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Yorkshire Dales racing stable on track for growth with new holiday lodges

• Sun Hill Farm aims to grow turnover by almost £500,000 this year

Sun Hill Farm, a horse racing stable near Leyburn, North Yorkshire, has expanded its holiday lettings business by building six new high-end lodges with support from the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC).

The 50-acre farm now has 12 log cabins, a farmhouse and two cottages available for guests. Occupancy for all lets is at 92 per cent with bookings year-round.

AMC, part of Lloyds Banking Group, provided the farm with a finance package to construct and kit-out the new holiday homes with luxury furniture including hot tubs and saunas.

The stable first diversified into holiday lettings six years ago to take advantage of healthy tourism demand in the Yorkshire Dales, and to reduce its dependency on its racing business.

Turnover at the firm is expected to almost double this year, growing by £500,000. Its revenue has increased exponentially since diversifying into holiday lets.

Spend from overseas holidaymakers in the region increased by 23 per cent in 2018 on the previous year, while the number of visits remained broadly the same, according to the International Passenger Survey by ONS.*

Ann Duffield, owner at Sun Hill Farm, said: “We’re lucky to live in this amazing place in the Yorkshire Dales, which has really opened up to tourism in recent years. Building holiday lodges was an obvious choice when looking to diversify our business with the acreage we had available.

“Bookings took off immediately when we opened our first lodges back in 2013 – and we’re pleased to see this happening again with our latest additions.

“The racing industry can be high-cost and volatile, where you rely on getting good horses and keeping them healthy, so having holiday lettings is an important revenue stream for us.”

Joanne Lampkowski, regional agricultural manager at AMC, said: “The holiday cottages business offers the farm a new source of revenue, which, being on-site, still gives the team the time to fulfil the demanding role of training race horses too.

“The farm’s built fantastic accommodation for visitors to the Yorkshire Dales, which has served to boost the local economy. The lodges employ cleaning and maintenance teams, while each lodge is stocked with local produce, giving us good reason to be by the side of Sun Hill Farm with its latest expansion.”

AMC provided £470m of borrowing to rural businesses in 2018.

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