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Tourism in England: Temporary Campsite Capacity

Volume 698: debated on Monday 28 June 2021

As England opens up and more Britons seek to go on holiday there over the summer, the Government want to support domestic tourism. To do this, we will encourage greater temporary campsite capacity over the summer through updated guidance.

Last year the Government introduced a temporary permitted development right which allows for the temporary use of land as a commercial campsite for up to 56 days, without the need to apply for planning permission. This allows businesses across the tourism and hospitality sectors to establish temporary “pop-up” campsites on their land to meet additional demand. We would like to see more of these businesses taking advantage of this opportunity over the summer, so we will encourage local planning authorities to take a flexible and proportionate approach to the enforcement of planning controls, including restrictions through planning conditions on existing campsites, which may limit the temporary extension of commercial campsites for leisure use over this holiday season. This builds on my previous statement made to the House on 14 July 2020.

Paragraph 58 of the national planning policy framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

The purpose of this written ministerial statement, which comes into effect immediately, is therefore to make clear that, in considering the exercise of their discretion over enforcement, local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with commercial campsites for leisure use to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to local tourism and hospitality’s economic recovery.

In particular, unless legal obligations dictate otherwise, local authorities should not seek to undertake enforcement action against potential breaches of planning control in relation to temporary commercial campsites for leisure use which do not have an adverse impact on amenity, public health and safety or the environment.

This statement does not apply to other forms of campsites, including those for domestic use, and this statement does not stop local authorities taking appropriate action where there are significant adverse impacts on amenity, public health and safety or the environment. This position should not stop enforcement action against unauthorised encampments (such as tents or caravans) on land which the occupiers do not have permission of the landowner to camp upon, nor for non-commercial activity such as a personal dwelling.

Furthermore, this statement does not remove the legal requirement for campsite licenses under section 269 of the Public Health Act 1936. The Government will work with local authorities to facilitate a quick licensing process this summer, and authorities are encouraged to expedite new applications for licences to provide certainty for applicants.

This written ministerial statement only covers England and expires on 31 October 2021.