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7 key findings from Lichfields’ latest research into rural tourism
Lichfields has published its most recent insight Rural estates: economic benefits of rural tourism. This time we have turned our attention to rural areas and the potential for country estates to diversify their existing operations, to include provision of tourist accommodation. With the political and economic backdrop in flux, we consider that this is a market in which landowners and estate managers could make gains, while at the same time providing jobs and stimulating investment in the rural economy. Some of our key findings are set out below. The tourism industry throughout the UK is flourishingIt grew at a rate almost double that of the rest of the UK economy between 2000 and 2016. This trend looks set to continue. This equates to significant economic gainsIt is anticipated that some 630,000 additional jobs in tourism will be generated between 2013 and 2025, at a value to the tune of £130.5 billion. That’s more than double its present value. The countryside looks set to benefitVisits to rural areas have consistently accounted for 20% of all domestic tourist trips. If this proportion is maintained, as it is expected to be, then the growth forecasted in the sector as a whole presents significant opportunities for rural landowners. There are many business models open to those seeking to tap into this marketFrom relatively ‘intensive’ operations such as hotels and guesthouses through to ‘lower commitment’ options such as camping, there is a range of different products which could be matched to any given country estate. Which one is right for will depend on locational and site specific attributes. Hotels are the most popular model for visitorsHotels, along with guesthouses, B&Bs and self-catering properties, attract 86% of stays in Scotland. Hotels also attract the highest spend per person per night and present the best opportunity for year-round bookings. However, these models also entail the greatest ‘commitment’, property-wise. Other niche accommodation types may be better suited to some country estatesWhile hotels and other traditional types of accommodation may be the most popular in the round, camping, glamping and AirBnB can also present profitable diversification models, with lower start-up and maintenance costs. While these models may result in fewer direct employment opportunities, they still make contributions to the local economies that they operate within. Planning is key to unlock the value in rural estatesEconomic impact is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Due to the remote nature of the majority of rural areas, making a compelling planning case for development that clearly articulates the positive economic impact of any proposal and balances this against any locational disadvantages is paramount to success.  

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Brazil’s able-bodied Olympic Games are over and the Paralympics finished on September 18th. It will be another four years before we get to see Simone Biles defying gravity or Katinka Hosszú swimming faster than a sailfish. But once the athletes have left town, what happens to the Games’ buildings they leave behind?Olympic villages are relatively easy to repurpose and are often sold off or rented out as ordinary flats, although the local economy doesn’t always favour host nations in this respect. Abandoned housing from the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the largely unoccupied Winter Olympics Village in Turin, 2010.[1] The stadiums and other venues are a little more challenging. London’s 2012 Olympics have been widely praised as being exceptionally well-planned and ensuring the primary focus was on what would happen after the Games (‘the London 2012 Olympic Legacy’), not just the sporting events during the month and half of Olympic and Paralympic competitions. Stratford is undergoing a continuing, rapid transformation and regeneration. Housing and office buildings are being constructed next to the re-branded East Village (the former Athlete’s Village which is now private rented housing). The Velo Park, Aquatics Centre, Tennis and Hockey Centre and Copper Box Arena are all open to the public, hosting classes and events. The Stadium itself has been re-purposed as the new home of the West Ham Football team – although this has not been easy to achieve. In Rio, vast swathes of favela (urban slum) dwellings were cleared to make way for the Athletes’ Village and Olympic arenas which apparently, having been designed modularly, are to be turned into four schools, two public swimming pools and a public park now that the Games are over. The future of the Olympic Village is not quite so community-minded and the developer hopes it will become a new upmarket area of town.At least there are plans for the buildings though. The majority of Athens’ 2004 Olympic venues remain unused and are deteriorating with no clear plans for future use in place. Beijing’s fantastical Bird’s Nest Stadium – designed by Herzog & de Meuron as ‘an architecture that will continue to be functional following the Games in 2008’ - currently costs the taxpayer more than £8 million a year in maintenance fees and it’s not being fully utilised. It has hosted a handful of events since its construction eight years ago and tourists can currently zip round it on a Segway for £15. Athens’ abandoned Olympic Canoe and Kayak Slalom (left) and disused swimming pool (right).