Tourism concerns after ‘explosion’ in holiday accommodation

Swale View Caravan Park. Photo: Google.

A long-established Swaledale holiday park has claimed the recent “explosion” in the amount of short-term holiday accommodation has impacted on the future of the business as it revealed an ambition to enable people to stay at its site for several months a year.

The Carter family, which first welcomed guests to the Swale View Caravan Park site on Reeth Road, near Richmond, in the 1936, said while it agreed its accommodation should be limited to holiday use only, caravans as short-term holiday lets had fallen out of favour with holidaymakers.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will consider the proposal at a meeting on Tuesday, following repeated warnings by some of its members that the rapid growth of caravan and glamping sites in the area would be unsustainable in the long-term.

In planning documents submitted to the authority, an agent for the family said it hoped to reorganise part of its caravan park to replace some touring caravan pitches with static caravans and end a restriction preventing guests from staying at the park for more than 28 consecutive days or more than 56 days in any one calendar year.

The papers state: “The applicants cannot successfully operate their business if the caravans are restricted to short-term holiday letting only.

“Due to websites such as Airbnb (and similar) there has been an explosion in recent years of the amount of short-term holiday accommodation that is available.

“Additionally, there is increased interest in campervan ownership and camping. The result is that static caravans for short-term holiday lets is presently out of favour with holidaymakers.

“The applicants would need to invest significant sums to provide the static caravans and they do not envisage that they would be able to recoup their investment through the short-term letting of the caravans for holiday purposes.”

The papers state while the site has been given consent for ten glamping pods, the business has only installed three due to poor booking rates.

The application states the family-run venture is however aware of “a very healthy demand for holiday accommodation from those that wish to stay longer and more frequently” in the national park.

In its response to the plans, Hudswell Parish Council said the proposal for longer term lets at the site would free more properties for those who wish to live full-time in the area, encouraging economic growth.

It stated: “The national park needs to create a sense of wellbeing, it’s not a museum, but a national treasure which was created for all to enjoy.”

Planning officers said all tourism businesses had been affected to some degree by the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased demand for holidays in the UK had been a factor in encouraging more proposals for tourism accommodation.

The officers’ report states: “Whether this is a short term effect or a sustained uplift in the longer term trend of increasing demand for short stay accommodation remains to be seen.”

Recommending the proposal be refused, they said lifting the short-term let restriction would result in a significant reduction in the availability of short-term holiday pitches and have a detrimental effect on the tourism strategy and the statutory purposes of the national park.