Operating a Caravan Park

The following information aims to increase general awareness of laws controlling:

  • the management of caravan parks, and
  • installation standards for new structures installed on a dwelling site

This information is relevant to land and business owners, managers and occupants of caravan parks.

This information is limited to requirements set out under the Local Government Act, 1993 and Local Government (Manufactured Homes, Caravan, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation, 2005

BACKGROUND

The Regulation specifies very detailed standards regarding the operational management of caravan parks, as well as, setting minimum standards for new structures installed on individual dwelling sites.

Some of the requirements include:

  • the need to lodge applications to operate a caravan park
  • application requirements for proposed installations exceeding single storey height or new installations on flood-affected land
  • standards for installation of structures on dwelling sites
  • minimum standards for amenity and community facilities
  • provisions for fire fighting
  • minimum standards for preparation of community maps, and

WHAT IS A CARAVAN PARK?

A caravan park is an establishment, which has an existing Development Consent for a maximum number of dwelling sites within certain areas of the park for the purpose of installing moveable dwellings and relocatable homes. Management of a caravan park must comply with Part 3 of the Regulation. A moveable dwelling is a defined term. Its definition can be found under the Dictionary section toward the end of the Local Government Act, 1993. Moveable dwellings includes tents, caravans, campervans, manufacture homes and other associated structures (associated structures is also defined under the Local Government Act, 1993).

THE REGULATIONS APPLY TO EXISTING CARAVAN PARKS

The Regulations apply to caravan parks that existed before 1995. However there are some very specific concessions granted from certain requirements of the current Regulation and will depend on the park circumstances. For instance:

  • Structures installed prior to 1995 do not need to be upgraded to comply with today’s Regulation, but any new work must comply with today’s Regulations. New work includes installation of a new carport,  extension to an existing deck or modification to an open carport to enclose it either partially or fully with rigid screens and roller doors.
  • Caravan parks that have operated before 1995 are not required to have a wash bay or hydrants, but if the park were to undergo significant re-development then this may trigger provisions for an upgrade.

INFORMATION FOR MANAGERS

What must I do if I manage a caravan park?
If you are a caravan park manager you must ensure:

  • you are operating under a current “Approval to Operate” (Five year approvals)
  • have administration and operational procedures in place so that statutory requirements regulating these premises are met
  • maintain records of installations on dwelling sites. These records should verify any new installations on either a vacant or existing dwelling site comply with standards specified by the regulations (eg: site coverage, setbacks, fire rating, etc.)

If I manage a caravan park why do I need an “Approval to Operate” when the park already has Development Consent?
It is an offence under Section 627 of Local Government Act, 1993 to operate a caravan park without an approval issued under Section 68 of the same Act. An “Approval to Operate” is required in addition to any Development Consent issued for the use of the land as a caravan park. When such an application is lodged with Council the application must be signed by the owner/s of the land or have their written consent attached.

When is an approval to operate a caravan park needed?
Approvals have a stated expiry date. This date is very important as the next application must be before this date. It is advisable that an application is made about 40 days prior to the expiry date. The onus is on the park manager to ensure this application is made prior to the approval expiry date. Council is not obliged by law to send reminders to do this.

If the caravan park has been recently built, then an ‘Approval to Operate’ must be obtained prior to the commencement of operation of the park and after the issue of an Occupation Certificate, if there were any Construction Certificate works connected to the establishment of the park.

Once an application is received for an “Approval to Operate”, an assessing officer will contact the park manager and require the park manager or a nominated representative to participate in an audit aimed at verifying the caravan park is being operated in accordance with requirements specified under Part 3, Division 3, Subdivision 1-8 of the Regulation.

What if the Community Map is changed after the Approval to Operate has been issued?
As soon as practical after an amendment is made to the community map, a copy of the updated community map must be given to Council.

If the changes are outside the conditions approved under the existing development consent and the approval to operate, then it is likely you will need prior approval before making the change. Therefore, it is advisable that you seek independent advice from a planning consultant regarding such requirements.

INFORMATION FOR MANAGERS AND CARAVAN PARK OCCUPANTS

When is an application to do work on a site located in a caravan park needed?
The manager of the park will advise on the permissibility of any work proposed on any site in accordance with the Regulation and whether an “Application to Install” must be lodged with Council.

The State Environmental Planning Policy for Exempt Development does not apply to Dwelling Sites in Caravan Parks?
The State Environmental Planning Policy describes certain development which does not need approval from a consent authority. This Policy does not apply to work undertaken on a dwelling site in a caravan park which is regulated under the Local Government Act, 1993 and the Local Government (Manufactured Homes, Caravan, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation, 2005.

