A farm experience centre and lodge park in County Durham is among proposed new developments driving a ‘buoyant’ regional leisure sector, reports a North East planning firm.

Hedley Planning Services, which is involved in several projects across the North of England, which will create dozens of new jobs, says that the impact of the lockdowns and removal of free travel is seeing the rapid development of local tourism projects to meet surging demand for UK holidays.

The firm has been instructed to provide planning services on more than 10 possible North East and Yorkshire leisure developments, reflecting its burgeoning presence in the sector.

In a move that could see upwards of 150 new holiday lodges and cabins built in the next 12 months, it’s working with holiday and leisure operators to bring forward plans for new lets in Redcar, Cleveland, Hambleton, Beamish and Yorkshire among other locations.

The firm is also steering through plans for a new barn building near Consett along with up to 37 holiday lodges, many of which will accommodate families who have a family member with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The proposed schemes could generate in excess of £20 million worth of high-quality leisure-style accommodation regionwide, supporting upwards of 300 new jobs in the construction and associated supply chain.

In addition, millions of pounds could also be generated for the North East economy annually as holidaymakers visit and spend their cash on local products and services.

With overseas holidays on hold for many across the country following the outbreak of coronavirus, staycations have never been so popular. In fact, research by a leading holiday park operator has found Brits could flock to UK resorts throughout the rest of summer.

According to data, approximately £48 bn is spent annually on summer travel, but with more people looking to holiday closer to home, a large chunk of this could be injected back into regional staycations.

And this includes boosting the economy in the North East of England, with its host of attractions, award-winning beaches and national parks.

Director Joe Ridgeon said it’s the leisure schemes that are different that work best, contributing significantly towards securing final planning permission.

He said: “We are seeing a lot of activity as leisure sector operators push forward their plans to tap into the staycation market. But it’s the projects that offer a new experience or all-round different holiday experience that will gain the most traction from a planning perspective.

“For example, Woodland Park Farm’s development will see disabled and disadvantaged youngsters have family holidays while enjoying a whole raft of new interactive experiences in a safe and secure environment.

“It’s clear that operators and developers across the leisure sector must have to think and act differently if they are to get their schemes off the ground. This requires long term strategic input, planning and vision to maximise success – and firms like ours can help with advice and ideas.”

The news comes as Hedley Planning Services, which has offices in Hexham and Wynyard, continues to maintain a resilient performance in the face of uncertainties caused by the virus crisis, providing unparalleled sector experience for clients navigating the planning process.

“With our expertise and experience, we’re working hard with developers and planning authorities to ensure that planning applications are both viable and meet regional needs,” Joe Ridgeon added.


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