Diversification and Dreams – Glamping Pod Site Approval
Tue 21 January 2020
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else, but when you understand how hard those people will work to make them come true, you know that together you’ll achieve them.
Kevin Jones and Alice Pond were looking for a way to diversify Kevin’s family run farm, and wished to pursue developing a glamping site for tourists to enjoy the exceptional views from their land above Kinnerton. They contacted Kington Survey department from which Geraint Jones and Lewis Price arranged to meet them.
Whilst Kevin is a fifth generation farmer, Alice doesn’t come from a farming background, but has always been fascinated by animals and has a love for working outside whatever the weather
Alice explained “Kevin's father suggested that we used McCartneys as the family have frequently sought advice and regularly sell stock through McCartneys' sales. Having local branches in Kington and Knighton, we knew that they would understand the economics and logistics of the local area which would be beneficial.
Living on the farm, it is our piece of paradise. To ensure it will survive an uncertain future and changing attitudes towards traditional farming, we decided that it needed to diversify in another direction. Glamping pods were the natural progression. The beauty of being nestled underneath the Radnor Forest overlooking the Radnor Valley at 1,300ft above sea level we knew it would be perfect.”
Initially Alice and Kevin were only looking for two glamping pods to start the farm diversification business, however Geraint and Lewis advised that they could get planning permission for more units initially, and then build in phases.
Having spent time with their clients to fully ascertain the scope of the project and agree the requirements for obtaining planning permission, architectural designs were undertaken by the team to produce necessary site plans and drawings of the pods. As always the clients were kept informed and consulted, at this stage about the designs and layout, and amendments were made until Kevin and Alice were completely satisfied.
The planning application was then submitted to Powys County Council with all the necessary documentation, including a planning statement and percolation test results.
Alice and Kevin wished for the pods to have their own en-suite bathroom, complete with fitted shower and hot running water. In order for this to be considered the percolation tests had to be carried out. A percolation test investigates how quickly the ground drains. Working together, the tests were carried out by Lewis with the assistance of Kevin digging suitable test holes. Thankfully the ground was made up of shale rock which provided excellent drainage for the water, ensuring the soakaways would work superbly.
The application was supported by Powys County Council, as the proposed development complied with their new policies in the recently adopted Local Development Plan, relating to farm diversification. Additionally another policy which sets out the criteria for Tourism Development.
Due to the rural nature of the site, which is accessed predominately from an unclassified single track road from Kinnerton, the council’s Highways Consultant required additional passing places to be constructed in the country lane. Lewis arranged for a site meeting with the Highways Officer. Through negotiations he could then establish the number of passing bays and the desired location of each one. Subsequently, detailed architectural drawings were produced for each passing bay, including the road construction detail for each new passing place.
Unfortunately the knock on effect of the requirement for the passing bays was that a habitat assessment survey was needed. This would assess the likelihood of Great Crested Newts living in the road verges impacted by the passing bays, as there were two suitable ponds for them within the locality. Great Crested Newts are a European protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them. The team at McCartneys Survey obtained quotes for undertaking the Great Crested Newt Assessment, before consulting with the clients as to which licensed ecologist they wished to appoint.
Once the assessment had been undertaken and report received, the planning officer re-consulted Powys County Council’s ecologist consultant to ensure that the report met the correct standards and provided a satisfactory solution. In this particular case there was a low likelihood of the Newts being in the verge at these locations, and therefore a reasonable avoidance method statement was provided to minimise any potential impact to the Newts, and advise on appropriate actions if one was sighted.
Once all consultants were satisfied, including the highways officer and ecologist, the planning officer was able to approve the planning permission for the erection of five glamping pods.
Whilst it was never in any doubt, Lewis was delighted to open the e mail that confirmed it had been granted.
Alice and Kevin were thrilled to receive the news. The passing places request and Great Crested Newt assessment had caused a significant delay to the project, but had been overcome and handled professionally by Geraint and Lewis who endeavoured to take as much stress out of the process as possible.
The planning permission was approved in early spring allowing Alice and Kevin to set up and open their business in time for the tourist season in the summer.
Lewis tells us “The glamping pods will provide tourists with accommodation in a very secluded location which overlooks the Radnor Valley. The locations have been designed to be very private and isolated which provides guests with the peace and quiet of the countryside and able to enjoy the spectacular 180 degree views.”
Hush hush Glamping is now up and running, starting with the first delightful wooden pod for two - Hare's Form. A beautifully crafted Pod, complete with en-suite bathroom, nestled within the 90 acre family farm overlooking the wonderfully picturesque Radnor Valley and Black Mountains.
Alice says “We were absolutely delighted with the outcome! The process was slow and painful at times, which was mainly due to Council timescales. Lewis was brilliant and kept in touch with us regularly, updating us on the progress of the application and dealt with all the liaison, taking time to meet with Council personnel to iron out issues, which was a huge pressure lifted from our shoulders.
We opened in July of 2019 and have had guests booking and staying with us. Many have commented on the spectacular view and how they enjoy the Alpacas and Sheep, grazing and sauntering past the French windows! We're ecstatic to say we have back to back bookings over the Christmas period and are really looking forward to our first full year in 2020.”
McCartneys would like to wish Kevin and Alice every success in their new business enterprise. If you have any sites or schemes which you are interested in developing, please give our Planning and Survey team a call to discuss further. Contact Geraint & Lewis at our Kington office on 01544 230316.