The next big diversification opportunity.

Entrepreneurial farmers looking for the next opportunity to diversify their business and generate some much-needed additional income may be interested to note the latest relaxation of the planning laws regarding temporary campsites.

Planning permission is usually required if you want to change the use of land. However, that requirement does not apply if the landowner can rely upon permitted development rights. Those rights are set out in the snappily titled Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. Also known as the GPDO.

A recent change to the GPDO allows landowners temporarily to change the use of land to use as a recreational campsite for not more than 60 days in total in any calendar year. There is an upper limit of 50 pitches, and only tents, camper vans and motor homes are allowed. The rights also authorise the installation of “any moveable structure reasonably necessary for the purposes of the permitted use” – which would include toilet blocks, showers and bin stores.

It is important to note that there are some circumstances where these permitted development rights do not apply, in particular where the land is either:

  • on a site of a scheduled monument
  • in a safety hazard area
  • in a military explosives storage area
  • on a site of special scientific interest
  • on a site of a listed building.

It is also important to be aware that if the site is on land within Flood Zone 2 or Flood Zone 3, it will be necessary to apply to the council for prior approval before beginning development and to send in a site-specific flood risk assessment which deals warning and evacuation.

In order to use these rights the landowner will need to ensure that they also provide toilet and waste disposal facilities. They also must write to the council in advance and provide a site plan together with details of the toilet and waste disposal facilities being made available and the dates on which the site will be in use.

There has been a huge boom in camping as people look for cheaper holiday alternatives to help ease the cost-of-living crisis. As a result, these extended permitted development rights may prove to be extremely useful in generating a new revenue stream. But it is important to plan early if you want to catch the summer season, particularly if prior approval is required as that is usually a 56-day process.

Happy camping!

Lee May is a partner in Brachers’ Commercial property team and specialises in planning law.