PLANS to change part of a former dairy farm into a seasonal campsite for tents and camper vans, complete with mobile toilet/showers, pot wash shed and cess tank have been approved by the council.

Tenants of Hacking Hall Farm on Elker Lane in Billington, R and K Douglas, applied to Ribble Valley Borough Council to turn part of the 104 acre all grass unit into a seasonal campsite to generate non-farming income through diversifying the business

The tenant, Mr Douglas, is assisted on the farm by his son Sander Douglas, and in 2021 Mr Douglas Jnr operated a campsite under the 56 day permitted development right, with the venture proving to be a success, providing a vital source of income at a time when reductions in Basic Payment Scheme payments are reducing annually.

On the basis of that venture into farm tourism, a decision was made to establish a more regularised site in a small parcel of land east of Hacking Barn, which is approximately 230 metres from Hacking Hall and the site where the main farming operations are located.

Since the dispersal of the dairy herd the buildings are chiefly used for lambing the sheep flock in February/March.

A small number of beef cattle (approximately 10 animals) are also kept with a number of breeding horses.

At a planning committee meeting at the end of May, councillors agreed to support the proposals and approved the plans with conditions.

Like many agricultural businesses, non-farming income through diversification is required.

The original application sought permission for a seasonal camping site with grass pitches within a 1.7 acres parcel of grassland, mobile toilet/shower facilities, a removable pot wash structure, and the installation of a cess tank.

It is believed the proposed development will operate from April to October and will include minimal infrastructure whereby pitches will remain as grass.

A circular access track and pitches will be mown to demarcate the layout of the site and around 23 camping pitches will be provided with space for 13 cars. 

The submitted planning statement read: "The proposed development is a low key seasonal tourism development which will support a farm business.

"Farm diversification is essential on the majority of farms in the country to remain viable.

"Diversification is strongly supported by the UK government.

"The proposed development is small scale and has no negative impacts on landscape or the environment.

"No permanent infrastructure is required. Neighbour amenity is not affected.

"There are no negative impacts of the surrounding landscape.

"The character of the area will not be affected.

"The proposals have been fully assessed in regard of all relevant planning policies and issues. We hope the application will be supported by the LPA."