Three plots of land are up for grabs for would-be farmers on a tight budget.

Brighton-based company Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) has been granted temporary planning permission by Wealden District Council to transform a 7.5 hectare maize field into three affordable smallholdings.

Aspiring farmers are encouraged to submit their business plans to take over the plots, which are in Arlington and priced between £100,000 and £130,000 each with a 20 per cent down payment followed by a rent-to-buy scheme.

Oliver Bettany, of ELC, said: “We are welcoming applications from new entrant farmers with at least two years of active agricultural work such as on an allotment, as farming is a labour intensive career.

“The price of the holdings is fixed so we are not looking for the highest bidder.

“Instead, we are looking for applicants who can demonstrate that they will be able to establish and manage an ecological farm business appropriate to the site, its natural resources and location.

“Applicants will need to submit a detailed business plan and will live on the site in a dwelling made from natural materials which is fully reversible so it can be taken away again if necessary.”

Oliver, who lives on Wapsbourne Manor Farm in Uckfield, added: “Our projects benefit local communities through sustainable food production.

“With the creation of three new smallholdings of mixed farms, the Arlington site will be designed to become more biologically diverse and ecologically resilient.”

Councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “There are concerns about the long-term viability of these smallholdings particularly around competition, routes to market and where the workers can live, but there are many encouraging aspects to these ventures which have worked in other counties.”

The deadline for applicants is midnight on November 7.

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