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Caravan sites

All residential and non-residential caravan sites will need planning permission and a site licence.

In addition to planning permission, a site licence is required which sets out the standards for site layout, access, services and safety requirements. Licences are issued to campsites with standard conditions relating to the following:

  • density of the site
  • spacing between caravans
  • drinking water
  • waste water disposal
  • water supplies
  • toilets and chemical waste disposal arrangements
  • washing facilities and drainage sanitation
  • showers
  • refuse disposal
  • parking arrangements
  • site notices
  • fire safety
  • roads and footpaths
  • hard standings
  • telephones on site
  • liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage
  • electrical installations
  • recreational space

Certain sites may be exempt from these requirements if they are infrequently used or controlled by an exempted organisation such as the Caravan Club.

There are many caravan and camping sites in Dorset and they fall into a number of categories:

Tented camp sites

All tented sites which operate for more than 42 consecutive days or for more than 60 days in total in any 12 consecutive months must be licensed by a local authority under Section 269 of the Public Health Act 1936. In addition planning permission is required for any site where tented camping occurs for more than 28 days per year.

Specified recreational organisations can obtain an exemption certificate from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which will allow them to camp on land without a site licence or planning permission. An exemption certificate is valid for 5 years and is issued subject to strict criteria. Relevant organisations are listed on the  DEFRA (opens in a new window) website.

Permanent holiday caravan sites

Caravan sites with permanently sited caravans which are let to holiday makers are licensed by your council under Section 3 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Such sites must have planning permission before they are issued with a licence.

Touring caravan sites

All touring caravan sites which operate for more than 42 consecutive days or for more than 60 days in total in any 12 consecutive months must be licensed by your local council under Section 3 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.  In addition planning permission is required for any site which is occupied for more than 28 days per year.

Permanent residential caravan sites (mobile home sites)

Caravan sites with permanently sited caravans (Park Homes) which are occupied all year around are licensed by your local council under Section 3 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development 1960, as amended by the Mobile Homes Act 2013. Such sites must have planning permission before they are issued with a licence. Permanent residential caravan sites are the only category for which a fee may be charged. The charges are set by each council.

Christchurch and East Dorset

North Dorset

Purbeck

West Dorset

Weymouth

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