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Planning permission for holiday lets: the basics

Tue 26 March 2019

Alister Smith of Stags Professional Services sheds light on the subject of planning permission for holiday lets. 

UK-based tourism is proving to be more popular than ever these days and, as a consequence, many holiday accommodation enterprises are considering either expansion or selling while business is strong. 

In the case of selling a holiday complex, you may want to add value to your property by obtaining planning permission for expansion. Navigating the planning system can seem to be a minefield but there is much that can be done to avoid possible pitfalls.

As a general principle, it is easier to expand an existing site or to make better use of a property that needs reclaiming, such as a disused quarry, than to convert a bare farmland site into a holiday business.  Indeed, it is very unlikely that permission will be given for a large new site on undeveloped farmland, especially if this in a designated landscape (such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park).  It may be possible to start a smaller business on a farmland site, as a farm diversification scheme. In time,  this can then be incrementally expanded.

In designated landscape areas, there are still ways to obtain planning permission if you are re-purposing an existing site.  For example, if you were aiming to, say, replace unsightly static caravans with a lower density, high-quality lodge scheme, then your prospects of success will be greatly increased.  

However, while it would be nice to assume a council will support such a scheme, this is by no means a given.  You can improve your chances by submitting justification which shows the strengths of your proposal.  In this regard, enlisting the support of local tourism organisations, including the council’s own economic development team, can pay dividends. 

Planning issues vary from site to site but I find the same themes often recur. In most cases the key areas for concern are: highways, landscape and ecology.  Getting the right input really can be make or break. 

Our recommendation though in any case is take advice early on as this can help save potentially significant sums of time and money down the line. 

For specific advice, do not hesitate to contact Stags Planning department.  

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