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Meet the people behind Stanley Villa Farm…

Away from the site, on New Year’s Eve 2014, a year to the day after the proposal, Alex & Clair were married and enjoyed a 3 week honeymoon in America, visiting New York, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

In October 2016 they had their little girl Alice, and in April 2018 followed her little brother Arthur. Both have grown up

wedding

Alex and Alice

Alice learning to walk around the site

family

In October 2016 they had their little girl Alice, and in April 2018 followed her little brother Arthur. Both have grown up

Alex-Alice-Arthur

Helping Daddy cut the grass on the site – one of their favourite jobs!

family-pods

Playing with bubbles around the Pod area

family2022

Family holiday in 2022

Family-winter

Growing up fast – early 2023

Our Journey

The site was originally a Fishing Lake for Trout, dug out by landowner Colin Bradley.

Colin planted native trees around the site and worked alongside local firm ‘Oakenclough’ to construct a facilities building for the fishermen.

Oakenclough started to use the offcuts of wood from bigger projects to create what they called ‘Campingbugs’ or Pods.

At around the same in 2012 Colin’s (now) son-in-law Alex Young moved up from his hometown of Derbyshire.

Alex, 28 at the time, had a background in Marketing and Events at the University of Derby.

Log Cabin for fishermen

Blue Pod in warehouse

A deal was struck between Colin, Alex & Oakenclough that would see the Camping Pods being leased and the income split.

The first paying customers stayed overnight in a Pod in June 2012.

They loved it! No hassle of setting up a tent, a cosy insulated Pod with proper mattresses and all the usual outdoor fun that comes with a camping style holiday.

Pod-Delivery

After the first few months, with lots of bookings and positive customer feedback, it was clear to Colin & Alex that this venture had real potential.

They made the decision to purchase 21 Camping Pods from Oakenclough, and later a further 3 to make 24 in total.

Pods

News-article

Weddings and a fight to stay open

Originally, it was thought the Pods would be used by fishermen.

However, they soon found favour with couples and families looking for a unique and new style of getaway.

With this new direction in mind, Alex ran a ‘musicians camp for free’ scheme whereby musicians could have a free nights stay in return for playing to the rest of the guests! It was a huge success and made some wonderful memories for guests and musicians alike.

Band playing in log cabin

musician

At around the same time, the site played host to its first Wedding.

The weddings were a great success, and brought a lot of happiness to the couples and their families.

However, a nearby caravan site took exception to the weddings and even to families and couples staying in the Pods.

They complained to the local council that the planning permission for the Pods said ‘Pods associated with Fishery’, and they shouldn’t be used by families or couples who aren’t fishing.

The council agreed, and not only did they ban weddings, but went a step further and served an enforcement notice stating the Pods must be removed from the site if we don’t get a new planning permission that says for ‘general camping’.

We applied for the new permission, but the council rejected it.

The very last hope was an appeal to a government appointed Planning Inspector. However, only 30% of appeals are successful, so there was a very real chance the business would have to close.

Bride, groom and guests sitting in front of a bell tent

Wedding

We put everything behind it. Hundreds of loyal customers wrote in on our behalf, dozens of local neighbours and businesses, even our local MP got involved to help save the site.

Fortunately, in April 2019, after several years in the system, the Planning Inspector saw sense and overturned the Council’s decision which allowed us to remain open!

With the stress behind us, and our future secured, we could then really plan to invest in the development of the site. This included: more staff, an onsite shop, more accommodation in the form of Bell Tents, a new fishing lake, Hot Tubs, food vans, animals, and much more!