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How to set up a campsite, glamping site or caravan park in the UK: what permissions do I need?

Make sure your site's legit with licensing and planning permission

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At Pitchup.com we're often approached by landowners or start-up companies about the practicalities of setting up a campsite or caravan park.

First, here's some inspiration before we get into the nitty gritty of planning law:

Mains Farm's story of their farm campsite (video)

- Pitchup on BBC Breakfast (from 5:00) on permitted development rights

- Pitchup on BBC News Channel on the 2020 boom in outdoor accommodation

- HERD IT ALL - article in The Sun on how farmers are opening their fields in 2020

Holiday Park Innovation 2019 (Pitchup.com presentation)

Farm Business Innovation 2014 (Pitchup.com presentation)

There's a long list of things to consider and many are well covered elsewhere. Buymydreamhotel.com has a comprehensive article on buying and running a campsite and Metro covered what it's like to ditch city life to live the dream as a campsite owner. Information on rural development grants is fairly easy to find, too.

But what about the permissions you need to open your site to the public? All site owners have to grapple with this complex area, so we've written a guide on how to get your site legit*. (Please note that Pitchup is unable to give legal advice and we recommend that you take independent advice to ensure you are compliant with applicable laws.)

To set up a campsite or caravan park you'll need to think about whether you need planning permission and a site licence:

Planning permission for lodges, caravans, glamping and tents, 28-day camping rule (permitted development) and lawful use

Unless you qualify for permitted development (1) or lawful use (2) below, you will need planning permission from your local authority for:

  • The use of the land as a campsite or caravan (definition) site during a specified period
  • Any related development, including engineering works to install utilities, metalled roads, ground formation, septic tank or effluent treatment plant, ablutions blocks, offices, lighting and other facilities

How permission is sought, if it's necessary at all, can be a complex matter and it may be worth consulting a planning consultant or solicitor or surveyor with planning expertise (see also Useful links below).

The two alternatives to planning permission are:

1. Permitted development

(a) 28-day (now 56-day) tent camping rights

January 2021 UPDATE:

  • In Scotlandguidance has been issued: "In line with the wider approach to relaxing planning control at this time, and for the avoidance of doubt, we do not expect the limits of the 28 day rule to be enforced against reasonable temporary outdoor uses, which may include temporary structures, should a longer period be appropriate and helpful to businesses.". Following a review in September 2020, we have been advised by the Scottish government that the guidance remains in place with no specified end date
  • In Northern Ireland, the Chief Planner issued an update in December 2020: "we do not expect the limits of the 28 day rule to be enforced against reasonable temporary outdoor uses, which may include temporary structures, should a longer period be appropriate and helpful for businesses"

Many tent campsites operate under the '28-day rule' (now 56), a form of 'permitted development' allowing land to be used without planning permission 'for any purpose for not more than 28 (now 56) days in total in any calendar year...and the provision on land of any moveable structures for the purposes of the permitted use'.

This suits the typical summer campsite perfectly, allowing not only tent camping but also portable buildings for ablutions and reception.

While you can now open without planning permission for longer, you may still need a site licence if operating for more than 42 consecutive days. Your local authority will be able to confirm whether they will be enforcing this requirement.

Alternatively, since no licence is required for up to 60 non-consecutive days, you could insert a gap to avoid a consecutive 42-day period.

Since there is no requirement for the 28 (now 56) days to run consecutively, many owners 'cherry pick' the busiest periods, sacrificing some of the summer to open over spring bank-holiday weekends. 

Technically, land must be restored to its original condition between the periods of use, and any moveable structures removed, so a continuous period of 56 days may be more viable.

However, some owners take advantage of different 56-day periods on different parcels, or 'planning units' of land. Generally an area of land under the same ownership would be a single planning unit restricted to one 56-day period, but there may be multiple planning units where, for example, separate land lies between, different uses exist on the land (e.g. a visitor attraction), or an estate lies over a large area.

