Changes to the rules for pay-and-display for campervans and motorhomes are set to be discussed by the council

Changes to the rules for pay-and-display for campervans and motorhomes are set to be discussed by the council.

Members of the public will be able to watch a debate on the topic at the next East Devon District Council (EDDC) scrutiny committee meeting on April 8.

Council reports have shown there is a continuing rise in the numbers of campervans and motorhomes on East Devon highways and public car parks, which will likely only increase as lockdown eases.

Vehicles range from unconverted short wheel base panel vans with mattresses inside to large fully self-contained high specification luxury motorhomes costing well over £100,000.

While many of these vehicle owners use official licensed campsites, EDDC has seen an increase in the numbers of people actively seeking the freedom of parking overnight in unauthorised locations such as on streets and in public car parks, breaking rules and regulations.

This in turn has created a number of issues for local residents, including problems with waste water discharge, domestic refuse disposal, visual amenity, loss of parking space, noise and obstruction of pavements or highway with items such as tables, chairs, barbecues, water sports equipment and fire wood – to name a few.

Having debated the matter, members of EDDC’s Car Parking Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) will be recommending the following to the council’s scrutiny committee meeting.

1. Day visitors – no change is necessary to the current policy. If a vehicle took up more than one parking bay then it would be expected to pay for multiple simultaneous parking sessions.
2. Stopovers – overnight stays in car parks be allowed (subject to strict terms and conditions) in any of the district council’s pay and display car parks that are deemed suitable in consultation with ward members and the relevant town or parish council. It may be appropriate to allow overnight stays of up to two or three consecutive nights in suitable locations. In addition to a parking space, self-contained vehicles could be offered drinking water facilities and domestic refuse disposal facilities, the costs of which would be covered by new overnight charges. No barbeques or fires would be permitted.
3. Fire safety – overnight stays would only be allowed in circumstances that were compliant with relevant fire safety legislation. To ensure there was safe separation of vehicles overnight designated parking bays, 3 metres apart, would be provided in suitable car parks. Car Parking Task and Finish Forum 3 March 2021
4. Tariffs – motorhome and campervan users would not be eligible for purchasing any of the standard car park permits, and could only use the pay and display car parks on a ‘pay as you use’ basis. A 24 hour tariff should be in the region of £15-£20, to ensure costs were covered but not to deter parking in off-street car parks, or displace vehicles to on-street locations.
5. Arrangements for local residents – local residents would not be able to purchase a parking permit to use the council’s public car parks for long-term storage of motorhomes and campervans when they were not in use. However, ‘exemption’ permits would be considered on a case by case basis for residents who could demonstrate that they relied on a small campervan as their regular daily transport and that they did not have suitable alternative off-street parking facilities available elsewhere. The vehicle would need to be registered and insured at the resident’s home address and the resident must live in close proximity to the long stay car park in question. The vehicle should be no longer than 5.1 metres and no overnight stays would be permitted.
6. Dedicated sites – officers should explore the possibility of creating dedicated motorhome/campervan pitches to allow longer stays and for which a premium overnight rate comparable with commercial campsites could be charged. Officers should begin a formal consultation process with local members, the town council and Natural England to consider the impact of the first such development on the site of Exmouth’s former lorry park, adjacent to the estuary. Further consideration would then be needed in terms of financial investment decisions and planning permission.
7. Local Plan – a policy for campervans and motorhomes should be incorporated into the new local plan.

The chair of the committee Cllr Colin Brown, said:

There was a wide ranging and interesting debate involving members of the TAFF and whilst the council does not wish to compete with existing campsite operators, we did feel that the councils car parks could potentially be part of a solution to some of the problems arising from visitors who are already choosing not to use official campsites.