Toggle menu

Pop up campsites in the forest

From the 26 July 2023 the regulations for temporary recreational campsites or 'pop up' camping sites changed with the introduction of new permitted development rights under Class BC of Part 4 of Schedule 2 to the Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

This means operators can continue to use land for up to 28 days as a campsite (tents only but no restriction on pitch numbers) under Class B without planning permission - this right applies until 25 July 2024.  After 25 July 2024 Class B changes to preclude the use of land for camping, except when in connection with a festival.

The new Class BC rights also allow you to use your land for up to 60 days in any calendar year as a campsite for camping with tents (and campervans in certain circumstances, but not for caravans) for no more than 50 pitches. To make use of the new Class BC rights you must notify us in writing first in accordance with the procedures set out within the legislation. You may also need a site licence.

From 25 July 2024 all temporary camping sites operating under Class BC permitted development for up to 60 days per calendar year will be required to notify us as the local planning authority in advance in writing before starting development in each calendar year.  You must provide a copy of a site plan which includes details of:

  • toilet and waste disposal facilities
  • the dates on which the site will be in use

You may also need a site licence. 

If your site is within Environment Agency flood zones 2 and/or 3, you will need to submit an application for prior approval and receive confirmation of approval before using the land. This can take up to 56 days. 

All the rights are subject to limitations and conditions.

To be lawful under the Class BC permitted development rights, the temporary use of the land as a recreational campsite must not begin before either -

(a) the receipt by the developer (site operator) from the local planning authority of a written notice giving their prior approval; or

(b) the expiry of 56 days following the date on which the application was received by the local planning authority without the authority notifying the applicant as to whether prior approval is given or refused.

See also the section below on complying with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

Caravans and motorhomes

Caravans and motorhomes are subject to different rules.

You can only site a caravan under permitted development rights if an exception applies. You can find about about the law by reading Schedule 1 of the Caravan Site and Control of Development Act 1960.  You will need planning permission to use your land for caravans for camping in most cases. The only exception set out within the Class BC legislation is 'the siting of a caravan which is used as a motor vehicle designed or adapted for human habitation' (BC.1(f)).


Exempted organisations

Certain permitted development rights apply for exempted organisations and members of certain recreational organisations. These are set out within Part 5 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.


Facilities and structures for temporary campsites

Permitted development rights do not allow any permanent works or operations. Necessary facilities such as temporary toilets may be needed. Each day the facilities are on your land will count towards the 28 day limit even if the site is unoccupied.

The permitted development rights do not include any rules about supplying facilities - therefore operators should ensure that their site follows all relevant laws.


Complying with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017

Issues affecting the District include wider recreational disturbance and impacts on the designated sites and the need for new development to achieve 'Nutrient Neutrality' (nitrates and phosphates). In both cases any new development either granted consent by the usual planning application route, or by virtue of national 'permitted development rights must comply with the requirements of the Habitat Regulations

The Habitats Regulations set out the process that any development coming forward under the General Permitted Development Order needs to follow to ensure compliance with these Regulations. It is a condition of any permitted development right that development which is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site cannot commence without the prior approval of the local planning authority (Regulations 75 and 77), which can only be given where the local planning authority has ascertained that development will not adversely affect the integrity of a protected site. Given the range and scale of internationally protected nature conservation sites in the New Forest and its coastline, these legal considerations are particularly important.

It is important to note, without Regulation 77 approval from the local planning authority (in advance), permitted development rights for temporary camp sites within the NFDC area do not exist:

Like applicants for new residential development or other forms of visitor accommodation, landowners of campsites would also need to demonstrate effective mitigation for either nitrates entering the Solent designated sites catchment, or phosphates entering the River Avon catchment. The requirement for nutrient neutrality in new development applies across the whole of the District and landowners can prepare a site-specific 'nutrient budget' setting out how the nutrients arising from the pop up camp sites will be managed. Options include on- and off-site mitigation measures, proportionate to the scale of the development (and associated impacts) proposed.     For example off-site measures would be that waste can be tankered to Treatments Works outside the Solent / River Avon catchment areas (the land owner must have a contract with a registered waste carrier and the specific Treatment Works must be specified in the Unilateral Undertaking).   

In the absence of being able to satisfy these requirements, the campsite use would no longer benefit from permitted development rights and would require planning permission. As part of the consideration of a planning application the matter of phosphates or nitrates would need to be addressed, recreational pressure can be addressed through contributions. 

You may wish to use a unilateral undertaking prepared by the Council which sets out an annual financial contribution and a requirement for waste to be taken offsite. 

Please note that the owner stated in the Unilateral Undertaking must be the owner of the "Land" as registered on the title deed with the Land Registry.

The UU must be submitted to us together with:

  • a red line plan
  • your financial contribution
  • an initial checking fee of £75. 

Please do not amend the text of the main agreement and please send in a draft unsigned version for checking first.

Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email