Note that:

  • moveable structures on wheels or skids in connection with the use of the site, such as portable toilets, benefit from the same permitted development rights. However, any day when such a temporary structure remains on site counts as one of the number of days permitted

  • glamping units, such as bell tents, can benefit from permitted development as long as a 'building operation' is not involved, for example the construction of a solid base. Whether something is a building operation depends on factors such as the size, permanence and physical attachment to the ground. To determine whether planning permission is required you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate or discuss the matter informally with your local planning department

  • similarly, planning permission may still be required for new engineering work to install drains, electricity, roads, etc. However, minor development may excused under the 'de minimis' principle

  • a separate licence may still be required for certain types of moveable facility, such as a take-away van
  • trailer tents qualify for permitted development, but caravans (definition) do not. This prevents touring caravans and motorhomes/campervans being sited, but you may be able to use the licence exemption for 28-day use of up to 3 units
  • permitted development rights do not override existing planning conditions. If you have not provided camping under permitted development ('28-day camping rule') before, we would suggest confirming status with your local planning department

(b) No caravan site licence required

Use as a caravan site where the land is operating under the exemptions from a caravan site licence is permitted development. An exception to this is winter accommodation for travelling showmen, which does not require a caravan site licence but does require planning permission!

(c) Work required by site licence

Any development required to comply with the conditions of a site licence is permitted development.

Note that the above permitted development rights may not be available if:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/490/regulation/73

 2. Lawful use

If a campsite or caravan park has been operating without planning consent, it may be possible to apply to the local authority for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) as an alternative to seeking planning permission. An LDC is a legally binding declaration that 'development' (in this case, use of the land as a campsite or caravan site) either does or did not need planning permission, or has become lawful due to the passage of time. 'Passage of time' means 10 years for use of land, or four years for building works, but note that the burden of proof falls on the applicant. (Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 191.)

The fee for an LDC based on 'passage of time' is the same as for the equivalent planning application (see below). 

An application for an LDC must be decided within eight weeks of registration. Unlike an application for planning permission, the decision hinges only on factual evidence about the history and planning status of the development, and the interpretation of planning law. If the application is refused or granted in a different form, or the decision is not made by the statutory deadline, there is a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Applying for planning permission

If your ambitions go beyond a 28-day (now 56-day) camping site and you're not in a position to apply for an LDC, you need to apply to your local authority for planning permission. Contact your local council's planning department to discuss the matter and determine what sort of planning application is required - it may be that the land benefits from existing planning consent and you simply need to apply to change a condition, or a full planning application may be necessary. (Part III of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990)

When submitting your application, include information on the economic value of the campsite or caravan site, both direct (benefits to your own business) and indirect (benefits to other parts of the local economy). See the links at the bottom of this article for data on the size of the camping and caravan market, and its economic contribution.

How much is it?

Fees vary widely depending on factors such as existing planning consents and plot size. As an example, in England it costs £170 to apply to construct a car park, and £335 to change the use of land. See the Planning Portal for more information on pricing in England and Wales and how to create the compulsory location plan and block plan, as well as an application tool.

The process

After submission, the local authority will publicise the planning application to members of the public and 'consultee' organisations. Consultees may include the local parish council, wildlife trust, public rights of way officers, the Environment Agency, tourist boards and agencies responsible for Heritage Coasts, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

After receiving consultee responses and comments from the public, officers in the council's planning department will produce a summary of the application and recommendation to approve, refuse or defer the decision pending more information. The officer's recommendation should be based solely on the application's 'planning merits' - normally, whether it conforms with the council's development plan and central government guidance - rather than political factors such as the amount of local objection.

The planning officers may present the application and recommendation to a committee of local councillors who will make a decision on the application, which may not match the recommendation; however, minor, uncontentious applications are increasingly being decided by planning officers under 'delegated powers', which avoid having to wait for a committee decision.

Central government's planning guidance for England be found at National Planning Policy Framework, whose presumption in favour of sustainable development will accelerate the planning process, it is hoped, to the benefit of rural tourism business. There are similar documents for Welsh planning policy and Scottish planning policy.

How long does it take?

The statutory time limit for the local authority to decide an application is eight weeks from registration by the authority, unless the application site is larger than one hectare (13 weeks) or an Environmental Impact Assessment is necessary (16 weeks). If permission is refused, or the decision is not made by the statutory deadline, it is possible to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

Site licence: caravan site licence / camping licence

A licence is required from your local authority if:

  • The land is to be used for tented camping (including trailer tents) on more than 42 consecutive days at a time or more than 60 days in 12 consecutive months (Public Health Act 1936, Section 269) (not required in Scotland, which also generally allows wild camping; for Northern Ireland see note*). ('Camping licence')
  • The land is used for caravans (including static caravans, pods, touring caravans and motorhomes/campervans full definition) for human habitation (Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960). You must have planning permission for the caravan site before this licence can be granted and the licence must normally be issued within two months. ('Caravan site licence')

Where sites have mixed types of accommodation, including tent pitches, sites are normally licensed as a single site, with tents deemed to be touring units for the purpose of the conditions.

