BBC News has this morning reported a surge in demand for 'pop-up' campsites around the UK.  At this point I thought it would be timely to run a quick refresh on what the planning rules are for farmers and other rural land owners to bring in a 'pop-up' onto their land as part of their diversification plans,and how all this has changed as a result of the pandemic.

Camping, not Caravanning.

As the MD of PitchUp pointed out to the BBC, "we've had the 28-day rule a long time".  

The first thing to remember though is that these are campsites not caravan sites.  The rules for caravans are dealt with below and have not been updated since 1960.  

Schedule 2 Part 4, Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as well as its predecessor the 1995 Order grants permission for the temporary use of land for not more than 28 days in any calendar year provided that the use of the land for a temporary purpose is not as a caravan site.  A 'pop-up' camping site is the classic case of a temporary use of land but is by no means not the only "temporary use" available to those interested in diversifying in the hot summer months; with other options including car parking or the holding of markets (subject to a slightly lower limit of 14 days).  

Pandemic "extra's".

Elements of planning law have been amended quickly to provide additional business opportunity's to cope with the effects of the pandemic on all of our lives and both Nicola and I have blogged on these before.

In the case of camping, or temporary uses, the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 granted an extra 28 days for temporary uses in 2020 and 2021.  As such, as it stands, the 56 days for temporary uses, such as camping sites is only available until the end of this year.  Rural and other camping groups are campaigning to extend this (but as with other pandemic successes*    

Landowner's must remember to use it wisely.  If the full 56 days is taken continuously from the start of the sunny climes this June it may have been used up entirely by the end of July.  For those wishing to commit to a larger, fuller change of use, it is still worth exploring a planning permission or caravanning partnership with an exempt organisation.  

Camping for more than 42 consecutive days at a time and on more than 60 days in any period of 12 months would also need a license under the Public Health Act 1936.  

The Caravans Act 1960

Schedule 2 Part 5 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as well as its predecessor the 1995 Order, made paragraphs 2 - 10 of Schedule 1 to the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 permitted development.  Planning permission is not required for: -

  1. use by a person travelling with a caravan for one or two nights: land may be used as a caravan site for a single caravan for up to two nights, but subject to an annual limit of 28 days on that land or adjoining land;
  2. five acre holdings: up to three caravans are allowed without a site licence for up to 28 days a year on holdings of not less than 5 acres.
  3. exempted organisations: the Secretary of State for the Environment may grant a certificate of exemption under para.12 of the Schedule to any organisation as to which he is satisfied that its objects include encouragement or promotion of recreational activities. 
  4. sites approved by exempted organisations: an exempted organisation may also certify caravan sites for use by its members for the purposes of recreation, for a period in each case of up to one year. Up to 5 caravans.
  5. meetings organised by exempt organisations: such meetings for less than 5 days are outside controls.
  6. agricultural and forestry workers: the stationing of a caravan on agricultural land for purposes incidental to the agricultural use of the land.

The exempt organisations referred to at 4 - 6 above are 

  1. Scout Association
  2. Girl Guides
  3. Salvation Army
  4. Church Lads and Church Girls Brigade
  5. National Council for the Y.M.C.A.
  6. Army Cadet Force Association
  7. Caravan Club
  8. Camping and Motorhome Club
  9. London Union of Youth Clubs

To my knowledge there has been no change to these 1960s' Caravanning privileges as a result of the pandemic but they remain useful ways to diversify if the business needs of the landowner require it.

* don't even get me started on the absence of virtual committees...