Policy EMP5: Rural Tourism

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy EMP5:  Rural Tourism

Proposals for sustainable tourism development which respect the character of the countryside (including guest accommodation and visitor facilities) will be permitted where:

  1. It utilises an existing suitable building through change of use or conversion without the need for substantial rebuilding, extension or alteration; or
  2. In the case of a new building, it forms part of an existing facility or cluster of permanent buildings and is of a scale appropriate to its location especially where it could have visual or other unacceptable adverse impacts on the National Landscape, chalk streams, heritage or the character and appearance of the area; New buildings which do not consolidate existing facilities or clusters of permanent buildings will require a robust justification, which demonstrates a need for the new building and that there are not existing buildings available which could meet the requirements of the proposed development in a practical and viable manner;
  3. In the case of extensions to existing buildings, these are sympathetic to the existing building and character of the area; and
  4. In all cases the scale of development is appropriate when considering the impacts on the local highway network and is accessible by sustainable and active means of travel wherever possible, linking to existing footpaths, cycleways and public transport networks.

Proposals for new or expanded existing camping (including glamping) and touring caravan sites will be permitted where the proposals are sympathetic to the character and visual quality of the area particularly where impacts on the National Landscape, chalk streams and heritage are concerned and any unacceptable impacts can be successfully mitigated.

8.31 The borough is extremely fortunate to host a number of outstanding and highly valued rural tourism attractions, such as Highclere Castle, The Vyne, Whitchurch Silk Mill and Laverstoke Mill. The borough also contains extremely beautiful countryside (some with important cultural credentials such as Watership Down), and attractive rural settlements. All of this creates considerable potential for a strong tourist economy, which the council is committed to supporting. However, it is recognised that a balance needs to be maintained to preserve the environmental, historic and cultural assets of the borough, especially in light of the need to achieve sustainable patterns of development in order to help tackle climate change.
8.32 The reuse of existing buildings for tourism has the benefit of limiting the harm to the natural environment whilst also contributing towards farm diversification schemes (where relevant). The reuse or expansion of existing buildings and appropriately scaled new buildings can contribute to the tourism offer of the borough, for example through the provision of self-catering accommodation.
8.33 Camping and touring caravan sites are notable components of the borough’s tourism accommodation offer. The council will support such proposals (including new sites and the expansion of existing sites) where there is an identified need and any visual intrusion resulting from the development can be mitigated (for example through high quality landscaping).
8.34 Proposals will be supported where they encourage and enable suitable access to the countryside, making use of existing or providing new walking trails. This can support active lifestyles and help improve active travel to important tourist destinations such as Highclere Castle and Watership Down.
8.35 Neighbourhood Plans for rural parts of the borough provide an important opportunity for considering the needs of rural tourism, and they are likely to be able to gain a more locally specific understanding of this issue than is achievable at borough level.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • The determination of planning applications.

The policy will be monitored through:

  • Recording and analysing applications for changes in the supply of tourism floorspace in the rural area outside of Settlement Policy Boundaries.