The licence may contain various conditions - relating to the number and type of units (tent, touring caravan, static caravan, etc.) permissible at the same time, spacing between units, toilets, waste water, showers, refuse disposal, fire safety, roads, footpaths, electrical installations, LPG storage and recreational space. In drafting conditions the local authority is likely to consider the government's 'model standards' for holiday static caravan sites [PDF] and touring caravan sites [PDF].

It's generally a criminal offence to operate a campsite or caravan site without a licence, if one is required. If a licence is in place, it's likely that regular environmental health inspections will be made to check compliance with the conditions. Gas safety certificates, spacing between units, fire points and other aspects may be inspected, and failure to comply with site licence conditions may lead to prosecution.
 
The following section lists exemptions from camping and caravan licences. In general, use as an exempt site is permitted development so an application for planning permission is not required. In rare cases these may have been removed for the reasons set out in the permitted development section below. The exemption from a caravan site licence may also be removed under paragraph 13 of Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, but only if there is a very good reason.

Exemptions from site licence

You can enjoy exemptions from site licence and planning permission all year round if your site joins an 'exempt organisation'. These are recreation clubs such as The Greener Camping Club, the Freedom Camping Club, the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) and the Camping and Caravanning Club (C&CC) which have been approved in Englandin Walesin Scotland or in Northern Ireland to issue 'exemption certificates' to landowners. The exempt organisation would typically inspect the site and make a number of checks before issuing a certificate.

Depending on the type of exemptions held by the exempt organisation you join, your customers will be able to:
  • put up tents (which may include trailer tents, tipis, bell tents, safari tents and yurts) - non-members allowed if site 'belonging to' or 'provided by' the exempt organisation; otherwise members only ('Section 269' use)
  • stay in a 'caravan' (definition) (e.g. touring caravan, motorhome/campervan, pod, hut) as follows:
    • Approved sites exemption: up to 5 caravans at any time - non-members allowed except in Wales ('paragraph 5' use)
    • Supervised and occupied sites exemption: for recreational purposes, if the land is occupied and supervised by the exempt organisation itself - non-members allowed, with no limit on duration or capacity ('paragraph 4' use)
    • Club meetings or rallies exemption: as part of a club meeting for members lasting up to 5 days - non-members not allowed ('paragraph 6' use)

The Freedom Camping Club has published guidance on the types of unit allowed, but please note there may be differences in the rules set by each exempt organisation.

Although non-members can stay at '5-van sites' under approved sites ('paragraph 5') exemption above (except in Wales), the CAMC's 'certificated locations' and the C&CC's 'certificated sites' (CSs) restrict use to its club members only.

A significant membership fee can more than double the cost of the stay, and many customers take few trips each year. As such, if your exempt organisation levies a compulsory membership fee your potential customers may be limited: customers can book a nearby site that either doesn't require membership or provides it free.

For this reason we do not normally accept members-only sites with large joining fees as bookable sites on Pitchup.com and options for promoting your new campsite may be severely restricted.  However, If you have separate land it may be also possible to join Pitchup and remain a CS/CL, and we have a number of sites operating on this basis. It may be possible to 'dual certify' with different clubs for caravans and tents.
 
With 83% of UK holidays booked online in 2019 [PDF], you may wish to ensure Club restrictions allow you to take bookings online, via third parties if not available via the Club's website.
 
We accept sites certificated by the three exempt organisations listed below, and well over 100 exempt sites already take bookings with us.
 
 Exempt organisation List on Pitchup? Membership fee to customers

Tents allowed
('section 269' use)

'Caravans'(definition) allowed
('paragraph 5' use)
Advertising restrictions Online booking via Club website Regions 
Greener Camping Club Yes £10/year per family  15 minus number of  caravans 5 None No England, Wales 
Freedom Camping Club Yes Free Unlimited 5 None No England, Wales
Woodland Champions Club Yes Free 15 5 None No England, Wales
The Camping and Caravanning Club (C&CC) No £41/year per family living together 10 5 (caravans, motorhomes, trailer tents only)

Advertising and online booking not allowed via 3rd parties

No

England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
The Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) No £54/year per family living together 0 (caravans, motorhomes, trailer tents only) None No England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
 
In the 12 months to November 2020, exempt sites registered with The Greener Camping Club or the Freedom Camping Club earned an average of £8,900 in Pitchup bookings, and a maximum of £90,000.
 
