local people.

Site of proposed huge country park by Farnley Estates in Huddersfield.

Estate boss Paul Sykes said he and his brother had taken six months to come to the decision to sell but said for him it was a relatively easy one to make.

He said: “Following the decision by Kirklees Council not to include Farnley Country Park in the Local Plan, despite the vastly reduced housing allocation which would have paid for the park’s creation, we’ve had to reconsider our future.

“The fact is that the estate takes a great deal of time and money to manage and maintain, and John and I are not getting any younger.

As well as providing the people of Huddersfield and beyond, with a country park that could have put Huddersfield well and truly on the tourist map, one of the key drivers behind Farnley Country Park was to create a legacy project for our children.

“This has not happened, so we’ve made the decision to sell.

“As we’ve said all along, Farnley Estates will have to change to meet the demands of the modern world.

“We believe new ownership is the best way to initiate that change.”

Mr Sykes said rumours were already running rife in the villages after farming tenants were told of the proposed sale.

He said it was impossible to speculate what would happen or put a value on the estate, but confirmed he personally was not leaving the area.

Farnley Estates Director Paul Sykes at the site of a proposed country park hub at the junction of Woodsome Road and Penistone Road, Huddersfield.

He added: “It’s early days and, even though the estate is not being marketed yet, there are already rumours that a number of commercial organisations have expressed an interest.

“The vast majority of it is green belt so I don’t anticipate that lots of building will happen.”

It is thought there have been just three owners of Farnley Estates over the past 700 years.

It’s believed that the original Farnley Tyas settlement dates back to the 11th century.

The village grew as a traditional agricultural estate, expanding significantly in the 18th century under the ownership of the Earl of Dartmouth.

The area survived the Industrial Revolution with mill building discouraged for fear of spoiling the countryside.

The land has continued to be farmed but today there are just four tenants.

The current owners are the Sykes family, who bought the estate in 1968 from the Earl of Dartmouth.

Brothers, John and Paul Sykes have actively managed the land, including farming tenancies, building projects and activities for the public such as horse riding and educational environmental programmes for children.

View full mobile page