THE WELSH GOVERNMENT is being challenged to follow England’s example and provide a lifeline to farmers across the country by relaxing planning rules around agritourism.
Pitchup.com claims Welsh farmers are being denied thousands of pounds in extra income by refusing to act on a consultation into extending Permitted Development Rights carried out in early 2022.
Last week, in a landmark decision laid before Parliament* on 5th July, the Westminster government extended Permitted Development Rights (PDR) from 28 days per year to 60 days across England.
Pitchup.com has long campaigned on behalf of farmers for the change to planning rules which would allow them to run pop-up campsites and celebrated the Welsh Government’s decision to launch a consultation on the issue in 2021.
However, the outcome of the consultation has never been published and the Welsh Government has failed to take any further action.
Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, is now challenging Welsh leaders to act and follow the example of England’s politicians.
He says: “When the Welsh Assembly announced it was to consult on extending Permitted Development Rights permanently, we were delighted and optimistic for a positive outcome.
“It is a matter of immense frustration, therefore, that the Welsh government is still refusing to announce the outcome of this forgotten consultation a year and a half after it ended.
“Given the demand for camping holidays in Wales (up 30% on Pitchup.com compared to last year), this is unacceptable. Hundreds of farms and rural businesses that offer camping have been left in the dark about how long they can open this year, which has severely impacted their planning and the revenue they can expect to earn.”
The decision in England means farmers and landowners can now run pop-up sites for tents, campervans and motorhomes for up to 60 days per year without needing to apply for extra planning permission, providing they operate no more than 50 pitches, they provide toilet and waste disposal facilities, and they notify their local authority before the season starts**.
To accept tents for more than 42 consecutive days, a camping licence would still be required. A caravan site licence is likely to be required to accept motorhomes or campervans***.
To qualify, sites must also not be in the curtilage of a listed building, on an SSSI or scheduled monument, in a safety hazard area or in an area where military explosives are stored.
PDR was first extended between the COVID lockdowns to help rural communities recover from the pandemic. Since that time, Pitchup.com has been lobbying to have PDR extended permanently and says such a move for Wales has already been proven to generate millions of pounds for rural communities.
He adds: “In Wales, perhaps more than anywhere else in the UK, permanently extending Permitted Development Rights makes absolute sense, since 34% of holidays in Wales involve camping or caravanning, compared to just 20% in England and 21% in Scotland****. Few other policy changes would have such an immediate and positive impact on the Welsh rural economy. It would make farms, village shops, pubs, restaurants, and other rural businesses more sustainable and communities more prosperous. The last extension saw temporary sites listed on Pitchup generate £25m for the UK rural economy, for example.
“The Westminster government confirmed their decision to extend Permitted Development Rights to 60 days within two and a half months of the end of the consultation process.
“Almost 18 months after the end of the consultation in Wales, and the Welsh government has yet to make any announcement on the issue whatsoever.
“Time is running out. With the holiday season in full swing, ministers must act now if they want it to have any positive impact on rural communities this year. We are therefore imploring the Welsh Government to extend Permitted Development Rights for good, and to announce that decision as soon as is possible.”