Cotswold Vale Alpacas
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Planning for a Temporary Agricultural Dwelling

Like many people we dreamt off leaving the RAT RACE!! and living on our very own "DREAM FARM" - this is the story of how we have made our dreams in to reality.

Following our dreams 
We followed all the usual routes in trying to fulfill our dream of living with our animals and running a smallholding.  But kept hitting brick walls; either the land was not quite right, was too expensive, we didn’t sell our house in time to raise the funds. 

We finally found what we thought was the perfect project, a barn conversion with some land attached, we found a buyer for our house and all seemed to be going well until we got gazumped!! Someone with cash came along offered more money and a quicker completion date – and so we lost out once again!!

We decided the only way we could move on was to follow through with the sale of our house, go into rented and put the money into the bank so we would then be in a much better bargaining position.  A heartstopping decision with many people thinking we had totally lost our marbles!!

We rented a farm house with stables and grazing which meant we could at least have the horses at home with us instead off in a livery yard costing us money!!  This was lovely, but was still not ours and we still were not fulfilling our dreams of our very own smallholding and living off the land. 

Like many people who dream of living off the land, we couldn't afford to buy a farm or even a smallholding which was already set up, barn conversions are few and far between and from experience we know how difficult it was to buy one.

We never gave up on our dream and researched other options which could help us to fullfill it.    It appeared that agricultural land was easier to purchase without buildings on, but obvsiously being agricultural land you would need to fulfill planning criteria in order to gain any form of planning permission.  

We wanted a small holding and a business so we could leave the rat race and enjoy living off the land, the problem we had was we didn't want to breed anything for slaughter and with our love of horses thought we would love to start up a business based around the horses.

As anyone involved with horses will know it's hard work, not only the looking after the horses, but the amount of work needed to maintain the land they graze, not to mention the expensive!!  So after doing a lot of research we found we would need a lot of horses to justify planning and we felt it was too much for us to undertake and possibly not the way to reach our dream.

We definitely didn’t want to have a business which slaughtered animals so that was your normal farm animals out of the question.    We couldn't afford to purchase a smallholding which was already set up, so what were we to do?

This is where the Alpaca’s came in. 

Quite by chance – we call it fate!!
  Someone mentioned Alpacas to us, how lovely they were, how they required 24 hour supervision and that it may be possible to get planning for an agricultural barn and temporary accomodation on land for an alpaca business. 

We went to meet some of the adorable creatures and promptly fell in love, it was magical and we knew these were the animals we wanted to farm and hoped this would be the way to our dream.

So with lots of research on the Internet about Alpacas and how some breeders had got planning on agricultural land for mobile homes or log cabins, on a 3 year temporary agricultural dwelling basis.  (Meaning after 3 years if they could prove the business was viable and would support a full-time agricultural worker they were highly likely to get permanent full planning to build a farmhouse to support the business - all be it with an agricultural tie – which it should be as it is agricultural land).

So our research continued into alpacas, agricultural planning policies etc etc.  
 I have got to say its not all been plain sailing, with lots of hard work, heartache and stress – we had nearly reached our goal!! (or so we thought).

We had found some land we felt would be perfect, and although we had not quite purchased the land, we were convinced that breeding Alpacas was the way we wanted to develop our own smallholding, so we decided to commit ourselves to our dream and invest some of our money into our foundation herd and start our business.  We would keep them at livery until our land was purchased and planning had been gained!!!
So on a wing and a prayer and another
 heart stopping decision - “Cotswold Vale Alpacas” was born

The foundation herd all chosen and settled in at livery, we prepared to follow on with our plans to purchase land and start out smallholding.

But again things didnt go to plan!! the purchase of the land dragged on, & on & on!!, and after all the planning and waiting, again unfortunately the land we had found, turn out to be not quite what we thought it was!!, lots of issues over access, an increase in it's price and rather a lot of restrictions from the person we were buying from, we realised it was not quite what we looking for. 

Along with the big hit of recession on the building industry putting Tony out of work we decided we could not follow through with the purchase. 
 Nearly at the end of our tether and thinking we would never fulfil our dreams – fate stepped in again!! 

Was it Fate again??
Quite by chance our son noticed an advert for some land which looked perfect for our plans.   To cut a long story short the people selling it were absolutely fantastic; the land was in a perfect spot for our business and within 6 weeks we had purchased it and had become land owners – it finally looked like we might be on our way to reaching our dream.
  Although we knew we still had quite a mountain to climb to convince the planning officers we were determined to make a go of the business, and we would fullfill all the required planning policies!!

Plans into action!!
Land at last purchased, and with a good sound business plan, fantastic support from our business bank manager and a good planning consultant we set to work. The planning application went in.

Tony having very little site work set about getting the land fenced working with our neighbouring farmer they fence the whole 15.75 acres, (the land which had mainly be left to grass and set aside had no fencing around it perimeter at all, it was a hell of a lot of fencing, but the finished effect looks brilliant.

Another Step Closer :-)

We got our planning permission.
2009 we got our planning decision, we had proved we had a strong intent to build a viable business and that there was a need to live on-site.  Our application had been approved, we had been given permission to build an agricultural barn and we were allowed a three year temporary agricultural dwelling in the form of a mobile home which would enable us to live on site with our Alpacas. 

So all the research had paid off, we had obviously produced a very sound business plan and agricultural appraisal.   And have been given the chance to prove we have a viable business.

The hard work starts!! 
Having obtained our planning permission, we could start puting our dream into reality, we now had all the hard work to turn a plain field into a smallholding. 

All our plans now swung into action.
 While waiting for the planning decision, we had spent many hours at the land, planning, measuring and setting out where everything was going to go.



Our Story continues - 

After spending four years living on site in a mobile home, developing our business, building up the herd,  developing the farm buildings, fencing etc we finally hit our goal of financial viability and could apply for full planning permission to build our farm house. 

In November 2013 we gain planning permission from our local council to build our lovely new home, it was the most amazing feeling to know we had made our business a success and we would now be able to start building the new house.

In January 2014 we started to prepare the site ready to start building the first stage was to put the new driveway in.  The house foundations were started in April 2014 and we finally moved into our lovely new home in May 2015 just in time for our 25th wedding anniversary.  Its been a hard road and the work on the farm continues, but we dont regret it one bit, we are now continue to live our dream.  The Alpaca business is going from strength to strength, with the development of our Alpaca Experience and Alpaca Therapy.  The latest project is the conversion of a double decker bus into an on site cafe to do afternoon tea with the alpacas.


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