Wide open space available? Consider camping as a means of diversifying15/04/21
With the current uncertainty over the future of foreign travel, and a significant proportion of Brits choosing to stay in the UK for their holidays for the foreseeable future, holiday accommodation at home looks set to experience unprecedented popularity over the next few years.
Unsurprisingly, self-catered cottages are experiencing bookings at an unprecedented rate, with one popular website reporting an increase of nearly 80% for this year. Our enforced ‘stay local’ rule, thanks to the pandemic, seems to have fostered in many people a new appreciation of the great outdoors. Last summer’s good weather, in combination with the foreign travel ban, certainly contributed to the rocketing sales of caravans, camper vans and tents. According to camping website pitchup, UK campsites have seen an incredible 500% rise in booking for this year.
If you are looking to diversify, have suitable space and are located close to tourist attractions or scenic areas offering scope for outdoor recreation you may wish to take advantage of this camping craze and consider running a campsite.
Campsites are hugely varied. Some cater for nature lovers who are looking for the most basic of amenities, such as cold running water and a chemical toilet disposal point. Increasingly, larger campsites, in particular, are finding that customers are expecting a higher standard of facilities, including internet access. They may be prepared to pay a premium for this, but clearly the initial outlay for the owner, along with ongoing maintenance, is considerable.
Planning permission for campsites
The current relaxation in planning rules means that you may be able to run a temporary campsite for up to 56 days without requiring planning permission. This has the intention of providing an economic boost to rural areas to help them recover from the pandemic. Longer term though, if you wish to run a permanent campsite and build a regular customer base, you will need to seek planning permission as running a campsite is a change of use for agricultural land.
Local authorities are inclined to be supportive of landowners seeking to diversify but you need to be aware of potential highways and access issues. You should also consider how many pitches you want to get permission for. If you are going to accommodate caravans or camper vans, you may want to consider installing some hard-standing pitches. These are likely to need planning permission too.
In many cases, once planning permission has been granted, you will then need to procure a licence from your local authority too. Don’t forget that if you are providing electric hook-ups, these will need maintaining and safety checking every year. Similarly, if you are intending to sell food or drink to your campers, you need to make sure you are abiding by all regulations regarding food hygiene and environmental health standards. Public liability insurance will be essential too.
Seek professional advice as early in the process as you can so you don’t miss out on various types of tax and rate relief that may be available to you.
If you are interested in diversifying, talk to the Forge Property team today.