Glamping on the farm – Is it your next diversification strategy?


More and more farmers are setting up so-called ‘glamping’ sites, but overcoming planning issues is essential to success. Rural chartered surveyor Julie Liddle discusses what must be done.

Glamping – or glamorous camping – is increasingly popular among people who want to experience the great outdoors while avoiding the rigours of traditional camping.

Instead of sleeping in tents and cooking outside, glampers want comfortable beds, quality cooking facilities and hot water on tap. They may well also require features such as a log-burning stove and decking as part of their countryside experience.

Why it’s vital to address planning requirements

This opens up potentially lucrative opportunities for farm diversification, although considerable forethought is necessary – and planning consent is a necessity.

Local and neighbourhood development plans will affect your proposals, so it is important to engage with the local planning authority at an early stage and be open when dealing with members of your community.

Glamping tends to be seen as a low-impact activity that can deliver broader benefits for other local businesses. So your proposals may well receive a more positive reaction than you might imagine from your local planning officer, statutory authorities (such as Highways, Environment Agency, etc) as well as neighbours.

In addition, where national policy frameworks have been recently updated they are likely to encourage eco-friendly and rural tourism.

Distinguishing between permanent and temporary structures

In the main glamping sites are moveable, so you will only need planning permission for temporary structures, for example where canvas is the primary material. However, buildings such as log cabins are considered permanent and must therefore satisfy the requirements for full planning consent.

Basic requirements for a glamping site are a small car park with easy access to guests’ accommodation, hot water, and decent cooking and washing facilities. Latest advances in composite toilet development means flushing lavatories are not necessarily required, and nor is a 240v electricity supply. An efficient solar panel and 12v lighting are generally acceptable and 12v lights can be used to illuminate outdoor pathways without being visually intrusive.

The importance of early-stage planning

Whether or not the farm is operational, you should must take insurance as well as health and safety issues into account. So, consider ensuring guests do not need to enter working areas of the farm and the site is situated in a safe self-contained location.

Finally, it is important to carry out financial due diligence to ensure your venture is profitable. Set-up costs of between £25,000 to £30,000 are considered adequate to generate annual turnover of £10,000 to £15,000 and net profits ranging from £5,000 to £10,000 but these are very broad brush figures which will obviously be affected by numbers/design, etc.

With these significant sums in mind, taking professional advice is highly recommended. Considerable sums of money could be at risk if the opening of a glamping site is delayed due to a planning glitch, or worse, refusal of planning consent.

For advice on any rural land and property issues, call Julie Liddle on 01768 254 354.