Temporary uses of land – campsites and temporary events


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With the tourist season starting early this year, many land owners will be taking advantage of new temporary permitted development rights that allow campsites and other temporary uses without the need for planning permission. The Southwest is experiencing a high demand for accommodation, and new temporary campsites and other temporary events can help to meet some of that demand.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the Government acted rapidly to relax planning rules to adapt to the new world of social distancing. One of the stand out changes to the planning system was the relaxation of permitted development rights relating to the temporary use of land.

Prior to the pandemic, the use of land for any purpose for up to 28 days in a calendar year constituted permitted development and therefore did not require planning consent. However, perhaps recognising the need to allow businesses to adapt and innovate under the Covid-19 restrictions, the Government extended the permitted development right from 28 days to 56. The placing of moveable structures provided on site for the purposes of the temporary use is also permitted. The permitted development rights are due to expire at the end of 2021, but it is possible that the Government may move to make them permanent.  

However, there are some limitations on the new 56 day permitted development rights that land owners and events organisers should be aware of, and if you have a specific project in mind our specialist planning team are on hand to advise. 

Here are some of our top tips if you are planning a temporary campsite:

  • The 56 day permitted development right applies to land and not to buildings. Building is widely defined (for instance it could include paved areas). This generally means only fields or open spaces can benefit from the 56 day permitted development right.
  • You cannot use the 56 day permitted development rights if the land is within the curtilage of a building. So the permitted development right does not extend to the temporary use of gardens, although other temporary permitted development rights may be available for land within the curtilage of a building.
  • You can station temporary toilet facilities and catering structures within the land during the 56 period.
  • Site set up and dismantling must all be carried out within the permitted 56 day period;
  • The use of the land as a caravan site is excluded from the permitted development right. Allowing caravans and camper vans onto the site could potentially require planning consent, and advice should be sought if you propose to allow caravans and campervans.
  • If you plan to sell alcohol at the site you will need to apply for a licence from the local authority.
  • In some areas of the country permitted development rights do not apply. This is typically where the local planning authority has introduced an "article 4 direction" to prohibit certain permitted development rights. You should check that article 4 direction is not in force in your area.
  • You should always check whether any planning permission affecting the land is subject to conditions or obligations that might limit the operation of permitted development rights.
  • You should check the deeds to your property to ensure there are no other legal restrictions on the use of the land (known as restrictive covenants).
  • If you get complaints from the local planning authority, we recommend you get advice from a specialist planning lawyer immediately. Our dedicated team of planning lawyers are able to step in to assist and have experience of resolving such complaints. 

We have been advising a number of clients on temporary events and campsites which utilise the 56 day permitted development rights, so do get in touch if we can assist you in your project.  

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