English and Scottish campsites given go ahead to open all year
The Westminster Government has given the green light for an extension to the open season for campsites and holiday parks through the coming winter.
While some campsites are already permitted to open all year, many are not and, if they wish to stay open for longer, they are required to have permission from their local planning authority.
However, the Government has now published guidance to local authorities telling them that they should consider the benefits of longer opening season times for a temporary period to the local economy as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19.
It also went onto say that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should “act proportionately” in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.
“Given the current situation, while local planning authorities must have regard to their legal obligations, they should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan, campsite and holiday parks to extend their open season,” said the Government in a statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
The Scottish Government is understood to have issued a similar directive after the Scottish Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, was reported as urging Scottish local authorities to "recognise the benefits of enabling seasonal businesses such as holiday parks to continue to operate beyond any conditioned limits to their season."
The news has been welcomed by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, which had lobbied for the move. The BH&HPA’s Director General, Ros Pritchard OBE, said the lifeline was a step in the right direction to helping prevent wide-scale job cuts and business failures in the sector.
"More than a third of all holiday parks and campsites are required by their planning consent to shut up shop in October – and it's a moment most of them are dreading," she said.
"After being closed from March until July, they have missed out on months of prime trading time, including bank holidays and half-terms. This simply isn't sustainable for seasonally dependent businesses, and especially the hundreds of smaller family-run parks that make up our membership. At present, only a quarter of holiday parks and campsites are allowed to remain open all year – and many of the rest will be pinning their survival hopes on keeping going over winter."