No one can deny the booming trend in quality, artisan alcoholic beverages, and these are increasingly becoming a popular subject for rural landowners to look at producing and leveraging as a tourist attraction on their site.

There is an emerging opportunity in the UK, with clear evidence of success demonstrated in the international market; many countries are achieving significant economic growth through drinks tourism.

See also: Rural Business Ideas - Food and Drink Industry

Successful Tourist Attractions

Winding Down with a Drink

Alcohol is very much associated with leisure time in many consumer’s minds. Therefore, the experience of a leisurely visit to a well presented visitor centre is now a regular excursion for people looking for a day out or a fun and unusual experience for groups such as hikers, work away days, hen dos and even families when marketed appropriately.

The Whole Story

Tourists often want to see the whole story; part of the attraction is being able to observe the production and learning about the source of a product, it’s background and heritage. The experience can be very entertaining and educational. In particular, small, independent brands are becoming much more interesting to a growing number of consumers especially when it is in a region that is famous for that particular beverage i.e. cider in south west, whisky in Scotland.

Scale Up or Down

The different ways to execute a drinks-based visitor experience on your land are expansive, with varying scales of operation and options on what could engage visitors. From a simple shop, to a restaurant, or even movie theatres. Many estate owners could look at vineyards, wheat fields or orchards as a diversification opportunity for arable land and distilleries/breweries are a potential use for redundant buildings, and incorporate a thriving visitor centre off the back of it. Around 7,400 rural jobs are linked to the drink tourism industry in the UK and we see this growing over the coming years.

Planning Considerations

The easiest route to start a new drinks based enterprise in rural areas will likely be through the change of use and conversion of existing buildings. Many redundant farm buildings, both modern and traditional, will provide large open spaces which will lend themselves to conversion for such uses. Consideration will need to be given to matters such as vehicle access, as well as managing perceived issues of noise and odour impacts.

One Step at a Time

Once a business is established, expansion and the creation of new purpose-built buildings, will be easier. Planning policy supports the expansion and diversification of rural business including those that enable sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments.

Rural Solutions secured planning permission for a traditional brewery in Lancashire to relocate to a rural site with a new purpose-built brewery and visitor centre developed around a traditional farmhouse, in addition to stabling for their famous dray shire horses!

Also, our work on the ‘Whole Estate Plan’ with Wiston Estate in Sussex, set the framework for the estate to secure a planning consent for redevelopment of a farm site to a business centre including a new winery for their award winning sparkling wine business, which will include a new visitor experience within the South Downs National Park.

It is important to note, all diversification advice at Rural Solutions is bespoke to the client. Our recommendations are driven by extensive market research and analysis of the chosen location. This information is merely intended to inspire landowners with the range of possibilities.

See also: Best Business Investments 2019

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