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Will a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence Work for My Glamping Site?

Will a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence Work for My Glamping Site?

Will a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence Work for My Glamping Site? - Foreword from Calum

"I don't often write articles myself anymore as we have a great team at Glampitect that typically does this work now.

However, I personally have become increasingly aware of and concerned with the large amount of worried people we have coming to us looking for help with retrospective planning applications. This is now a weekly, if not daily occurrence.

Today with this article, I am looking to help anyone considering a camping club exemption licence for their glamping site. There are pros and cons that we will explore.

For those of you that have a licence that has gone wrong and you have been served with an enforcement notice, I will be writing a follow up article in the coming days."

Let's get into it: Will a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence Work for My Glamping Site?

Camping club planning exemption licences or exemption certificates have become a lot more common for glamping sites in recent times. They started with standard camping sites many years ago and made their way into the low cost glamping space (low quality yurts, bell tents etc) in more recent times.

A camping club exemption licence essentially allows you to set up your glamping site without the need for full glamping planning permission. Sounds great, right? If only it was as simple as that. We will get into the details of the pros and cons now:

What is a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence for Glamping?

Two Glamping Pods

A Planning Exemption Licence, also known as a Certificate of Lawfulness or Permitted Development Rights, is a regulatory instrument that offers specific allowances within the framework of established planning regulations. These allowances are typically intended for developments or activities that are considered to have a minimal impact or temporary nature. The key feature of such licences is that they come with predefined criteria that must be met in order to qualify.

These licences serve a purpose of simplifying processes for certain projects, providing a more streamlined route for individuals and businesses. While not a carte blanche to bypass regulations, they offer a controlled way to engage in activities that might not fit neatly within traditional planning guidelines.

However, it's important to note that these licences operate within limits. They provide a degree of flexibility but remain subject to specific conditions. Regulatory authorities ensure that any development, including glamping structures, adheres to responsible and sustainable practices, preventing haphazard or inappropriate growth. In the context of glamping, they are always limited to a maximum of 5 units.

In summary, a Planning Exemption Licence offers a different route from standard glamping planning permission. One that will likely be more cost effective and quick, however there are a lot of downsides.

Quickfire Q&A on Camping Club Planning Exemption Licences for Glamping

How much does a planning exemption licence from a club cost?

There is a lot of variables between providers so we will provide a range. Typically there are two costs, a setup fee and an annual renewal fee.

Setup Fee: £500-1000
Annual Fee: £300-500

How long does it take to get a caravan club planning exemption licence?

Again there is a variety of answers so we will give a range, typically between 1 month and 6 months.

Do all our  visitors need to be part of the club we have joined?


Does having a licence mean that I definitely don't need planning?

No, unfortunately we have a lot of people come to us after having a licence and planning sending an enforcement notice that they need to take down their site. This leads to a lot of retrospective planning applications that we complete.

How many pods or yurts can I have on my site?

Up to 5.

Do all our  visitors need to be part of the club we have joined?


Can the units be permanent or do they need to be temporary?

All units on a licensed site need to be temporary.

What defines temporary?

If asked by the club, you must be able to remove all units and return the site to the condition it was in before the license was granted within 1 day.

How long does the caravan club planning exemption license last?

They are typically 1 year long.

What happens at the end of the year?

You can pay to renew for another year.

Can you definitely renew without issue?

No, if there have been neighbour complaints or planning issues your license will not be renewed.

What happens if the license isn't renewed?

You either need to fully remove the site and put it back to its previous state before the end of your license or complete a retrospective planning application. Not doing either of these will mean you are operating illegally.

Situations Clients have Explained to Glampitect About Exemption Licenses

NC500 Pods

At Glampitect we typically speak to over 500 potential and existing glamping site owners a week. We have spoken about everything there is to speak about when it comes to setting up and operating a glamping site.

There have been a growing amount of calls from people that have had a caravan club glamping planning exemption licence go wrong. These conversations were the unfortunate motivation behind writing this article.

Here we will share some of the situations, of course leaving out any personal details.

Court Battle

Someone with an exemption licence came to us a little too late. They had received a planning enforcement notice and were told to ignore it. They subsequently received a court summons.

During the court proceedings, they lost and were ordered to immediately remove the site and restore the land back to the way it was before. They were also fined. 

Hand Written Exemption License

Someone came to us having spent 6 months chasing up their exemption license and during the process became increasingly concerned about the whole process.

When they finally received their licence it was hand written. They immediately panicked and came to us to help sort things out.

They decided the license wasn't worth the paper it was written on (literally) and moved to completing a retrospective glamping planning application. 

Getting a Licence Revoked After Opening

Someone came to us again whilst already open like everyone we have mentioned so far. They had actually received their licence before opening and subsequently opened. After a couple of neighbours complained to the club they were associated with, the license got revoked.

They came to us to see if we could fix the situation.

Many More

Unfortunately, this is only 3 of the 100s of conversations we have had about the good, the bad and ugly of planning exemption certificates.

In the next section we will use some more of these situations to detail the pros and cons of a planning exemption license for glamping.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence for Glamping?

A lot of the pros of a camping club planning exemption licence have been mentioned already and we will start to introduce some of cons now, as well of re-mentioning the pros of course.

Pros of a Planning Exemption Licence for your glamping site:

  • Low cost short term
  • Typically relatively quick

Cons of a Planning Exemption Licence for your glamping site:

  • Units must be able to be removed and the site returned to its original state on 1 days notice
  • Licence can be revoked at any time
  • Needs renewed annually
  • No guaranteed it will be renewed
  • All visitors need to be a member of your specific club
  • Annual renewal fees
  • Can take months to set up
  • Inconsistent documentation
  • Particularly risky if the investment is large
  • You could end up operating illegally
  • You could be served a planning enforcement notice at any time
  • You could end up in court
  • You cannot finance units as you need to prove to the financier that you have planning approval

What are the Alternatives to a Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence?

Pitilie Pod Interior

If you are yet to start the process of setting up your glamping site, it is likely the best route to go down is official glamping planning permission. You can read all about planning permission for glamping sites by clicking the link.

If, like many, you have started down the road of a planning exemption license it may be a little more complicated, however we will detail out what to do in the next section.


What do I do if I've Been Served a Planning Enforcement Notice After Setting Up My Glamping Site with an Exemption Licence?

Unfortunately a lot of people that set up a glamping site with an exemption certificate end up receiving a planning enforcement notice. This typically orders them to dismantle the site and shut down.

There is one option, should this happen to you if you want to stay open. This is to submit a retrospective planning application. 

At Glampitect, we have been dealing with a large number of retrospective planning application for glamping sites in this situation. You can book a call with the Glampitect team using the link below if you are in this situation and would like some help.

We will also be writing an article on retrospective planning for glamping sites that initially had an exemption licence, we will share that soon.



Camping Club Planning Exemption Licence

Interestingly, despite all the downsides to glamping planning exemption licences, there is a situation that they may make sense for some people. If you genuinely fit in the criteria of being able to remove the whole site within a day, why not benefit from the reduced costs and timeline vs planning.

On the other hand, a planning exemption licence is maybe not the most favourable route for many other people. 

There is such a high element of risk on your investment when exemption licences can be revoked or a planning enforcement notice can be served at any point and your site needs immediately removed.

Imagine investing your life savings into a project that you need to close down after one letter that could get sent at any time...

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