CASE STUDY: CHRIS SCOTT, HORTON COMMON
My name is Chris Scott, and I am the site manager at Horton Common Certificated Site at Lask Edge Farm. My family have lived at Lask Edge Farm since 1950 and we're based in the Staffordshire Moorlands on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
As well as running Horton Common I am also self-employed and I market British made agricultural and renewable energy equipment online to domestic and international clients. Being self-employed has given me the freedom to maintain and run Horton Common around my online marketing business.
Our property is on top of a ridge with fantastic views over the Staffordshire Moorlands and Peak Park. I’ve been caravanning with my parents since I was a child and we contemplated setting up a CS for many years. In 2014 I decided to start the project and secure the relevant planning permissions and consent from the Club. The objective was to share the beautiful views we have with other caravanners, help develop local tourism and generate additional income that can contribute to the running costs of our home.
We wanted to create a unique CS with the best fully serviced pitches possible. The plan was to offer our visitors a site that required them to do very little work in terms of fresh water and waste water maintenance. The objective was to secure repeat visitors to the site for a stable annual income.
In 2014 we first started work setting up the site, the previous year we had spent time designing the layout of the site and producing a check list of required works. The site did require its own cesspit, water and electrical connection and the costs were reasonable. The advantages of doing this are, the site is its own contained setup that does not rely on or effect facilities provided to the rest of our property and therefore the CS has its own value.
When we applied to set up a CS we found the application process very simple, the site officer visited the site and deemed it viable and made our local authority aware of the proposed CS. It’s also worth noting that it’s important to check with your local authority which work does and does not require planning permission. We were surprised to learn that we needed approval from the Highway Authority to slightly widen an existing entrance.
Other than a dedicated cesspit, water and electrical connection we also set the site entrance back 18m from the road so visitors can pull safely off the road. After our first year operating the site we also installed a road and hard standing pitches to avoid issues with heavy rain over the winter months.
It’s safe to say you can do as much or as little as you like as long as you provide the basic requirements, it’s really up to the individual on how much they want to spend on developing. I also found the site officer visits very useful, not only do they highlight any potential issues but they also run through potential ideas on how to improve the site, I found this helpful talking with someone who has a good knowledge of other CSs and this helped me decide on what areas I should and shouldn’t invest money.
We’ve been established for nearly 3 years now and we are really happy with how Horton Common has turned out, we receive great feedback from our guests, and we even won Best CS in 2015 which was voted for by members of the Club. We continue to enjoy running our camping business and the site is relatively low maintenance with mowing once a week and emptying the bins being the most common tasks.
I would definitely recommend setting up a site but would always advise to do your research and think about how much time you have available to maintain a site. For instance, we have chosen not to install toilet and shower facilities as we do not have the available time to maintain them. Therefore, we decided to install fully serviced pitches on our CS to make it standout and attract visitors. My advice would be to make your site unique and remember that customer service is the key to good reviews and the essential repeat visitors.