Rules on temporary campsites and solar canopies – the NFU responds

An image of young boy running across a field with a tent in the background

Photo: iStock

Following a consultation on permitted development rights for temporary campsites, filmmaking and solar canopies during February, the government has announced that it is expanding permitted development rights for temporary campsites. 

Farmers and landowners will benefit from a doubling in the length of time they can host popup campsites without having to apply for planning permission, following a government consultation aimed at boosting rural tourism.

The move, capped at 50 tents and requiring some facilities, would echo a temporary dispensation introduced in 2020 and 2021 to help countryside businesses recover from the pandemic. 

The consultation will also looked into how limitations could be amended to help support the use of solar power. 

This includes a proposed new PD right for solar canopies which would allow for canopies up to 4 metres high in ground-level off-street vehicle parking in non-domestic settings. 

10 July 2023

Government announces rule change on temporary campsites

The government has announced it is expanding permitted development rights for temporary campsites in England as well as making changes to existing rights for filming.

The new rights are due to come into force on 26 July 2023 and will allow farmers to host temporary campsites for up to 60 calendar days of the year, up from a previous limit of 28 days.

Read more:

24 April 2023

Consultation closed

This consultation closed on 25 April 2023.

23 April 2023

The NFU responded

Temporary campsites

The NFU responded to the consultation by saying that there should be an increase in the number of pitches made available under permitted development and the length of time that applicants are allowed to operate them without planning permission.

Though in support of the proposals, the NFU sought to keep protected landscapes and areas from the newly permitted development rights. The government has stated that protected areas will not benefit from the new right, such as SSSIs (sites of special scientific interests) and historic assets, as unrestricted recreational campsites could harm other operations on neighbouring fields or damage assets that are seen as important by communities and local people.

The NFU did not comment on the inclusion or exclusion of caravans from the new permitted development right. The government have decided to exclude caravans from the new right to protect visual impacts and to reduce the potential increase in road congestion.

The NFU also commented that any new permitted development expansion should include more than the placing of just tents. The government has announced that moveable toilets, campervans, and motorhomes will also be allowed under the new permitted development right.

The NFU sought the maximum consulted-on period of 60 days per calendar year, which has now been included in the new permitted development right. The NFU sought this as it allows the maximum economic benefit to be realised by the new permitted development right.

The NFU had previously stated that a maximum of 30 pitches was the preferred option to minimise negatives from the new permitted development right, especially visually. The government has announced an increase to 50 pitches, which will offer a high amount of economic benefit, but may lead to the spoiling of some landscapes. Local authorities will put Article 4 Directions (designations to remove permitted development rights) where they see a threat from the new permitted development right.

Overall the NFU was highly supportive of the proposals, which have now been set in legislation and policy and will enable landowners to properly utilise their land and diversify their operations. An important factor in supporting farmers in an ever-difficult landscape.

Solar power

Overall, the NFU welcomes the proposed amending of limitations on Permitted Development to support the use of solar power in both domestic and non-domestic settings, especially the proposed new Permitted Development right for solar canopies up to 4m high, for off-street covered vehicle parking in non-domestic settings such as farmyard hard standing.

We believe the urgency of action on climate change necessitates the removal of existing barriers under the majority of circumstances where appropriate mitigation measures would result in a less than significant impact on the surrounding area.

We will inform NFU members as soon the proposed changes come into force (the Government will make changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended, when parliamentary time allows.

28 March 2023

NFU call for evidence

The NFU will be submitting a response on behalf of members, focusing on both the changes to temporary campsite rules and the new and existing PD rights for solar canopies and equipment.

NFU Chief Renewable Energy and Climate Change adviser, Jonathan Scurlock highlighted that whilst the proposals for PD rights for rooftop solar are already generous, “the new PD right for non-domestic solar canopies could allow members to make good use of yard space, supporting future needs for electric vehicle charging”. 

The NFU has sounded a note of caution in response to the proposals on temporary campsites.

Chief Land Management Adviser Sam Durham said: “While measures to help the rural economy capitalise on its potential are to be applauded, the proposals need to be considered in the wider context of competition for agricultural land use.

“There is also a potential clash with eligibility for future agri-environment schemes and BPS, and a possible risk of losing agricultural land status through material land use change, which is difficult to reverse once lost.

“All of that would need to be factored into decisions, should these proposals be adopted.”

NFU members can read the NFU's draft response in full: NFU draft response | Permitted Development Rights for campsites and renewable energy

You can also respond directly to the consultation via the government's web page at: GOV.UK | Permitted Development Rights

28 February 2023

Government launches consultation

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities launched a consultation proposing changes to existing PD rights for temporary campsites and solar equipment as well as a new PD right for the development of solar canopies.

Read the consultation in full at: GOV.UK | Permitted Development Rights

This page was first published on 28 March 2023. It was updated on 19 July 2023.

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  • 28 February – The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities launches its consultation into PD rights for temporary campsites, renewable energy and film-making.
  • 28 March – The NFU launches a call for evidence from members who could be affected to form part of its response to the consultation
  • 23 April – The NFU responds to the consultation
  • 10 July – New extension announced