The historic Laxton Village Estate, which is the only place in Europe still operating the medieval tradition of open field farming, could soon be bought by Nottinghamshire County Council.
The 1,900-acre site, near Ollerton, comprises agricultural land, ten homes, 17 farms, a pub, visitor centre and museum buildings. The farmland and associated houses are leased to 14 tenant farmers.
Situated in and around the picturesque village of Laxton, it has been advertised by estate agents at an asking price of £7 million.
The county council is weighing up the opportunity to buy the site, with a view to developing its potential as an educational hub, linked to the nearby Brackenhurst Campus. It would all be part of a project with Nottingham Trent University, which operates Brackenhurst.
Coun Kay Cutts, leader of the council, said: ”The Laxton Estate is a unique heritage asset and one of national and international significance.
“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure its status is protected, while its potential is fully developed.
“After discussions with Nottingham Trent University and other stakeholders, including tenants of the estate, we believe there is an exciting opportunity to achieve both.”
At its latest meeting on Wednesday, the council’s policy committee agreed to submit a formal expression of interest in Laxton.
Coun Cutts added: “This is a non-binding expression of interest at this stage, and the ultimate cost will be a significant factor in determining if our ambitions can be realised.
“However, we hope that a publicly-funded proposition, which respects and retains Laxton’s heritage and the farmers who work the three-field farming system, while developing it as an educational asset, will be looked upon favourably.”
The Laxton site is currently owned by the Crown Estate, one of the largest property managers in the UK.
It inherited Laxton from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Food in 1981, complete with a Parliamentary undertaking to conserve it.
The Crown Estate has indicated it may be willing to sell the land and has been inviting expressions of interest by the end of December with a view to exploring competitive bids in the new year.
Professor Edward Peck, the vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, said: “While discussions are in the early stages, we are keen to work with the county council to help find a viable future for the estate and to help preserve and protect the last remaining medieval farming system of its kind.”