Glamping has been in our vocabulary since about 2005; in reality, the concept goes back to the Ottomans, perhaps as far back to the Crusades.
In the 21st-century glamping covers a range of tents or structures from yurts, to shepherds huts, equipped with log burners and individual washing facilities. Rental rates vary from about £20 to £130 per night according to the level of facilities on offer.
Glamping holidays are sometimes sold as time where ‘Pimms O’ Clock and Wine O’ Clock’ are all the happy camper has to worry about, but what are the planning issues the operator needs to consider?
“Why do I need planning permission for tents or moveable huts? Surely permitted development allows me 28 days camping for an unlimited number of tents in any case?” The answer is that if a tent is left in situ for several months it is usually regarded as a structure, and the glamping site will be a change of use of land.
In my experience, most glamping sites need a building(s) to provide washing facilities, possibly with a communal kitchen, rubbish collection, as well as access, not only for day-to-day living but for maintenance and site management; these ancillary facilities also require planning permission.
After the business plan, the first decision for the aspiring operator must be the location and whether it offers the visitor an uplifting and varied experience. Unfortunately, these types of location are often accessed by a series of small rural lanes with no passing bays, so this needs to be reviewed objectively. Impact on adjoining landowners and house owners also need to be considered.
If your site is on chalk downland, or close to ponds and mature trees, the infrastructure development might impact on protected species, so a biodiversity scoping report is likely to be needed. You also need to check whether there is ancient woodland nearby because this is protected too.
Although the visitor accepts glamping is a form of camping, water and electricity are likely to be essential. Compost loos might be fine to start, but if the site proves popular then a treatment plant is a more workable solution. This is more expense and will require planning permission. Further pressure on resources will follow if the site offers add ons such as wood fired hot tubs; I gather these are very popular.
The planning application itself will need to be well presented to deal with the salient points of the development and provide supplementary reports from ecologists or highway engineers where required. Planning policy needs to be addressed. Scale drawings of the tents and buildings and a good site and location plan will be essential.
It is likely a site licence will be required following planning permission; these are granted by the local authority to the site operator to cover boundaries, firefighting, water supply and sanitation.
The question remains who is to manage the day to day running? A campsite is not for the faint hearted, and requires considerable patience and commitment; TripAdvisor and other comparison sites leave no hiding place, but for those who enjoy meeting people with the right location for ‘Pimms O’ Clock’ it must be a form of diversification well worth considering.
We have offices in Cirencester, Gloucestershire and Cranbrook, Kent and would be delighted to assist with any planning queries you may have.
Telephone: 01285 719568 (Cirencester) / 01580 201888 (Cranbrook)