Authorities incentives to spice up the agricultural financial system throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated a shift in direction of diversification into short-term public occasions on farmland.
There was already an upward development in demand for out of doors actions earlier than the pandemic, in keeping with rural advisor Bidwells.
The agency’s senior rural surveyor Louise Newton explains why the development has grown and affords recommendation on the potential advantages and pitfalls of holding a brief occasion.
We additionally tackle the authorized and tax points and check out two farm case research – a music competition and an out of doors cinema.
See additionally: Learn how to go about diversifiying into farm pop-up campsites
Occasions held on farmland embrace:
- 10km runs
- Automobile membership meets
- Out of doors cinemas
- Music festivals
- Farm walks
- Mountain bike trials
- Wild foraging
- Deliver-a-dog enjoyable runs
- Fetes and festivals
Diversification into many of those ventures elevated final yr, primarily as a result of prolonged Permitted Improvement Rights (PDRs), in keeping with Louise Newton, senior rural surveyor.
These rights permit farmland for use for non-agricultural functions for a brief interval annually with out requiring planning permission.
Beforehand, the allowance was 28 days a yr. However this was doubled to 56 days final yr to assist rural companies recuperate after the pandemic. The extension will proceed till January 2022 to assist additional restoration.
Different land use restrict for BPS
In addition to the PDRs, there’s additionally a 28-day various use restrict on land the place the Fundamental Cost Scheme (BPS) is claimed. This has not been prolonged in keeping with the PDRs.
Though the Rural Funds Company has prompt it might take a relaxed stance to enforcement, Ms Newton says that formally, land used past the 28-day restrict wouldn’t be eligible for BPS.
This needs to be factored in when calculating the prices versus the advantages of a enterprise. Landowners should additionally be capable to confirm how lengthy the land has been used for the choice exercise, utilizing diary data and pictures taken on smartphones.
Alternatively, landowners may get full or short-term planning permission as a substitute of utilizing PDRs. Native council utility charges quantity to round £462 for both a full planning utility or short-term consent (usually for a three-year interval).
This requires a plan or map with purple strains indicating the positioning plan and desires to incorporate entry concerns. Any restrictive land designations which will affect the result should even be researched.
See additionally: 10 factors to contemplate earlier than changing farm buildings
Broadly talking there are two choices. First, the landowner or farmer can run the exercise and take all accountability for the enterprise, or they’ll let the land to an occasion firm that handles every little thing.
For first-time ventures the lower-risk strategy is to let land to a enterprise with the experience to carry the occasion.
On this case a contract stipulating preparations of how the landowner is to be rewarded for the usage of the land needs to be agreed. That is often a straight rental charge or a proportion of earnings from the occasion.
Nonetheless, smaller ventures like farm walks may simply be run by the landowner, supplied care is taken and planning is completed effectively forward, typically needing skilled recommendation and consultancy assist.
Earlier than deciding to go forward, farmers ought to set out all of the potential upfront prices, resembling hiring bathroom blocks and tools, well being and security assurance and offering water or electrical provides to the positioning.
With the prices identified, the potential returns might be estimated, adopted by possible margins.
Web site concerns
When bringing the general public on to a website there should be correct entry. A slim subject entrance may cause harmful congestion to construct up on a public freeway, whereas an exit straight from a subject can imply mud being left on a street.
This wants cautious consideration and one tip is to make use of a one-way system, with separate entrances and exits. Ample employees must also be employed to handle and direct the car circulate.
Queues are probably harmful and might be irritating, resulting in destructive critiques.
A moist climate plan must also be drawn up, with tractors on standby to drag autos off the positioning and street sweepers out there to clear mud.
It’s advisable to make use of arduous tracks and surfaces to restrict difficulties and dust on car tyres. A website ought to ideally be stage and well-drained, however light slopes or undulations are acceptable.
Grass leys or arable floor that’s extra more likely to endure from compaction or injury are finest prevented.
Customer numbers and reserving
Gauging customer numbers is vital, as too few may result in monetary loss, however too many may trigger visitors congestion, and well being and questions of safety, overwhelm services and result in unhealthy critiques.
This might be much less problematic if the preliminary strategy is to let the land to an skilled firm that may higher gauge possible customer numbers.
If the enterprise is run by the farm, it could be smart to ask guests to e-book, both over the cellphone utilizing a easy spreadsheet, or by way of an internet ticket service.
Promoting an occasion is extra simple and cheaper than previously. Fb can unfold the phrase with out price by way of native village pages or goal teams of potential clients.
Different social media websites together with Instagram or Twitter additionally provide an opportunity to push an upcoming occasion. Native newspapers can nonetheless present high-profile protection and shouldn’t be ignored.
Well being and security
It could be clever to make use of an unbiased assessor to make sure that all dangers are taken under consideration. The recommendation needs to be documented and understood.
It isn’t sufficient to have the paperwork alone – all employees should act on the evaluation recommendation.
In addition to website security, meals security is paramount. Coaching and licensing are advanced, time-consuming and dear.
Utilizing outdoors catering firms, hiring out pitches or taking a share of the takings in keeping with a contracted association can scale back threat for the landowner or occupier.
The licence or contract with an out of doors occasion firm ought to set out the obligations of all events concerned and specify the realm of land the place the occasion can happen.
As such, it’s a vitally vital doc that needs to be agreed and signed by each events.
It ought to embrace points resembling well being and security, who offers services and providers, safety, insurance coverage cowl and legal responsibility, together with limits for customer numbers and period of the occasion.
Additionally it is essential to ascertain who’s chargeable for the positioning clean-up. This needs to be adopted up by an inspection and a list to make sure the positioning is returned to its former situation.