What is a Section 68 activity “Application to Install”?
An “Application to Install” is an activity application made under Section 68 of the Local Government Act, 1993. This application is required for any new installations, extensions to existing structures and alterations made to existing structures on a dwelling site and is required if the following circumstances exist:

  • park is located on flood liable land
  • for installations more than one storey in height (note: if subfloor is 2.1 metres or greater this is considered       to count as a storey), or
  •  development which proposes to depart from standards set out in the Regulations 

New work includes:

  • enclosure of a carport with roller doors, solid screens, sliding doors or walls
  • extensions to a deck or annex
  • fences and rigid privacy screens
  • addition of rigid adjustable louver’s or sliding doors to enclose existing roofed areas
  • complete demolition and replacement of an existing structure
  • moving an existing structure from one location to another location 

An activity application is not required for:

  • fabric adjustable blinds
  • pervious shade cloth fixed to an existing structure
  • driveways
  • paving which does not significantly alter the existing ground level, and
  • in relation to caravan parks the installation of a tent, or registered vehicle being a caravan or campervan. 

See below for information on “How to lodge an activity application”.

If the caravan park is located on flood liable land, is there any work that can be undertaken without the need for an activity application?
An activity application is needed for any new installation work on a dwelling site if the caravan park or manufactured homes estate has been identified as being on flood liable land.

An application is not required for maintenance, repair and renovation work. Renovation work is limited to painting, replacing furnishings or replacing deteriorated/damaged floor, wall or roof sheeting.

In regards to the conversion of an existing caravan to a relocatable home, the works that extend the area of the existing structure, or conversion of a carport into a garage are outside the scope of renovation work and therefore would require an application.

When is a carport no longer a carport?
A carport is no longer a carport if it does not have at least 2 sides open and one-third of its perimeter open. A side cannot be considered open if the roof of the carport is located within 500mm of another relocatable home or associated structure. An associated structure is a defined term under the Local Government Act, 1993 and its definition can be found in the Dictionary section toward the end of this legislation.

What could happen if what is undertaken works on a dwelling site contrary to the Regulations?
If Council becomes aware that work on a dwelling site has been permitted and completed contrary to the Regulations, Council may take enforcement action. Council in deciding whether to take such action, will base the decision on the available evidence, individual circumstances and the co-operation of relevant parties. At the conclusion of an investigation, Council may:

  • take no action
  • issue a verbal advice
  • issue a formal letter
  • issue notices/orders
  • refuse to issue an approval to operate the caravan park/manufactured homes estate
  • commence legal proceedings

How to lodge an “Application to Install”?
To lodge such an application for installation work you will need to submit the following:

  • Completed section 68 form.This form must be signed by the land owner or have attached consent from the land owner to lodge this application.
  • Written confirmation from the park manager (that is the person/company holding the approval to operate the park) regarding the acceptability of the proposed work and its consistency with the Local Government (Manufactured Homes, Caravan, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulations, 2005
  • Community plan highlighting the site location subject to proposed works
  • Scaled site plans showing:
    • location and dimension of site
    • boundaries layout of exists and proposed installations
    • separation  distances  between  the  proposed  installation and site  boundaries  as  well  as  distances from the proposed structures and any adjoining dwelling sites.
  • Dimensioned floor and elevations plans (including details of finished floor and ceiling levels in relation to AHD ground levels)Structural engineers details and technical design specifications (including details of termite protection, glazing, smoke detectors, etc).
  • Report from an accredited practicing Structural Engineer verifying the flood resistance and capability of the installation.
  • Proposal description statement verifying suitability of proposed work in relation to known site constraints.This statement is like an environmental effects statement and should include the following details:
    • Site description, description of proposed installation and use of installation and whether the proposal is located on an approved dwelling site and the type of dwelling site (eg long or short time site),
    • Whether the development will result in any changes to the community map and the nature of the change
    • Will the development increase the total number of dwelling sites as approved under the existing “Approval to Operate”,
    • Does the proposal comply with setbacks, site coverage and design specifications as prescribed by the regulation. If proposal is two storey, the impacts on adjoining dwelling sites or properties,
    • Method of disposal of roof water and sewerage and water supply,
    • Flooding impacts and flood compatibility and consistency with Council’s development controls for flood affected land,
    • Tree removal, and
    • Management of specific site constraints, such as, if the site is affected by a drainage or electrical easements, aboriginal heritage site and acid sulphate soils.
  • If a variation from the regulation is proposed, then a Section 82 objection made under the Local Government Act, 1993, prepared by an appropriately qualified person, must accompany the Section 68 – Approval to Operate a Caravan Park.

Note: Applications submitted for structures already installed or installed prior to the determined of the application will be refused and may be subject to possible enforcement action under Section 124 of the Local Government Act, 1993.

What must the park manager do for installation work and upon completion of such works on a dwelling site?

Included in requirements of Regulation are that a relocatable homes and associated structures must be of a design certified by a practicing Structural Engineer to be structurally sound. Also that compliance plates (specifying the matters referred to in Clause 159 for caravan parks) must be attached to an accessible part of the home and associated structure, and that within 7 days after the completion of the installation of the home/associated structure, the approval holder for the park or ground must give Council written notification of the installation in the form specified under Clause 160 for a caravan park.

Additional documentation may be required, if specified in the conditions attached to an Activity Installation Approval.

How can I find a copy of the Act and Regulations?

A copy of the Local Government Act, 1993 and Local Government (Manufactured Homes, Caravan, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation, 2005 can be found through the following website:  http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au