Camping in Car Parks, Farmers' Fields, Sports Grounds &c.
Brief analysis of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

Use of land as a caravan site is subject to the provisions of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and may also require Planning Consent.

S1(4) of the Act defines a “caravan site” as “land on which a caravan is stationed for the purposes of human habitation* and land which is used in conjunction with land on which a caravan is so stationed”. Therefore, as soon as anyone brings a caravan (including a motorhome/motor caravan/camper van ‡) onto a piece of land for the purpose of human habitation (rather than simply parking or storage) the land becomes a caravan site. It doesn't matter what the usual use of the land is (e.g. drive/garden, pub car park, farmyard, field). Neither does it matter what description (e.g. stopover, nightstop) is applied to the land; by virtue of S1(4) of the Act it is a caravan site as far as the law is concerned.
* The dictionary definition of Habitation is the activity of living somewhere. Thus, habitation includes all forms of such activity.
‡ The case of Backer v Secretary of State for the Environment and Wealden District Council (1983) established that a motorhome falls within the definition of a caravan in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and the Caravan Sites Act 1968 as amended.

The Act prohibits use of land as a caravan site unless an appropriate licence is held or one of the conditions in the First Schedule to the Act is met. As far as motorhomes are concerned it is paragraphs 1 to 6 and paragraph 11 of the First Schedule which are important.

Paragraph 1 allows a householder to use his land as a caravan site provided that use “is incidental to the enjoyment as such of a dwellinghouse within the curtilage of which the land is situated”. So, if visiting (genuine) friends or relatives sleep in their motorhome rather than in the house it is perfectly legal. Incidental enjoyment does not, though, extend to a contractual/membership relationship with an organisation aimed at providing overnight stops for other members of that organisation.

Paragraph 2 allows use of land as a caravan site by someone travelling in a caravan as long as three conditions are met:
a) the stay is for no more than two nights
b) no more than one caravan being used for human habitation is on the land at the time
c) the land is not used for human habitation in caravans for more than 28 days in any 12 month period.
So, a pub landlord or farmer (for instance) can perfectly legally allow people in motorhomes to stay overnight occasionally but breaks the law if there is more than one motorhome in use at any one time and/or a stay exceeds 2 nights and/or such use is allowed for more than 28 days in any 12 month period.

Paragraph 3 is similar to Paragraph 2 but applies to land of 5 acres or more which has not been built on. The 28 day maximum is the same but the maximum number of caravans allowed at any one time is increased from one to three.

Exempted Organisations are organisations which are formally constituted include the encouragement and promotion of recreational activities among their objectives. Certificates are issued to exempted organisations by Natural England, the Scottish Executive, and the National Assembly for Wales, as appropriate. See Here for details.

Paragraphs 4 and 6 deal with the rights of exempted organisations to use land as a caravan site directly. These are the provisions which enable exempted organisations to run their own sites and to hold rallies &c.

Paragraph 5 allows exempted organisations to issue certificates to approved occupiers of land. Where a certificate is in place:
a) use is restricted to members of the exempted organisation concerned
b) no more than 5 caravans can be on site at any one time.
Obtaining a certificate from an exempted organisation eases compliance with the law for people like pub landlords and farmers.

The exemption provided by Paragraph 11 of the First Schedule applies solely to local authorities. It allows them to use land which they occupy in their own area as a caravan site without needing to award themselves a licence or to obtain an exemption certificate. This does not mean that local authorities are not bound by the Act, just that they have a special examption which they may use if so minded.

Planning Consent. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 specifies that, other than those cases where one of the exemptions in Paragraphs 2 to 10 of the First Schedule applies, the land must also have planning consent for use as a caravan site. Details will normally be found on the web sites of local authorities. Obviously, as this does not include Paragraph 11 of the First Schedule, local authorities using that exemption are required to obtain planning consent for the land to be used unless that is already covered by existing consent.

Return to the Off Site Camping page.

Last updated: 1 August 2018
© - see copyright notice on home page