The UK currently has no network of officially recognised places where motorhomes and campervans can stay overnight, other than formal campsites or the simpler CS/CL 5 van sites which are approved by some clubs for the use of their members. This is in stark contrast to other countries in Europe where there are quite extensive networks of stopovers.
So, in the UK it is necessary for stopovers to be set up an on ad hoc basis, if you want to provide facilities for motorhomes and campervans to stop over on your land you will need to know how to go about it.
We are always looking for approved stopover sites to add to our stopover listings, however we do try to keep our listing to approved sites only, as there are certain regulations (site licences and planning consent) for places that want to allow more than the occasional motorhome or caravan to stay overnight. See below for a resume of the legislation regarding Stopovers.
If you already accept motorhomes on an unofficial basis, and want to be added to our listing please read on!
Current legislation in the form of The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 ('the 1960 Act') requires, apart from the exemptions detailed below, that anyone accepting motorhomes and campervans to stay on their land must have a site licence and planning permission from the local authority.
As noted in our resume of the legislation below, some exemptions to the regulations are allowed, you have probably seen pubs in our listing which are part of the Nightstop Scheme, these have been granted an Exemption Certificate which allows them to accept up to 5 motorhomes at any time. The Nightstop Scheme is not restricted to pubs alone, sports grounds and social clubs, etc. can apply too. There are no special requirements, providing that you have enough space for a few motorhomes to park of course! It is usual, but not essential, for there to be access to an outside tap for fresh water and also somewhere to empty chemical toilets. You can contact them to request an application form: email@example.com or apply direct to the Motor Caravanners' Club: https://themotorcaravannersclub.co.uk/be_one_of_our_cl_or_ns_sites.php
The online forum MotorhomeFun is also able to issue Exemption Certificates and does not restrict use of the sites to members only, applications can be made here. This is most suitable for locations where there is space for camping-type activities i.e. putting out tables & chairs, awnings, etc.
It has also created a special category of Exempted site for locations meeting the CAMpRA definition of an Aire, which includes the requirements that only motorcaravans with onboard facilities will be allowed to use the sites and NO CAMPING BEHAVIOUR IS ALLOWED (i.e. nothing to be placed outside the vehicle). This would be most suitable for, for example, business that want to allow overnight stays for campervans and motorhomes on their normal parking areas. Applications for an Aire-type exempted site can be made here.
Other organisations can issue Exemption Certificates but most of them restrict the use of their approved locations to their own members. The whole point of motorhome stopovers or Aires is that they should be open to all.
Having an Exemption Certificate means that there is no need for a site licence and planning permission to be granted by the local authority, anyone operating a stopover site without an Exemption Certificate, or local authority approval, may find themselves in trouble with their local authority for operating a 'caravan site' without the proper consents.
It is our opinion that getting an Exemption Certificate issued by either of the above schemes is currently the best way of setting up a stopover for motorhomes on privately owned land.
For local authority controlled land there is no need for an Exemption Certificate as this land is exempted from the legislation already. All that's needed is for the local authority to give permission for motorhomes to stay overnight, without imposing restrictions on eating, sleeping, cooking, etc. In some cases planning consent may be required.
It is certainly possible for private landowners to set up a stopover for motorhomes without applying for an Exemption Certificate, in this case it is necessary to apply for a site licence and planning consent from the local authority. You would need to comply with their requirements, with luck they may be sympathetic to your plans! One advantage of taking this route is that, depending on the size of the land you have available, it might be possible to accommodate more than 5 motorhomes at any one time.
Of course it may be that you already have an Exemption Certificate, or are otherwise licenced, in which case please let us know the details! If not, and you apply to the Nightstop Scheme, please let us know how you get on and as soon as you get approved we'll add you to our listing.
Legislation regarding Stopovers and the 'parking, not camping' myth
It is argued by some that so called 'campsite legislation' does not apply if you are just parking your motorhome or campervan to sleep in, and not putting anything outside. Unfortunately this is not the case.
In law, at least as regards the places where they may be stationed for the purposes of human habitation, motorhomes, campervans, and in fact all vehicles with living facilities, are included within the definition of a 'caravan' . The 1960 Act states that a caravan is defined as:
" ... any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted ..."
The 1960 Act introduced the licencing of caravan sites, and defines a 'caravan site' as " ... land on which a caravan is stationed for the purposes of human habitation and land which is used in conjunction with land on which a caravan is so stationed." Certain exemptions are allowed from the licencing requirements of the Act, these are detailed in Schedule 1 of the Act and include:
" ... the use of land as a caravan site if the use is incidental to the enjoyment as such of a dwellinghouse within the curtilage of which the land is situated."
Meaning that, for example, you may occupy a caravan situated in your garden.
" ... the use of land as a caravan site by a person travelling with a caravan who brings the caravan on to the land for a period which includes not more than two nights—
if during that period no other caravan is stationed for the purposes of human habitation on that land or any adjoining land in the same occupation, and
if, in the period of twelve months ending with the day on which the caravan is brought on to the land, the number of days on which a caravan was stationed anywhere on that land or the said adjoining land for the purposes of human habitation did not exceed twenty-eight. "
This is the exemption which permits pubs, for example, to allow a motorhome to stay overnight on their car park. However only one motorhome is permitted at any one time and the landowner can only permit his land to be used for a maximum of 28 days in any period of 12 months. It does not, of course, give a right to station a caravan on any land, it simply means that the landowner does not need a caravan site licence. There may also be other, local, restrictions in force which prevent landowners permitting the stationing of a caravan on their land.
" ... land as respects which there is in force a certificate issued under this paragraph by an exempted organisation if not more than five caravans are at the time stationed for the purposes of human habitation on the land to which the certificate relates.
(2) For the purposes of this paragraph an exempted organisation may issue as respects any land a certificate stating that the land has been approved by the exempted organisation for use by its members for the purposes of recreation."
This allows 'Exempted Organisations' such as The Caravan & Motorhome Club, The Camping and Caravanning Club, The Motor Caravanners' Club, and MotorhomeFun, to set up CL (Certificated Location) and CS (Certificated Site) sites for use by their members. Whether the use of the sites is restricted to members only is up to the individual clubs to decide. Most large clubs do not allow non-members to use their Exempted Sites.
" ... land occupied by the local authority in whose area the land is situated."
This is the most interesting exemption as far as the setting up of Stopovers is concerned, it allows local authorities to permit motorhomes to stay overnight on, for example, car parks or other land in their control.
The full text of The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 is here .