Temporary campsites set up on farms have given a boost to Britain’s rural economy, but many companies fear that authorized development rights will soon be canceled.
Temporary on-farm campsites across the UK have generated more than £ 25million in the past twelve months, according to figures from Pitchup.com.
And it was not only the so-called “honeypot” areas that shared the spoils, as the poorest rural areas also benefited from “stay” tourists.
Regions such as Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Herefordshire, which tend to lose out to more popular destinations like the West Country and the Lake District, all shared with the windfall.
According to the outdoor accommodation provider, £ 9.8million was generated from site fees alone, with an additional £ 2.9million spent with campsite owners on firewood and farm products.
But the lion’s share of the money – £ 12.9million – was spent on local rural businesses including pubs, shops and restaurants, giving them a lifeline amid the pandemic .
The boom in pop-up campsites began in the summer of 2020 after the government temporarily extended the right to open them from 28 days to 56 days without applying for a building permit.
The change, which involved an aspect of planning legislation called Authorized Development Rights (PDRs), was enacted to help power in a post-Covid rural recovery.
However, it is expected to return to 28 days at the end of December.
Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, said the 56-day extension had a positive impact on the rural economy “just when it was needed”.
But while the world still suffers from the ongoing pandemic, he said it was “a shame” the government did not intend to extend the initiative this year.
The Westminster government’s decision to end the extended PDR this year is at odds with the Welsh government which is currently consulting on a permanent 56-day extension.
According to the administration, “the temporary development rights authorized have been particularly beneficial in allowing the provision of additional capacity for campsites and by expanding the range of tourist services available to meet the increase in the number of stays”.
Mr Yates added that one of the most positive results of expanding the RDP had been to bring tourism to areas of the UK that needed a boost most.
“Thanks to the 56-day decision, many temporary campsites have been set up in these areas and campers have poured in, generating a whole new source of income for local businesses in some of the UK’s least visited rural areas.
“So besides being a boost for the rural economy as a whole, it also helped ensure that some of the poorest rural communities shared the gains.
“While overseas travel is of course recovering, we believe the pandemic has caused a permanent shift towards outdoor accommodation in the UK.”
Mr Yates added that demand for next year showed no signs of slowing down. “Reservations for 2022 are already up 145% compared to 2019 and one campsite has already registered 305 reservations for next year.
“If the 56-day extension were to remain in place continuously, the impact on the rural economy would be very significant,” he said.