In Scotland and Northern Ireland* there is no camping exemption (camping licences are not required in Scotland), but caravan exemptions are available. Exemption certificates do not apply in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Isles of Scilly, and Northern Ireland has a separate system for exemptions. Natural England published an extensive guide on exemption organisations [PDF] in 2013, including a model code of conduct.
  
Note that construction of all-weather pitches (which accommodate larger units and be used all year) would not be covered by permitted development. Similarly, depending on the size, permanence and physical attachment to the ground, building and engineering operations such as the construction of buildings is likely to require planning permission. To determine whether planning permission is required you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate or discuss the matter informally with your local planning department.
 
Alternatives include operating under permitted development rights or submitting a planning application, a route taken by a number of our clients:

"Formerly we have only accepted members of the Camping and Caravanning Club but after nearly 50 years with them as a Certificated Site we decided to go it alone. Last year we started using you as we knew we would need help getting out there in the very competitive world of camping in Cornwall and we were pleased with the bookings we got from you. This year, without the restriction of the Club membership, we have been even more rewarded with bookings via your website." - Trewan Hall Camping Site
 
*in Northern Ireland, a camping licence is not automatically required, but you should check with your local council whether any local licensing is in place
 

Other exempt activities

No licence is required if caravans (definition) are being used:

  • incidentally to the enjoyment of a house, and sited within the curtilage of the house
  • for building/engineering workers or seasonal agriculture or forestry workers or certified travelling showmen
  • by a person travelling with a caravan, for not more than two nights, as long as:
    • no other caravan is stationed on that land or adjoining land in the same occupation; and
    • caravans for human habitation had not been present on that land or the above adjoining land for more than 28 days in the previous 12 months
  • on a plot of five acres or more (including adjoining land in the same occupation and not built on), as long as:
    • caravans for human habitation had not been present on that land or the above adjoining land for more than 28 days in the previous 12 months; and
    • no more than 3 caravans had been stationed at any one time in the last 12 months
  • on sites owned by the local authority
 

How do I apply for a site licence if I am not exempt?

For tents, apply at camping licence (England and Wales) (not required in Scotland).

For caravans, at caravan site licence (England, Scotland and Wales) or caravan site licence (Northern Ireland).

The fee to apply for a licence ranges from zero to £600 or more, depending on your local authority, and there is normally no expiry date unless the site's planning permission expires. As part of the process you would normally be expected to submit a site plan. If your application is refused, you can appeal to the local magistrates' court.

Existing licences do not automatically transfer to another person or business if the business is sold, and need to be transferred by the council. This generally involves a fee.

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Extending the season

England

Given the impact of COVID-19, government issued a ministerial statement in support of a longer season in England: "local planning authorities...should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan and holiday parks to extend their open season".

Questions and answers on the announcement highlight that an application is not always necessary, encouraging applicants to discuss an extended season with the planning authority beforehand:

"Pre-application engagement can improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system and improve the quality of planning applications and their likelihood of success. Local planning authorities can also advise whether a planning application is necessary."

The government also states that, if an application is necessary, it should be prioritised with post-COVID-19 economic benefits taken into account:

"Where local planning authorities consider it appropriate to require an application to vary relevant planning conditions (where for instance there is a risk of flooding or where parks are situated close to protected sites) they should prioritise the application and make an early decision to provide certainty to caravan, campsite and holiday park operators. In doing so, they should consider the benefits of longer opening season times for a temporary period to the local economy as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19."

The guidance applies until 31st December 2022.

Wales

The Welsh Government’s Minister for Housing & Local Government, Julie James MS, wrote to Chief Executives and Heads of Planning of all local authorities and National Park Authorities in July 2020. In her letter she encouraged authorities

“to work with the industry to develop application procedures which minimise inconvenience and cost for applicants while providing authorities the information they need to make a decision within an efficient timescale. I am clear that local planning authorities should support caravan sites and other self-catering accommodation through this crisis by amending conditions to refer to holiday occupancy restrictions rather than using a season occupancy basis, where a policy need is set out in the development plan”

She added that, especially between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, restrictions to protect local features should be the exception and "any time restriction should be kept to the minimum necessary, to avoid significant harm".