Insurance coverage points
Normal farm insurance policies are unlikely to cowl all the dangers concerned in internet hosting an occasion on farms, says William Kendrick of insurance coverage dealer Lycetts.
A standalone coverage could also be wanted to fulfill explicit threat ranges, which fluctuate significantly in keeping with particular person circumstances.
A lot may also rely on whether or not the farm is internet hosting the occasion or letting land to a 3rd celebration. Letting to a third-party organiser is undoubtedly less complicated and transfers a lot of the chance.
Regardless of the situation, it is very important contain an insurer early on within the course of to make sure all dangers are assessed and addressed, Mr Kendrick says.
The principle cowl wanted is public legal responsibility, and threat assessments should be in place, together with a plan for visitors motion.
Site visitors congestion may result in accidents, so there should be a rigorously labored out plan, together with a contingency for unhealthy climate.
If the landowner is internet hosting the occasion, then in addition to public legal responsibility cowl, employer legal responsibility for workers working on the occasion should be included.
Gear needs to be coated for dangers resembling theft or injury.
The landowner might be chargeable for insuring public security when utilizing any tools, so it should be erected correctly and assessed, together with checks on all the electrics.
The whole price of insurance coverage for an occasion varies extensively, however might be something from £250 to many hundreds of kilos.
Having a contract drawn up between the farm enterprise and anybody letting land for an occasion is an important step, in keeping with Jeanette Dennis, companion at Ashtons Authorized.
Though a written doc isn’t a authorized requirement, setting out an agreed contract will present a strong reference if one thing goes mistaken.
For instance, a competition operated by a 3rd celebration may result in points over noise, gentle air pollution or mud, mud and waste.
Mud on highways is a threat to public security and it should be made clear earlier than the occasion who’s chargeable for clearing it up.
It will be important a contract units out who’s chargeable for management of those points. If not, then the landowner is more likely to carry that accountability within the face of any problem.
The contract ought to stipulate that health-and-safety measures are put in place, based mostly on a radical evaluation, and set out what actions are allowable.
It must also set out the situation of the land or buildings earlier than the occasion and an settlement to have them absolutely restored afterwards.
Along with these strategies, if the farm is tenanted, there should be an settlement in place with the owner.
You will need to do not forget that each occasion is completely different, so anybody pondering of holding an occasion ought to search skilled steering.
Farmfest music competition, Gilcombe Farm, Somerset
Gilcombe is a 120ha natural farm with 200 milkers plus followers. Farm supervisor George Portch advises anybody contemplating a non-agricultural enterprise to begin small and perform detailed costings and planning.
Mr Portch’s involvement within the Farmfest music competition enterprise started 15 years in the past underneath a land-letting association with a bunch of pals who organised the occasion.
Nonetheless, he purchased the competition rights and is now organising the primary occasion utterly underneath the farm’s management this summer time.
Over time, Farmfest has grown from a number of hundred attendees to providing 5,000 tickets at £99 every.
Regardless of its scale, the occasion remains to be carried out underneath a 28-day PDR interval on the farm’s everlasting pasture.
Mr Portch says the rules and potential pitfalls are relevant to anybody planning an occasion.
Public security should be deliberate lengthy earlier than the occasion takes place and documented in an occasion safety-management plan.
The plan includes a threat evaluation, which he suggests ought to contain an unbiased security assessor.
Assessors are skilled to establish potential issues that may in any other case be ignored.
Sensible farming pitfalls additionally exist. Harvest, fieldwork and silaging are all pinch factors, so these instances needs to be prevented, with a large margin of error to permit for climate modifications.
Mr Portch additionally urges farmers to consider potential injury to land. A grass ley might be ruined by heavy footfall or visitors, so occasion floor ought to ideally be older pasture, he advises.
There should even be a moist climate contingency plan in place. Rain can play havoc in automotive parks except actions are rigorously deliberate.
“Our fields slope so we park automobiles dealing with downhill,” he says. The farm additionally has a neighborhood contractor on name to make sure no mud is left on the street.
Out of doors cinema, Luton Hoo Property, Bedfordshire
Luton Hoo is a 485ha property made up of principally arable land.
Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire was approached by a longtime out of doors cinema firm requiring only a small space of land.
The corporate, referred to as Drive and Dine, wanted lower than 1ha of stage grassland to website a brief cinema in June 2020 over a two-week interval.
Property supervisor Amelia Newman says the settlement was for the corporate to take the accountability for the occasion whereas Luton Hoo took a proportion of the revenue.
The occasion triggered little affect on the property and its neighbours as a result of noise and light-weight air pollution have been minimal.
Vehicles arrived and drove to a plot marked out by the corporate. There was a crate in every designated plot containing a radio to select up the movie soundtrack and pre-ordered food and drinks, Ms Newman explains.
Regardless of the comparatively small measurement, the sphere took 250 automobiles for every screening with as much as 4 exhibits a day. Tickets have been £18 every for adults and the occasion ran for 14 days.
“With as much as 1,000 automobiles a day our key consideration was visitors, so we devised a one-way system and put down wooden chip when the climate was moist,” she stated.
The property insisted on drawing up a licence settlement for the corporate to signal.
You will need to have a documented association, simply in case one thing goes mistaken or there are disagreements,” Ms Newman says.
The licence included:
- Requirement for a spreadsheet to be saved, recording all car quantity plates for property safety
- An settlement on reinstatement of land to its former situation
- The corporate’s insurance coverage particulars and scope of canopy
- Danger assessments and all well being and security paperwork
- Set-up and elimination instances
- Most customer numbers
- Utilization and noise restrictions
- Entry areas
- Settlement on stewardship margins so occasion firm workers knew the place to keep away from.
The enterprise proved a hit and the property has realized sufficient from the corporate to maneuver into operating its personal open air theatre this yr.