Last year the UK countryside had an unprecedented number of visitors as holidaymakers enjoyed a staycation instead of going abroad.
While many booked into established camping and caravan parks, demand outstripped supply, and the surge in the number of people eager to pitch up led to an increase in wild camping, prompting concerns from environmentalists.
With continued uncertainty around foreign holidays, authorities are anticipating similar visitor numbers this year and there has been a rapid rise in the number of pop-up campsites planning to open. It’s hoped these temporary sites will prevent the need to ‘fly-camp’, meaning littering and campfire damage in beauty spots will reduce and the environmental impact can be managed more sustainably.
Pop-up campsites can now open for up to 56 days a year. Usually, these sites can only operate for 28 days but the Government relaxed planning regulations meaning they can operate for twice as long.
For many landowners and farmers this may present a new income stream by temporarily turning land into revenue. If you are a people person and would enjoy welcoming campers to your farm, there are some things to consider.
Carefully consider the most appropriate site. It needs to be an accessible, flat field away from neighbouring properties. It must not be near a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or any historic site.
2. Environmental impact
While there is no requirement for an environmental assessment to be carried out for pop-up campsites, landowners must act responsibly. To protect the environment, limit the number of tents, ask campers to avoid lighting campfires and provide bins to prevent littering.
You will need to ensure the use of the land as a pop-up campsite does not disturb any natural features or wildlife habitats.
3. Tenancy and land agreements
If you do not own the land on which the campsite is to be situated, you will need to check if this is permitted by your tenancy agreement. If this only permits agricultural use, then you could be in breach, and run the risk of the landlord bringing the tenancy to an end. If you are in doubt, seek advice from your solicitor or land agent.
Portable toilets, a handwashing area and fresh water will be needed for campers. Mats, particularly in gateways, may also be needed on wet ground and you will need to arrange for rubbish to be taken away.
5. Risk assessments & insurance
A full risk assessment must be carried out before any temporary site can open to ensure the safety of visitors. You’ll also need to be fully covered for public liability insurance before welcoming guests. This can usually be provided by your land insurer.
6. Opening times
Under permitted development rights, temporary campsites can open for 56 days in the year until 31 December 2021. This doesn’t have to be a continuous period. You might choose to open at peak times such as weekends and school holidays, giving you the breaks in between to focus on other business needs. Depending on your local authority area, a site licence may be required if it operates for more than 42 consecutive days.
Offering your pitches at the right price could be the difference between a lucrative temporary income stream or time wasted on getting everything in place to find you have no take up. Do some research to find other sites in your local area to ensure your prices are competitive.
VAT needs careful consideration and will usually be payable on any campsite fees charged. This needs to be accounted for when pricing your pitches.
Taking land out of agricultural use for two months should not result in losing Agricultural Property Relief for Inheritance Tax purposes, provided it goes back to being grazed by livestock afterwards.
Make sure people know about you. Think about the type of campers you want to target and find out how to reach them. Consider social media or specialist camping websites and blogs.
10. Making it permanent
If you’ve set up a pop-up campsite and decide to make it a permanent businesses arm, planning permission and a licence will be required. You’ll need to factor the additional costs for permanent facilities and site maintenance into to your budget and business plan.
It is also important to consider whether a permanent site would be run as part of your existing farm business, as a limited company or partnership.
If you’re considering a pop-up campsite to bring in new revenue to your business, or for more information, contact David Threlkeld on 01228 690028 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.