The Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act 1960 establishes a licensing requirement for caravan parks which runs in parallel with – but is separate from – the town planning process. You cannot lawfully operate a Park Home Estate without both a planning permission and a site licence.
In some respects the two means of control overlap, but the fundamental distinction is that planning deals with whether or not the use of land for the purpose of a caravan site is acceptable – having regard to material planning considerations – whilst the licensing system imposes a wide range of developmental and operation controls over the layout and format of the site and its day to day management and operation.
These licensing requirements are set out by the Secretary of State in Model Standards which “.. represent those standards normally to be expected as a matter of good practice on caravan sites. They should be applied with due regard to the particular circumstances of the relevant site, including its physical character, any relevant services, facilities or other amenities that are available within or in the locality of the site and other applicable conditions”. These are guides which can be varied by the authority, depending upon individual circumstances, but cannot be varied away from the Model Standards to a point where they are considered ‘unduly burdensome’.
The planning consent cannot fetter the implementation of licence conditions. Equally site licence conditions cannot be used to impose constraints upon or vary the planning permission. Compliance with site licence conditions in mandatory and failure to comply with the condition of a site licence is an offence and liable to prosecution. Development that is required by the site licence has permitted development rights by virtue of Schedule 2 Part 5 Class B of the GPDO. The various Model Standard conditions define everything from the required density, form of layout, spacing requirements, dimension of site roads etc through to fire safety, electrical wiring, gas compounds, litter etc. There are distinct standards for Park Home
Therefore to operate a caravan park you need planning permission for the use of land as a caravan site and then a site licence issued by the Environmental Health Department, which establishes the form of the development within that permitted area. The planning permission can limit the mode and period of use of the land, whilst the site licence will be issued commensurate with the most appropriate Model Standards for the particular type of caravan site consented.
Whereas the Council can enforce against any breach of planning control under the provisions of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), they can also take a Park Operator directly to Court for breach of Site Licence conditions. This dual means of control is very effective in delivering and maintaining appropriate standards and park operation for the benefit of park residents.