The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) supports sustainable development and a prosperous rural economy including tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside.
Development within the AONB, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is restricted to minor development which should be sensitively located and designed to avoid or minimise adverse impact.
Acorus were approached by a farming family who own 24 acres (9.7 hectares) of land. The land is mainly laid to grass with some woodland and is located within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The farm was a former orchard, producing juice on site and selling from a farm shop. 100 trees remain on the site and small quantities of juice continue to be produced and sold locally.
An equestrian business now operates from the former farm shop.
The family wanted to consider diversifying the land to increase viability, whilst at the same time causing no harm to the AONB. Given the small size of the farm, it would be difficult for any agricultural enterprise to be viable without considerable infrastructure and investment, for example for intensive livestock which would have a negative impact on the landscape and area.
After much deliberation and research into local tourism, a year round Glamping Site seemed the most appropriate and viable option and would support the local economy.
The site is ideally located close to local areas of interest including national parks. Nearby footpaths and bridleways provide guests with the opportunity to explore the AONB on foot or by bicycle. In addition, there are several top quality restaurants, snack bars and cafes located within cycling distance. Guests will be encouraged to make the most of these facilities.
Initially a parcel of land on the border of the holding was chosen which is well screened and sited in a valley, therefore having minimal impact on the AONB and not visible from the road.
Up to nine glamping pitches were proposed, all located sensitively to blend into the surrounding environment with associated facilities such as communal composting toilets and solar powered showers along with cooking and dining area and washing facilities. A dedicated parking area will be created a short walk away from the site.
An application was submitted with supporting planning statement, site location plan, transport statement and images of the proposed units which included a traditional gypsy wagon, shepherds huts and canvas bell tents, all structures being mobile.
During the application process discussions took place with the Local Planning Authority regarding location of the site and the number of units proposed.
A revised location was agreed, and the number of units reduced to five to maintain the isolation and tranquillity of the site. The revised location of the units was again sensitively located making best use of the existing landscape.
The application was approved subject to conditions. The decision notice stated the reason for the positive decision was that ‘the proposed development would not harm the character and appearance of the area or harm the receiving landscape, the safety of the highways network, the amenity of neighbours and important landscape features and protected species. The development would support a local rural enterprise and would make a contribution to encouraging tourism into the district’.
The clients are delighted with the decision and now working towards the discharge of conditions with the further assistance from Acorus. They are looking forward to having the site ready for the summer to welcome guests wanting to enjoy the magnificent English countryside.