Tenancy application process

Hampshire County Farms provides an inclusive gateway into farming, with all the opportunities and responsibilities a farming business will involve

All our applicants must be able to show they are eligible for a county farm.  Find out what skills and experience we are looking for.

There’s a seven step process to applying to become a Hampshire County Farms tenant:

Expression of interest

If you’re interested in one of our available holdings, you’ll need to fill in an Expression of Interest form. This helps us ensure you meet the eligibility requirements for becoming a tenant.

You will need to have a minimum of five years’ appropriate practical experience of farming to be eligible for a farm tenancy, of which up to three years of appropriate further education or training can be included.

Viewing days

Once you have submitted your Expression of Interest form and it has been accepted, we will invite you to book onto a viewing day.

We will usually arrange at least one formal viewing day that the Rural Estates Team will also attend. Sometimes there is another chance to view the farm at or beyond full submission stage. If there will be another viewing opportunity then this will be listed within the farm particulars.

Access is usually made available to the farmhouse and all buildings and/or land to be let. If you want to make an application to become a tenant for a holding, you must attend an arranged viewing day.

Outline application stage

Once you’ve had your Expression of Interest form accepted and attended a viewing day, you’ll need to submit an outline application. You will be asked to complete an application form, for which you’ll normally be given a deadline.

You won’t need to provide full financial information at this stage but you will need to explain why you’re interested in the tenancy. You should include how you would plan to farm and look after the holding. This will include outlining the key opportunities and threats for the farm (or proposed enterprise) over the next 7 to 10 years, providing any ideas you have about diversification. We will also ask for an indicative action plan for how you would deliver Hampshire County Farms’ priorities for the farm and other ecological, climate and landscape enhancement measures.

We generally require our tenants to deliver the following priority outcomes on our farms. Think about how you will work towards them.

Our priority outcomes

  • keep sustainable food production at the core of farm activities
  • protect the farm’s soil health and structure, keeping it in good condition and putting in organic matter content
  • protect the farm's natural resources including the local water environment which will be vulnerable to nitrate and pesticide leaching
  • improve on-farm biodiversity and connectivity between neighbouring farms, local sites of importance for nature conservation, and within the wider landscape through good management and by providing joined-up wildlife-rich habitats
  • strive towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions with a well-considered plan for monitoring, mitigation and adaptation
  • boost pollinators and promote farmland bird abundance on farm through good management, monitoring and land management practices
  • farm sustainably, adopt better performance measures, with a willingness to undergo independent accreditation and/or periodic auditing to evidence strong performance
  • adopt and uphold exemplar animal welfare standards
  • engage with the public and play an active part in increasing the understanding of farming and rural Hampshire in the local community

You should also include an exit strategy for moving on from the council farm after the end of the tenancy, and your aspirations for the future.

After the submission deadline, applicants will be shortlisted.

Full application stage

If you are shortlisted, we will invite you to provide a detailed business plan and full budgets, together with a rent tender. You will submit most of your application in a business plan format. We will also send you another application form to complete.

You’ll have the opportunity to completely revisit the information you provided in your outline application. You can revise it as you wish and add further information to create a comprehensive proposal. We will give you guidance about the minimum expectations of your business plan. You will also need to supply financial and personal references.

There will be a deadline for submitting your full application.

Vetting and shortlisting

We will assess the full applications and if you are shortlisted we will invite you to an interview. You will need to provide documentary evidence of enough working capital to run the holding if you haven’t already provided this.

Part of the vetting process, before or after the interview, could include a visit to your current home and/or place of work.

Interviews and decision making

Interviews are normally held in our Winchester offices. At least two Hampshire County Council officers will usually interview the applicants.

We aim to inform candidates of our decision as quickly as possible after your interview. The decision will be subject to contract and formal Council approval.

If you are successful, we will provide you with tenancy documentation (Farm Business Tenancy agreement). We can usually arrange for you to visit the farm again if required. We can also arrange discussions between you and the outgoing tenants about purchasing tenant fixtures and fittings and so on.

Farm Action Plan

Before you take over the farm, we will ask you to revisit your business plan once again. You will need to finalise a Farm Action Plan for the first five years of your tenancy agreement. This will set out how you will deliver natural resource protection and enhancement at the farm, as well as any other priorities.

Your Farm Action Plan may be included as an appendix within the tenancy agreement. You might also need to review and renew the Farm Action Plan before the fifth year of your tenancy or at a time agreed with Hampshire County Farms.