Town dwellers escaping the "madding crowd" are fuelling a boom in farmland prices, the surveyors' professional body said today.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said agricultural land prices enjoyed the highest rise in its rural land market survey, rising nine per cent year on year in second-quarter sales, with activity nearing a four-year high.
Prices in the West Midlands rose faster than anywhere else in the country during the period, with prices up 27 per cent on the same time last year.
Demand was boosted following the resolution of problems over the Single Farm Payments scheme - part of a package aimed at reforming the EU Common Agricultural Policy - which has been dogged by delays at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
But demand in both the residential and nonresidential sectors greatly exceeded supply.
The number of buyers looking for commercial farmland remains robust - a trend fuelled by Irish farmers buying into the UK market this quarter - with prices rising strongly.
Steven McLaughlin, Rics spokesperson and rural specialist, said: "Demand for farmland in the West Midlands has never been higher, boosted partly by Irish farmers looking to take advantage of cheaper land prices in the UK and by sustained interest in rural living.
"We are also seeing much more farmland coming to the market in the West Midlands and this combined with the record levels of demand, is leading to a sharp increase in sales activity.
"We expect demand to continue to grow."