City slickers who buy up swathes of countryside are in decline as the economic slowdown ends their dreams of a weekend retreat, a report out today will say. Financial Times, The Times

Demand from so-called 'lifestyle buyers' for farmland is falling, even though the surge in commodities prices has seen values for workable farmland rocket to record levels, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has found.

It says farmland prices rose by almost 28% in the second half of last year, compared with 22.6% in the first half of 2007.

The average price of arable land rose to £10,949 per hectare, from £9,929 in the first half of 2007, breaking the £10,000 per hectare barrier for the first time in the survey’s 13-year history.

The record price level was partly fuelled by City workers using bonuses to buy land in the countryside.