New planning exemptions make it easier than ever to diversify your farm
15th December 2020
Landowners in England were given the green light to accept tents without planning permission for 56 days per calendar year this summer, and this has now been extended to 31st December 2021.
These exemptions make it easier than ever to open ‘pop-up’ campsites, allowing hundreds of farmers to diversify their business and make the most of the unprecedented boom in domestic travel.
When Boris Johnson indicated on 10th May that holiday accommodation and tourist attractions might be in a position to reopen from July, the appetite for domestic holidays exploded, with travel businesses charting record bookings. At Pitchup.com, which lists 2,100 outdoor accommodation sites around the UK, bookings increased by 780 per cent in the month following the announcement and hit a record high of 6,500 individual bookings on 3rd August.
Since the planning rules were relaxed this summer, 379 UK sites have joined Pitchup, taking up to £50,000 in bookings each under the new permitted development rules. These pop-up sites were primarily a back-to-basics offering, requiring little more than the land itself for the simplest of set-ups.
Landowners have complete control over who books and when, since users must agree to prominent rules such as no stag/hen parties or student groups on Pitchup.com. Toilets and showers were readily available from local hire depots having been destined for cancelled events, which the vast majority of landowners made use of. These temporary sites proved a popular choice for safety-conscious holidaymakers, with over 100,000 guests staying on a pop-up in July and August this year.
In fact, so successful were these new 56-day pop-up sites that many of the landowners have applied for planning permission for a full season in 2021. This can be a straightforward and relatively inexpensive process: for example, it costs from £462 to change the use of land in England, and most applications are decided within 8 weeks. Sites with planning permission then benefit from favourable new government advice on a longer season.
With reports that holidays across the UK are already selling out for peak periods next year , the appetite for domestic tourism remains high for 2021. According to Alistair Handyside, chair of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers, there has been a significant surge in bookings for 2021, with current booking rates running around six months ahead of the normal booking pattern. Similarly, camping and glamping bookings on Pitchup.com are 163 per cent up against this time last year.
As we head towards a new season, there is a clear opportunity for farmers to consider the addition of camping or glamping to the use of their land, which could make a vital contribution to their business in 2021 and beyond.
View the Pitchup website HERE
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