[2] It is a shame that buildings in which world records were broken and history made, or which are architectural marvels in their own right, should not have a more propitious future. Given their historical, evidential, communal and often aesthetic value, a great many Olympic venues ought, by rights, to be included on their countries’ statutory lists. In Britain, we have just one listed building which was used for an Olympic event (and we’ve hosted three)![3]Wembley Arena is a Grade II listed building, designed by Sir E Owen Williams for the 1934 Empire Games. It is built of reinforced concrete and had the largest concrete span in the world at the time. It is noted for its 15 massive concrete buttresses and gabled ends, with narrow windows which increase in height from the edges to the centre. Used for the 1948 Olympic Games, it is the only building on the statutory list to hold this accolade. Wembley Arena.[4] The Great Stadium, later known as White City Stadium, was built for the 1908 London Olympic Games and hosted a 1966 World Cup football match as well as being an important greyhound racing venue and speedway track. Hailed as the precursor to modern stadium design, and the UK’s first Olympic stadium, it was demolished in 1985 and the site was later developed for use by BBC White City. China’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, (left) designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the project architect was Stefan Marbach, in collaboration with artist Ai Weiwei;[5] and London’s 1908 White City Stadium, demolished in 1985 (right).[6] A number of the UK’s purpose-built 2012 Olympic venues are architecturally outstanding, particularly the Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid and the Velodrome by Hopkins Architects; they may well meet the criteria for listing. There are no velodromes included on the statutory list,[7] despite there being a (brief) entry about velodromes within Historic England’s Guide to Listing for Sports and Recreation Buildings. Although there are listed swimming venues, Zaha Hadid’s exceptional design must surely be worthy of consideration; listing one of her last creations would be a fitting tribute to such an outstanding modern architect. These venues are certainly under no threat of disappearing for now as they’re well-used and therefore not creating a financial burden. London’s Velo Park by Hopkins Architects,[8] and Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid.[9] Hosting the Olympics can be an incredibly expensive undertaking. London’s 1948 Olympics re-used a great many existing sporting venues to host the events, as did Los Angeles’ in 1984, the first Games to turn a profit since 1932.[10] The recycling of venues is becoming increasingly popular. LA is proposing to host the city’s third Olympiad and putting old venues to use once again in 2024,[11] and Russia is building a new stadium inside the 1980 Olympic Stadium in Moscow, to host the 2018 World Cup.[12] The stadium was built in 1956 and its refurbishment is seen as a positive re-use of a building which holds great meaning for the people of Moscow.[13] Tokyo will host the next Games and their proposals include reusing a large number of their 1964 Olympic venues, necessitating the construction of only 11 permanent new buildings. They also propose to make their Games as environmentally sustainable as possible, powering the athlete’s village with hydrogen and locating the stadiums as close to one another as possible to reduce travel emissions. Inspired by Rio, Tokyo’s Olympic Committee intends to turn some of the temporary venues into schools following the Olympic Games.[14]Olympic bids are often used as catalysts for urban regeneration with motives ranging from welfare concerns in London to purported shame at unsightly slums in Rio, but hopefully delivering social benefits in the long run. Having a long term plan for the proposed Olympic stadia is now a requirement of any Olympic bid. If well-planned, holding the Games can have an incredibly positive impact on the host cities and nations. Recycling buildings is both economically and environmentally friendly; recent Games have produced some spectacular pieces of architecture which will hopefully continue to be valued and utilised, in order to be fitting symbols of remarkable human achievements. [1] http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/athletics/olympic-stadiums-ruins-how-former-8567479[2] http://metro.co.uk/2016/08/05/what-legacy-when-olympic-stadiums-are-left-to-crumble-6050917/[3] The German Gymnasium at Kings Cross was the first purpose built gymnasium in Britain and hosted the pre-cursor to the Olympic Games in 1866 (the first modern Olympic Games as we know them were held in Athens in 1896). NLP was involved in the Gymnasium’s sensitive conversion to a German restaurant.[4] http://www.wembleywaspparking.com/blog/wembley-arena-renamed-the-sse-arena/[5] http://holidayphoto.weebly.com/beijing-national-stadium.html[6] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/3542374/Olympic-spirit-too-much-for-Cornwall-rugby-team-against-Australia-in-1908-Rugby-Union.html[7] The Herne Hill Velodrome is the last remaining venue from the 1948 Olympics which is still in use for its original purpose, but it is not listed.[8] http://www.globaltravelmate.com/europe/united-kingdom/london/london-olympics/2521-london-velopark.html[9] http://www.e-architect.co.uk/london/london-aquatics-centre[10] http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/after-the-party-what-happens-when-the-olympics-leave-town-901629.html[11] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/world-olympics-rio-stadiums-games-sports/[12] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/sports/soccer/russia-world-cup-stadium-rises-matryoshka-style.html?_r=0[13]  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/sports/soccer/russia-world-cup-stadium-rises-matryoshka-style.html?_r=0[14] http://www.building.co.uk/tokyo-2020-the-recycled-olympics/5083662.article

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