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Guidance notes for caravan site licenses

Updated October 2020

Do you need to obtain a licence from North Devon Council?

The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 requires that, subject to certain exceptions, no occupier of land shall “cause or permit” any part of their land to be used as a caravan site unless they hold a current site licence in respect of the land.

Site licences may only be issued after the relevant planning permission has been obtained for the site.

Definition of a caravan and caravan site

A caravan is “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”.

Caravan refers to all mobile homes including holiday caravans, residential caravans, touring caravans and camper vans.

A caravan site is “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”.

Issue of site licence

The site licence is usually issued automatically on application, once planning permission has been obtained.

Where you already have planning permission, we must issue the licence within two months of the application. If planning permission is not obtained until later, the licence must be issued within six weeks of the permission being obtained. In each case, the period may be extended by written agreement between you and the local authority.

If you have held a site licence that has been revoked in the last three years, we will not issue you with a new site licence.

Site licence exemptions

You will usually require a camping or caravan site licence and planning permission to use an area as a campsite.

However, there are some exemptions. These exemptions are outlined in a document on our website.

The application process

To apply for a caravan licence, you will need to include the following details with your application:

  • the type of caravan site for which the licence is required – permanent, residential, seasonal or touring
  • the maximum number of caravans that are proposed to be on site at any one time for the purpose of human habitation 
  • a layout plan of the site, to a scale of not less than 1/500, showing the boundaries of the site, the positions of caravan standings, and, where appropriate, the positions of roads and footpaths, toilet blocks, stores and other buildings, food and surface water drainage, water supply, recreation space and parking spaces
  • evidence of the right to occupy the site (land registry deed/lease)
  • details of the arrangements for refuse disposal and for sewage and waste water disposal
  • a copy of your planning permission or certificate of lawfulness for the proposed activity
  • a copy of electrical test certificates
  • a copy of gas safety/LPG certificates (where applicable)
  • a copy of fire safety certificates
  • a copy of valid public liability insurance for the site
  • a copy of the management structure and financial standing information are required for residential site applications

Tacit consent

We will acknowledge your application on receipt. In the unlikely event you have not heard anything from us at the end of the processing timescale, as detailed above, tacit consent does not apply and your application is not deemed granted. Please contact us in this situation.

Duration of the site licence

There is no general expiry date for a site licence. However, if the relevant planning permission is for a limited period, the site licence must expire at the same time as the planning permission.

Transfer of the site licence

As the existing site licence holder, if you no longer occupy the land, you may, with the local authority’s consent, transfer the licence to the person who becomes the new land occupier.

What conditions will be attached to a site licence?

As the local authority, we can determine what conditions ought to be attached to the site licence, including the space to be kept between units and the securing of sanitary conditions. The law also highlights specific conditions that may be imposed. These include:

  • Restricting the occasions on which caravans are to be stationed, or the total number of caravans to be stationed at any time
  • Controlling the types of caravans on site
  • Regulating the positions in which caravans are to be stationed and for regulating or prohibiting the placing of structures or vehicles on the land
  • Ensuring that amenities are preserved, including the planting and replanting with trees and bushes

Appeal against conditions

If you want to appeal against conditions attached to a site licence, this must be made to the magistrate’s court within 28 days of the licence being issued.

Alteration of conditions

The local authority may, at any time, alter conditions by varying or cancelling them, as well as adding new conditions. Before doing so, the authority will give you, as the licence holder, an opportunity to make representations. No alteration becomes effective until you have received written notification.

Offences and penalties

It is an offence if you fail to comply with any conditions attached to your licence. If a breach of a condition under a site licence has occurred, the local authority can instigate proceedings in the magistrate’s court or the Property Tribunal. If you continue to break conditions of the licence, after having been convicted of breaching site licence conditions on three or more occasions, we may apply to the court or tribunal to have your licence revoked. If your licence is revoked, another licence will not be issued to you for at least three years.

Rights of entry

Authorised council officers may enter at all reasonable hours (after having given 24 hours’ notice) land that is used as a caravan site, or where an application for a site licence has been made.


North Devon Council holds a caravan site licence register. The register contains details of those sites licensed with the Council. The register can be found on our website.


If you want to make a complaint regarding a caravan site, licensed by North Devon Council, please contact us. If you feel we have failed to provide you with good service or are concerned about the progress of your application, please telephone Customer Services on 01271 327711. The council also has a formal complaints procedure.

Further information

Copies of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 can be purchased from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office or downloaded on line at no cost. More information about caravan site legislation and model standards can be found on