The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 provides an exemption for temporary 'pop-up' campsites, which allows the use of land as a camping site for up to 28 days a year without the need for planning permission. This 'permitted development right' was extended by Government to 56 days last year and has been similarly extended for this year as a means of assisting the hospitality sector during the pandemic.
Issues affecting the District include wider recreational disturbance and impacts on the designated sites and the need for new development to achieve 'Nutrient Neutrality' (nitrates and phosphates). In both cases any new development either granted consent by the usual planning application route, or by virtue of national 'permitted development rights must comply with the requirements of the Habitat Regulations.
The Habitats Regulations set out the process that any development coming forward under the General Permitted Development Order needs to follow to ensure compliance with these Regulations. It is a condition of any permitted development right that development which is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site cannot commence without the prior approval of the local planning authority (Regulations 75 and 77), which can only be given where the local planning authority has ascertained that development will not adversely affect the integrity of a protected site. Given the range and scale of internationally protected nature conservation sites in the New Forest and its coastline, these legal considerations are particularly important.
Like applicants for new residential development or other forms of visitor accommodation, landowners of campsites would also need to demonstrate effective mitigation for either nitrates entering the Solent designated sites catchment, or phosphates entering the River Avon catchment. The requirement for nutrient neutrality in new development applies across the whole of the District and landowners can prepare a site-specific 'nutrient budget' setting out how the nutrients arising from the pop up camp sites will be managed. Options include on- and off-site mitigation measures, proportionate to the scale of the development (and associated impacts) proposed.
In the absence of being able to satisfy these requirements, the campsite use would no longer benefit from permitted development rights and would require planning permission. As part of the consideration of a planning application the matter of phosphates or nitrates would need to be addressed, recreational pressure can be addressed through contributions.