A planning guide has been prepared by Planning Aid Wales, to help owners (i) decide whether to make an application for extended operations and, if they do, (ii) to support them through the necessary steps.

Scotland

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing MSP has been reported as urging Scottish local authorities to "recognise the benefits of enabling seasonal businesses such as holiday parks to continue to operate beyond any conditioned limits to their season."

 

Frequently Asked Questions

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What insurance do I need?

Only one insurance policy is legally required as a business: employers' liability insurance (EL), which covers claims by staff for illness or injury. You may also want to take out other types of insurances: we would recommend at least £2m of public liability insurance (PL) to cover claims made by members of the public. Read more.

Find business insurance or talk to an insurance broker. You may also be able to access insurance through a trade body such as the National Farmers Union or Country Land and Business Association.

 

Do I need to provide toilets and showers, and how many?

Around 95% of sites listed on Pitchup.com provide toilets and showers: not only is it easier to attract guests by providing these facilities, but also they encourage longer stays and favourable reviews of your business when kept in good order.  These are usually provided within either toilet blocks or portaloos.

Moveable structures on wheels or skids in connection with the use of the site, such as portable toilets, benefit from the same permitted development rights. However, any day when such a temporary structure remains on site counts as one of the number of days permitted.

Strictly speaking, an unlicensed campsite is not legally required to offer water, toilets or showers. However, you may want to follow best practices on the number of basins, toilets and showers per pitch. The following guidance is from Cornwall County Council's Licence Conditions for Camp Sites (see section H, page 3).

  • For sites with up to 120 pitches there shall be 2 WCs for women, 1 WC and 1 urinal for men, per 30 pitches or part thereof.
  • There shall be 2 wash hand basins for women and 2 for men per 30 pitches or part thereof and shall be provided with a constant supply of hot and cold water sited adjacent to the toilets.
  • Showers with hot and cold water or water at a suitably controlled temperature shall be provided on a scale of 2 showers for men and 2 showers for women per 60 pitches.
  • Foul drainage shall be discharged to either a public sewer, private sewer, septic tank or Cesspool approved by the council.
  • Particular consideration should be given to the needs of the disabled in the provision made for water points, toilets, washing points and showers.

For example, according to the above guidance a 60-pitch site would have:

  • 4 WCs for women, 2 WCs and 2 urinals for men
  • 4 wash hand basins for women and 4 for men
  • 2 showers for men and 2 showers for women 

'COVID-19 Secure' safety guidance is also available.

If you are unable to provide toilets and showers, or they are temporarily closed, there are options for customer to bring their own.

 

Where can I hire portable toilets and showers in the UK?

A selection of hire companies is listed below (please note Pitchup is not in the position to recommend any suppliers):

Note: a licence may still be required for certain types of moveable facility, such as a take-away van

 

Are there any other requirements?

If you are accepting touring caravans and motorhomes, there should be a secure emptying point for chemical waste.

Safe drinking water, a waste water point and covered bins should be provided for dry waste.

Ensure that any access roads can accommodate the vehicle sizes you accept. The entrance to the site should be at least 12ft wide if touring caravans and motorhomes are allowed.

 

How much can I expect to earn from a new campsite?

An average tent site might earn around £13,000 per year on Pitchup.com. However, this figure can rise as high as £577,000, and since lockdown lifted new sites have achieved significantly better results, for example:

  • £100,000 in its first month for an activity centre in Hampshire
  • £217,000 in 2020 for a farm site in Wales (with planning permission)
  • Almost 100 sites that joined since June 2020 earned over £10,000 in their first three months
  • 75 bookings in the first 24 hours for a farm site in Cornwall
  • 600 bookings and £50,000 in the first week for a pop-up site in Cumbria

Contributing factors include local competition, price and type of accommodation. Typically around two-thirds of income is earned from arrivals in June, July or August

In summer 2020 Pitchup hit a new record of 6,500 bookings in a single day.

 

What is the local economic impact?

Outdoor accommodation brings significant economic benefits to local economies, with parties spending an estimated £46 per day off site (source, table 5.6 p. 24).

Locations tend to be expansive and away from urban/residential areas, mitigating social distancing concerns.

