From growing cereals to welcoming breakfasting guests– arable farm diversifies into exclusive holiday cottages

Working with local independent property and farm business consultants, Arthey Associates, arable farmers J P and M Sharpley and Son, have recently launched three exclusive holiday cottages in Thornhaugh, Peterborough, near Stamford, making use of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme grant to fund 40% of the cost of works and provide not only a diversified income stream but also support local businesses in the building, fitting and servicing of the cottages.

Peter Sharpley (left) and Tom Arthey (right) at Croft Farm Barn Holiday Lettings

Offering flexible accommodation for up to 18 guests across three properties (two of which can be connected) and marketed exclusively with Sykes Cottages, the 400 year old Croft Farm Barn Holiday Lettings are a local conservation project, with the application for the RDPE grant taking 18 months from the concept through to confirmation that the funding had been awarded in July 2019. The cottages were completed and welcomed their first guests in early October 2020.

Peter Sharpley said: “We are thrilled that with the RDPE grant, arranged by Arthey Associates, we have been able to not only bring life back to an old farm house at the centre of the village, but also that we are now making use of what were completely unused barns. Whilst providing us with a diversified income, the work that the grant allowed also provides ongoing work for local businesses such as cleaners and laundry services.”

Peter continued: “We are working to put together options for guests to pre-order goods from local farms and shops, whilst the furniture and fittings were mostly sourced locally, including all the glassware from Sinclairs of Stamford. Without the work that Arthey Associates put in to securing this grant for our project, including local market research, we would never have got this off the ground.”

Tom Arthey, director of Arthey Associates, said: “It is really pleasing to see a project like this finished and welcoming its first paying guests. In what has no doubt been a turbulent year, the Sharpley family have worked hard at keeping the project rolling and launching it to take advantage of a new generation of ‘staycationers’ whilst ensuring that the accommodation complies with the latest Covid-19 guidelines. To see a completely redundant set of buildings finished to such a high standard is a great example of the kind of diversification that farms should be looking to undertake to maximise existing and unused assets.”

Tom continued: “Arthey Associates are pleased to be working on a number of similar diversification projects, and whilst the RDPE Growth Programme funding route is no longer open to new applications at the current time, we  always look to make use of any grants that become available and fit with a clients project.”

Arthey Associates are farm business consultants based in Northamptonshire, offering a range of services to clients from the East Midlands and East Anglian regions, and indeed further afield. Their expertise includes property consultancy and planning, business planning and  bookkeeping, as well as community engagement, PR and marketing to ensure that new and existing businesses reach their end customer, whether that is business-to-business or direct to consumer.

If you would like a no obligation meeting to discuss diversifying your farm business or any of our services, please contact Tom Arthey on tom@artheyassociates.co.uk or 07748 295448 / 01832 270269

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