Many farmers choose to diversify in order to spread the risks in their business and create additional revenue streams. There are numerous opportunities, from solar panels to farm walks, from wedding venues to milk outlets, from offices to viticulture! If you're looking for inspiration the business barn has put together the 23 top farm diversification ideas for 2023

Food and drink manufacturing in the UK contributes more than £28 billion into the economy. 96% of the UK's food and drink manufacturing businesses are small and medium size enterprises. The rural sector is well placed to continue to take advantage of this trend. Food and drink service and retail forms an important part of the rural economy in the growth of cafe's, tea rooms, farm shops, ice cream parlours and so on.

Is planning permission required?

If you are changing the use of a building for manufacturing, this creates a bit of a grey area if some products are still agricultural in nature so there may be no change of use, and no permission required. Once products are processed and in packaging they are no longer agricultural and will then be classed as commercial, most will then require planning consent for the change of use. Retail and service businesses will almost always need specific planning consent.

For more information watch our video here:

3 things to consider before starting a rural retail business

With tourism in rural Britain booming, day trip tourism is benefitting from increasing spend year on year. Consumers want to spend time with family and friends in 'experiences' and this includes visitor attractions such as farm parks.

Is planning permission required?

Whilst in most cases we would anticipate the support of tourism proposals, the devil is in the detail and hugely dependent on site. You can change the use of land or a building for up to 28 days per year without the need for planning permission. Anything over 28 days requires permission. If you want to build anything in association with your change of use, for example a toilet block or any new building it will require planning permission.

Click here for a farm park case study:

Case Study - Little Owl Farm Park

Leisure and sport in the countryside has always been popular - golf, walking, cycling, fishing, shooting to name a few. A whole new breed of activities has now revolutionised these countryside activities with growth in fitness boot camps, wolf and mud runs, pilates and yoga studios and so on.

Is planning permission required?

Most local authorities support leisure and sport ventures in principle as they bring about economic and social benefits. However, it will come down to the detail and the effects the proposal will have. Some can create planning issues, such as car parking, vehicular movements, noise to the local area and so on. These impacts must be carefully balanced against the positives and presented in a 'net gain' way.

Around 250,000 couples get married every year in England and Wales with a 'rustic' wedding a popular option. If your property or farm lends itself in setting and location to hosting weddings, this can be a lucrative income with over 25% of the budget being spent on the venue and a further 25% on food and drink. Getting married in beautiful surroundings is a trend here to stay, and for those in the right location it is an exciting industry to be involved in.

Is planning permission required?

You can change the use of land or building (using it for a different purpose to the one it has permission for) for up to 28 days per year without the need for planning permission. This can be really helpful to test your proposition without the need for going for full planning. However, if you want to change the use for more than 28 days, or carry out any building or development work then you will need permission.

Budget: This depends on the type and scale of your project. As a ball park figure this will be between £1800 and £3500, drawings will cost between £750 and £2000.

Timescale: Approx 6 months to 1 year

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