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Glamping comes to Elmley Nature Reserve, Sheppey, after plan approval by Swale council

By Emma Grove

Tourists looking to get back to nature will soon be able to stay overnight at one of Sheppey’s most popular spots.

Gareth Fulton, who manages the Elmley reserve, has put forward plans to install three mobile huts to be used as guest accommodation.

The proposal was discussed at Swale council’s planning committee at a meeting on Thursday and they agreed to support it.

Gareth Fulton at Elmley Nature Reserve

It’s as part of a ‘farm diversification’ project to encourage people to visit.

The huts are described as very basic, with just a wood burning stove and bed, and no connection to mains services.

Strict conditions include guests will not be allowed to have barbecues, music or lights on anywhere near stretches of water.

Mr Fulton spoke to councillors about the plan, and emphasised that the units will be mobile so if they decided it wasn’t the right thing for Elmley, they could be removed.

“It’s glamping, it’s active, it’s fun and it’s interesting and we hope it will attract a new type of visitor,” he said.

“Elmley is very popular for people who know it and we want to open it up and bring people to the Island.

“We feel this is the most sensitive way to do it and we hope it will be a really positive thing for Sheppey and for Elmley.”

Minster Cliffs councillor Andy Booth suggested a site meeting for those members who aren’t as familiar with it so they could see the ‘potential impact’ of the scheme.

His colleagues were equally in favour and against this, so committee chairman Cllr Richard Barnicott had the casting vote and decided there was no need for a visit.

A point was raised about facilities for visitors and the officers explained these will be provided from the existing farm buildings.

Mr Fulton highlighted one of the conditions which has been imposed, which says the huts are not to be used between December 1 and March 31, which is a significant time of year for bird-watchers.

Councillors discussed this and it was agreed they would approve the application and allow officers to work out the details on this condition and whether there is even a need for it, as restrictions are usually only imposed for caravan sites.

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