As a low-cost holiday with facilities on-site often limited, outdoor accommodation tends to generate high footfall for local services. In many areas, local services would be unable to stay open during the winter without income from summer tourism.

 

What effect has the pandemic had?

For some years, rural holidays in the UK have been benefiting from trends such as wellness and glamping, as well as disruption to air travel, exchange-rate volatility, Brexit and sustainability concerns.

The lifting of lockdown restrictions saw very high demand for domestic holidays without an increase in supply. With accommodation sold out at peak times even in a normal year, many holidaymakers turned to outdoor accommodation for the first time. There is every sign that those new to camping and caravanning are set to return, with our own bookings for 2021 284% up on last year and sales of touring caravans and motorhomes/campervans strongly recovering (source: ECF). Meanwhile, the leading hotel and apartment online agents have reported annual declines of around 50% for the first nine months of 2020. As a relatively low-cost holiday, the outdoor accommodation sector tends to perform well during recessionary periods.

In 2019, Brits spent 512m nights on holidays abroad, compared to only 198m nights holidaying in Great Britain. By contrast, only 55m nights were spent on domestic camping and caravanning holidays, suggesting considerable scope to absorb a shift from international travel towards ‘staycations’ (source: GBTS/IPS).

 

What Coronavirus measures should I be taking?

Visit our guide for the latest restrictions in each country and safety guidance from government and trade associations.

 

What is a caravan? Does a shepherd's hut / pod / gypsy caravan / microlodge / cabin / luxury lodge qualify?

A 'caravan' includes static caravans, touring caravans and motorhomes/campervans, but also typically pods, shepherd's huts, gypsy caravans and moveable lodges:

'“caravan” means any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted, but does not include...any tent' Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960

Many units such as camping pods have been specifically designed to meet the legal definition of a caravan, to take advantage of more favourable planning rules compared to built accommodation. Check with your manufacturer who should be able to confirm this.

 

What types of accommodation benefit from permitted development other than tent pitches?

If a caravan site licence is not needed - for example siting up to three touring caravans, motorhomes or campervans for up to 28 days each year on 5 acres or more - then the use is already permitted development (under planning permission section 1 (b) above). View the scenarios above where a site licence is not required. The answer above explains the definition of a 'caravan'.

As 'moveable structures', trailer tents benefit from 28-day (56-day) permitted development rights. Glamping units, such as bell tents, may also benefit from permitted development ion as long as a 'building operation' is not involved, for example the construction of a solid base. Whether something is a building operation depends on factors such as the size, permanence and physical attachment to the ground of the specific development. To determine whether planning permission is required you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate or discuss the matter informally with your local planning department.

In summary:

  • For tent/trailer tent pitches or glamping units without a building operation, a site licence would be required for more than 42 consecutive days, but planning permission only for more than 56 (consecutive or non-consecutive) days
  • On a plot of under 5 acres, one touring caravan/motorhome/campervan is permitted for not more than two nights for up to 28 days over the last 12 months. More units or days require a site licence and planning permission
  • On a plot of over 5 acres, three touring caravans/motorhomes/campervans are permitted for up to 28 days over the last 12 months. More units or days require a site licence and planning permission
  • Other use or building and engineering work, unless it is required to comply with a site licence or it benefits from other types of permitted development or lawful use, may need planning permission. Minor development may excused under the 'de minimis' principle

 

How long is the season?

With deregulation encouraging a longer season and international travel severely restricted, we are already seeing significantly higher demand overall and specifically for off-peak bookings than normal. According to VisitBritain's COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker [PDF]:

  • Only 27% of Brits took an overnight UK trip in July/August
  • 20% expect to take a UK holiday between September and December, and 10% between January and March
  • 9% have already booked their next domestic overnight trip, and 26% more plan to book between now and March 2021
  • 43% of those taking a UK trip plan to stay in caravan/camping in January - March, making it the most popular accommodation type

 

Do you have a template for risk assessment?

You can find a template for caravan and camping sites at Eden District Council's website.

'COVID-19 Secure' safety guidance is available from our dedicated page.

The British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) has also produced a guide to health and safety in the COVID-19 environment.

The government has also produced a guide to Fire Safety Outdoors [PDF].

 

How can I install electric hook-ups?

