Pitchup.com, the UK’s largest outdoor accommodation site, is calling for the government to extend the current 56 day limit to allow campsites to operate over the whole summer season to support the struggling UK leisure industry.
Pitchup has seen a significant increase - 86 per cent more pop-ups (406) are already live than last year, with over 250 in the pipeline - in farms and rural businesses taking advantage of a change in regulation which allows the landowner to set up a site without planning permission.
The existing extension has enabled more farmers and rural, land-based businesses to benefit from the boom in staycations by opening a temporary campsite.
While the extension of permitted development from 28 days to 56 has made many new sites viable, rural businesses will still struggle to meet the huge demand for holiday accommodation from this year’s staycation boom and recover from the financial impact of Covid.
“Last year’s extension from 28 to 56 days was very welcome, but the limit is still restrictive given that portable facilities use up the allowance even when no campers are on site. Weather can also eat into the time: last year, due to flooding, our best-selling pop-up had to close for the year two weeks early and refund almost £14,000 in bookings. The allowance is depleted further by staff training, particularly in new Covid-19 measures, by time adding/removing portable facilities, and by empty mid-week periods. The cumulative effect can be to reduce the 56-day allowance to a handful of weekends in peak season,” says Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com who is spearheading the campaign.
“Extending the period to October half term would enable rural businesses to make best use of the weather, by providing flexibility to operate all season. Our campaign has the full support of a range of rural organisations including the NFU, the Countryside Alliance, Historic Houses, the Campaign for Pubs and the Federation of Small Businesses, to name check a few. This change would not only help farmers and other landowners away from the busy ‘honeypot’ resorts recover from the pandemic, but also benefit a host of rural businesses - from pubs and village stores to tradespeople and garages - sustaining them throughout the winter for the benefit of the entire community, not to mention allowing thousands of Brits to get away who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.”