Pembrokeshire farm profits see surge in pop-up site

A WEST Wales couple who tried pop-up camping on their farm made four times as much money from the setup as they did from their Black Welsh herd.

Now they are asking that the temporary Covid relaxation in planning regulations be made permanent to help secure the future of their farm.

Carwyn and Leanne Miles run an organic beef farm on the Pembrokeshire coast near St Davids, as well as guesthouses and a DIY yard and are part of a community support farming scheme.

Last year, the business couple decided to take advantage of an extension of permitted development rights (PDRs) introduced to help rural businesses recover from the Covid pandemic.

The rules allowed farmers and other landowners to set up temporary campsites for up to 56 days a year without applying for planning permission – an increase from the original 28-day limit.

The scheme was due to end on January 3, but it has been so successful that the Welsh government is now consulting to make it permanent, which the Miles desperately want.

Mr Miles said: ‘We decided to try pop-up camping due to the extension to 56 days instead of 28.

“We invested between £1,200 and £1,500 to install it by building three portable showers and three kitchenettes. We didn’t have time to advertise the campsite, so we had to rely entirely on Pitchup.

“We were only half full in July, but after three or four outstanding reviews, bookings multiplied and quickly. We had a very busy month of August and our 40 pitches were fully occupied almost every day.

Mr Miles added that between July 9 and September 3, when the campsite closed, it earned the family a total of £43,000.

By contrast, in a good year, the family’s herd of 26 black x belted Welsh suckler cows generates around £10,000.

Mr Miles said the income from camping has made a ‘huge difference’ and will allow them to run the farm for longer to support themselves and their two children Riko and Tilley-May.

“If we were to invest in cattle, we would have to restructure the whole business and become a herd of around 75 to 100 head of cattle,” he said.

“We would have to build more sheds to house all the cattle, and that would cost around £220,000-270,000 and still wouldn’t make as much money as camping for those 56 days.”

Dan Yates, founder of pitchup.com – Europe’s largest outdoor accommodation provider – said stories similar to Miles abounded across the UK.

He added that while Scotland took a relaxed attitude towards the PDR until September 2022 and the Welsh Government consulted to make the change permanent, the Government in Westminster reverted to the 28-day rule on December 31, 2021. .

Mr Yates said: “At Pitchup, we hear stories of how the extended PDR has kept farms afloat and given farming families hope for the future almost every day.

“The benefit of this initiative is that it allows farmers like Carwyn and Leanne to take advantage of the boom in staycations during the summer months, while still providing the high quality, wellness foods and locally produced products that the country needs all year round.

“From that perspective, it’s a win-win.”

According to figures from pitchup.com, of the £25million temporary campsites pumped into the rural economy last year, most of that – £12.9million – was spent outside the campsite and with local businesses, thus strengthening the wider rural community.

“The benefits of temporary campsites go far beyond the farm,” Mr Yates added.

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