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Approval granted for £250k 20-pod glamping site outside Belfast

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Travel writer Simon Calder said the approvals are a good move for the tourism sector here (stock photo)

Travel writer Simon Calder said the approvals are a good move for the tourism sector here (stock photo)

Travel writer Simon Calder said the approvals are a good move for the tourism sector here (stock photo)

A £250,000 glamping site at Streamvale Open Farm on the outskirts of Belfast has been approved.

The site for 'glamorous camping' is set to launch at the open farm - a popular destination for schools and families - in March next year.

Owners AJ Morrow & Sons said the addition of the glamping pods, with hot tubs, will link in with a new programme of evening events, such as corporate functions.

Director Patrick Morrow said: "We looked at bringing more revenue into the business and over the past three years we've been running a number of events in the evening and the glamping site will tie in with that and offer guests somewhere to stay."

Mr Morrow said work has begun on a new laneway to the site while significant electrical works will begin soon after, with the first phase of six luxury pods to launch in spring next year.

"It will be a big initial cost as every pod will have its own hot tub and the location, a few hundred metres away from the farm, will mean it needs its own electricity substation," he said.

He added he hopes to attract a young professional clientele when it opens.

"Last year we had 150,000 visitors to the farm. We get a lot from the south who I know would be keen to stay up and Halloween is a big night for us. We are also hearing more American accents," he said. "We are on the edge of the city, 10 minutes from the restaurants and bars in Ballyhackamore, and we're offering a different experience. We have a view of Scrabo Tower and the Holywood Hills and behind the site is the field with alpacas, sheep and goat as well as our deer field and not many places in Northern Ireland can give you that."

The Streamvale project is one of more than 10 similar schemes to be approved around Northern Ireland over the past year.

It is the largest of the projects and will include 20 pods when all phases are completed. Lisburn & Castlereagh Council gave the project planning permission last month.

Other glamping sites to be approved include locations in Kilcoo, Ballycastle, Killeavy, Portaferry and Londonderry.

A facility in Glenarm, Co Antrim was also given the green light to install the pods on the site of a disused quarry.

Travel writer Simon Calder said the approvals are a good move for the tourism sector here.

"This looks a very positive development, adding an extra dimension to Northern Ireland's growing tourism offering," he added.

"Visitors will be able to enjoy the great outdoors of Ulster without the discomfort that I associate with 'real' camping."

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