Campaigners have launched a search for investors, in a £1m race against time to buy a farm in Ickleford from the county council.

Hertfordshire County Council decided to put part of Lower Green Farm up for sale earlier this year.

But in the face of opposition from local residents, councillors agreed that no offer should be accepted for the site for three months – to give residents the chance to bid themselves.

Now the Save Lower Green Farm group – led by local resident Frances Barry – is looking for investors who will help them to purchase the site, which includes a farmhouse, a barn, 27 stables and 10-acres of farmland.

With less than six weeks until the council could start to consider bids, Ms Barry says there may not be enough time to raise £1m in donations or to seek funding through grants.

But she hopes the opportunity will attract investors who are looking to help them protect the space. And she says there are already people who are coming forward.

“We are very keen to see it fall into safe hands,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service. “And we don’t want to leave it to fate.”

“We want to play a part in that and make a bid that will ensure a more secure future.”

Ms Barry says they have already found that people value what the farm represents – whether that’s its green fields, its environment, the wildlife or the heritage.

She says she is hopeful that the group will be able to reach the £1m target – to match the council’s valuation.

“We are hopeful that we can find enough financial support to ensure a good outcome, there is so much at stake and so much to gain,” she said.

“It has been a community asset, an environmental asset, a heritage asset, a rural and equestrian asset, a health and wellbeing asset, for over a hundred years and we would like that to continue for future generations.”

In the past, the previous tenant had run a “thriving” equestrian centre from the farm – known as the Ickleford Equestrian Centre – that included facilities for the Riding for the Disabled.

And Ms Barry says a local couple have already expressed an interest in running an equestrian business from the site as part of a possible wider bid.

She says the 10 acres on offer with the farmhouse would not be enough to run the sort of riding school that was there previously, but they are looking at alternatives that could include DIY livery and riding lessons, as well as other community businesses.

The 10-acres that are set to be sold are part of a larger 120-acre site, and the council intend to lease the remaining 110-acres of farmland.

The site does include a Grade II-listed 17th century farmhouse, which is said to be in “relatively poor condition” and to require repairs that could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Before the council took the decision to sell the site, more than 500 residents signed a petition, calling on them to reconsider.

In February the council’s cabinet decided that although marketing could start immediately, no sale would go ahead for three months.

Potential investors can find out more by contacting Frances Barry at