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Surge in pop-up camping sites as demand for staycations surges

Temporary campsites have sprung up on farms, parkland around stately homes, rugby clubs, county showgrounds and village pubs.

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Covid travel restrictions have led to a surge in demand for staycations, with pop-up campsites springing up all around the country (Marston Park/PA)

Covid travel restrictions have led to a surge in demand for staycations, with pop-up campsites springing up all around the country (Marston Park/PA)

Covid travel restrictions have led to a surge in demand for staycations, with pop-up campsites springing up all around the country (Marston Park/PA)

Rugby clubs, farms and stately homes are among the venues transforming themselves into pop-up holiday venues this summer as Covid travel restrictions lead to a surge in demand for staycations.

Landowners are taking advantage of a relaxation in the law that allows sites to open for 56 days without planning permission this year, up from 28 days in a normal year.

Camping booking platform Pitchup said temporary campsites have sprung up on all kinds of land, from farms to parkland around stately homes to rugby clubs, county showgrounds and village pub beer gardens.

They are proving a lifeline for businesses that may have otherwise struggled to survive the pandemic and for customers who might otherwise have been unable to take a holiday post-lockdown.

Pitchup said the nature of the sites means they are generally “quite back-to-basics with limited amenities”, and land must be restored to its original condition after use, meaning the permanent impact on the land is negligible.

The scale of demand this year is going to be enormousDan Yates, Pitchup

Pitchup managing director Dan Yates said the extension of permitted development rights had led to around 225 pop-up sites launching in July and August last year, while around 50 new locations have joined so far this year.

He expects around 500 new pop-up sites to be using Pitchup by July, and 119 are currently live and bookable.

Many of the pop-ups are away from tourist hotspots and some distance away from the coast, with a large number located in secluded farm areas.

Mr Yates said: “The scale of demand this year is going to be enormous but I would say to holidaymakers that summer is not fully booked. Have a look online. There’s something for everyone.

“A lot of these sites are away from the traditional ‘honeypot’ coastal areas, they’re secluded. These farms let you see where the food on your plate comes from. It’s great for kids.”

Farm holidays are hugely popular with young families and a great way for landowners to diversify their revenuesMartin Smith, Campsites.co.uk

Martin Smith, founder of Campsites.co.uk, said he has also seen a lot of new pop-up/56-day sites wanting to list this year, ranging from back-to-basics campsites to bell tent glamping venues.

He said: “Farm holidays are hugely popular with young families and a great way for landowners to diversify their revenues.

“High demand for UK holidays is making summer availability very tight in lots of areas, so new sites in good locations will certainly do well.

“I’d urge families to go and explore somewhere new if you find that seven nights in Cornwall is booked up. Be a bit flexible about where you’re looking and be prepared to accept a slightly shorter stay.”

Michael Fenna, co-owner of Marston Park in Frome, Somerset, said the Grade II listed park and garden opened tent accommodation last year for two months as an experiment and is running 30 fully furnished tents this year during the 56-day window.

“The long-term plan is to restore the estate to its former glory, with the proceeds from the pop-up,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic learning experience and it’s been very well received in the local area.”

Retailer Halfords said it has seen a surge in demand for staycation and touring products over the past week as customers prepare for staycations.

Sales of roof boxes were up 59% in the last four weeks, bike racks have seen a 72% increase, and products such as roof bars, footpacks and fitting kits have increased by 86%.

Spokeswoman Ania Kanwal said: “As the Government begins to ease lockdown restrictions, we’ve seen demand surge for rooftop boxes as customers ensure they can take everything they need with them for their touring and camping staycations.

“We have also seen extraordinary sales of bike racks, suggesting that UK consumers plan to continue their newfound fondness of cycling whilst on holiday.”

PA


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