Glamping is a relatively cheap way to start a holiday letting business and recently we have been giving planning advice to clients looking to diversify their farms and take advantage of this demand.
What is glamping?
Glamping is a luxury way of camping with all the mod-cons. Instead of taking your own camping tent to the site you sleep in wooden huts with full-size beds, running water and heating.
The market for glamping holidays is a growth area, with an upward trend over the last couple of years and is now being fuelled by demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It seems a novel idea, but glamping business income can be substantial in the right location.
Glamping business income
The move by farmers to provide furnished holiday letting accommodation is led by strong demand for high quality tourist accommodation. 2020 was a bumper year for self-catering accommodation – better placed for smaller groups and easily cleaned.
This demand means that glamping business income is potentially high, which is attractive to farmers and new investors looking to get into this market, leading to a growth in the market.
Yurts are popular, and the gross turnover of these can be £12-15,000 per annum, depending on their location and quality.
Not surprisingly, glamping is a seasonal business, with March to October being the main and most important part of the year – half term to half
HOW TO SET UP A GLAMPING BUSINESS
If you’re a farmer or landowner, you’ll need to establish a suitable area of your land for a glamping site. If you don’t already own the land, you’ll need to begin the search to find a suitable site. A good start could be to look at campsites for sale and consider whether they might have potential for expansion into glamping. Or perhaps you might wish to look at a glamping business for sale.
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Once you have the land and you’re thinking about starting a glamping business, the next and most important factor to take into consideration is the access to the proposed glamping site, to ensure that it is easy for your guests to visit.
There are also some key environmental considerations; you should consider the possibility of flooding and, it is important to establish whether the site is in a conservation area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – this may affect your ability to gain the necessary consents.
Similarly, the visibility of the glamping units within the surrounding landscape is important; ideally, they need to be screened.
The local authority will be concerned about the potential increase in traffic movements and whether services are available on site. The major cost of this type of development is the infrastructure which commonly include drainage, electricity and roads.
You will need to compare the cost of constructing a glamping site against converting redundant farm buildings into holiday letting cottages. The advantage of a glamping site is the minimal impact on the farmstead – if you can locate the site on the edges of the farm which are not used, you should be able to avoid affecting the day to day running of the farm business.
There are various forms of accommodation available (including yurts, safari tents and tipis) which can be taken down in the winter. These may be considered to temporary structures by local authorities and therefore received more favourably by planning officers, because they have less impact on the local environment. Similarly, wooden pods and shepherds huts, if located sensitively, may blend into their surroundings and not blight the landscape.
When advising clients, we will assess the proposed project by preparing a business plan to demonstrate its viability as part of a farm’s actual or proposed diversification. In doing this, we can also demonstrate the boost that the project will have on local tourism and the wider local economy. This is an important part of the planning process.
A business plan will help identify the running costs and the gross margin connected with the glamping business. It will also provide a sensitivity analysis in relation to occupational rates throughout the year, demonstrating key thresholds required to produce profit. If the local authority puts a restriction on the number of months the holiday letting business can operate, then this can be a useful tool.
We often find that farmers looking to diversify into this type of business might already be running one or two holiday cottages and are looking to expand. Pods are self-contained, come partly furnished and are ready to plug into a facility, allowing them to be run as mini holiday cottages straightaway. It is worth looking to see if there are any grants that will help with the development.
Additional facilities required on site are minimal but if you are looking to target families with younger children then a play area is a worthwhile investment.
Farmers need to consider where to locate the glamping business on their farm carefully because it is not just a decision on which type of glamping unit to choose, but one needs to carefully consider the cost implications before you pitch your pod. This includes health and safety, fire regulation and accessibility.
You may need to seek planning permission, depending on the local authority. Some actively encourage tourism and the associated income into the area, whereas others – including National Parks – may favour preserving and protecting the landscape. Planning applications and appeals can easily eat up one’s budget but, just like any project, you need to do your homework in the first instance.
Glamping planning permission
Many clients need advice on how to navigate the planning process. The key issues often faced with glamping planning permission are the impact on the local environment, landscape, and the agricultural land itself. Woodland can help to mitigate this issue by retaining the natural environment.
Yurts, bell tents, tipis and pods can be installed with minimal disturbance to the land and the surrounding woodland, which will be allowed to flourish naturally, helping to encourage insects, birds and mammals.
If you are looking to develop in open pasture, tree planting can help to offset the impact of the development and enhance the site, while the addition of a pond may play a key role for wildlife. Schemes of this type provide a picturesque rural retreat that blends in with the local surroundings.
How to find a glamping business for sale
Find out more about our rural leisure services, for more information, contact Stephen Richards on 07968 216596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.