Electric hook-ups are increasingly popular - 56% of pitch bookings on Pitchup.com were for electric pitches in the year to January 2021. To find an electrical contractor, visit:

  • NICEIC 0870 013 0382 (UK)
  • ECA 0207 313 4800 (England and Wales)
  • SELECT 0131 445 5577 (Scotland)

 

My land is part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), e.g. SSSI. What difference does this make?

While being in a SAC such as an SSSI does not automatically remove permitted development rights for tent camping, you may need to seek consent from Natural England. Find out more. For SSSIs, this depends on the list of 'Operations requiring Natural England's consent' which you can look up at Natural England's Designated Sites ViewMore information on the SSSI consent process.

 

How does this affect my Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlement?

Non-agricultural activities taking place for more than 28 days in the calendar year should be reported using code NA02 on form RLE1. More information.

 

Where can I find out more about joining Pitchup or speak to someone?

Our join page is the best place to start: alternatively, call us on +44 203 743 9975 or drop us a line via the chat window on that page or our contact form.

 

Useful links

Hopefully this guide has helped you navigate the maze of campsite and caravan site legislation to work out what permissions and licences you need, or even better, avoid them altogether!

Best of luck with setting up your new business and do get in touch if we can help.

 
General

Find suppliers of caravan site services (National Caravan Council)

General business start-up advice (Business Link)

Business rates calculator (Business Link)

 
Funding and economic impact

Statistics on camping and caravanning and links to industry associations (Pitchup.com)

Pitching the Value (summary [PDF]) (British Holiday and Home Parks Association/NCC/CAMC/C&CC)

Economic contribution: holiday and touring parks across the UK [PDF] (British Holiday and Home Parks Association)

Economic impact of holiday parks and campsites (British Holiday and Home Parks Association)

 
Rural development grants
Rural Development Programme for England
 
Rural Development Programme for Wales
 
Scottish Rural Development Programme
 
Rural Development Programme for Northern Ireland
 
 
Exempt organisations

Organisations exempt from camping licences or caravan site licences in England (Natural England) - camping organisations [PDF]. caravan organisations [PDF]

Organisations exempt from camping licences or caravan site licences in Wales (Welsh government)

Organisations exempt from camping licences or caravan site licences in Scotland (Scottish government)

Organisations exempt from camping licences or caravan site licences in Northern Ireland (Northern Irish government)

 

The Greener Camping Club 

Freedom Camping Club

Woodland Champions Club

 
Specialist advisors

Find a planning consultant

Find a chartered surveyor

Find a solicitor

Business Advice Service (free consultation with a chartered accountant)

 
Individual planning consultants

Alison Heine, Cheshire - tel. 01606 77775 / heineplanning@btinternet.com

James Shorten - tel. 07726 362709 / james.shorten@geo-ltd.com

Chris Tivey Associates - tel. 07835 927754 / chris@cta-planning.com

Peter Tufnell, Herefordshire - tel. 01531 640675 / 07710 234332 / peter@tufnellplanning.co.uk

Samuel and Son, East Sussex - tel. 01435 864020 / dan@samuelandson.co.uk

Chapman Lilley (Brett Spiller), Wareham - tel. 01929 553818 / brett.spiller@clplanning.co.uk

Anthony Keen, Kent - tel. 01622 814640 / info@barhamcourt.co.uk 

Martin Smith, Norfolk - tel. 01508 530401 / ms.partnership@virgin.net

Davies and Co., Northants - tel. 01536 524808

Alexis Tysler, Halesowen - tel. 0121 585 5544 / enquiries@planexconsulting.co.uk

Mike Hannis - mikehannis@gmail.com

 
Firms specialising in caravan parks and campsites

Fox Leisure (chartered surveyors, business agents)

Avison Young (chartered surveyors, business agents)

Lambe Planning & Design (planning consultants)

Tozers (solicitors)

Colliers (business agents)

Sanderson Weatherall (business agents)

Savills (business agents)

Members can also receive advice from associations such as the Country Land and Business Association or National Farmers Union.

 

* Please note that this article relates to sites for holiday use, rather than owner-occupied or residential parks, in Great Britain only (there are different rules for Northern Ireland). Pitchup is unable to give legal advice or accept responsbility for errors and omissions, so it also comes with the usual health warning to seek your own professional advice on implementing the rules.

 

(first published February 2012, updated February 2013, November 2014, January 2015, November 2017, January 2020, May 2020, July 2020, November 2020, December 2020, January 2021, February 2021)