Small Woodland Owners' Group

What is a structure?

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby Samantha Chapman » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:30 pm

We have been asked by the local authority to remove a tent and caravan that we have in a sheltered part of our wood. Their reasoning is that these constitute being classed as structures and fall within planning law. We have the tent and caravan to enable us to work throughout the winter months coppicing and charcoal burning.

Does anyone else have experience of local authorities and what they class as a structure?

Samantha Chapman
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Postby tracy » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:34 am

Sorry to hear this Samantha. Does this mean someone complained? Might be worth trying to find out who and work on relationships. I don't have experience in this, but I did think that a caravan was allowed....

I will email you what we have done.

This is one of the issues that SWOG is working on to increase understanding on what is needed for woodland management. It's a slow process though!


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Postby Binz » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:47 am

this from an article at

"Provided the caravan is not for residential use, it falls completely outside planning controls, and you do not need to ask the planning authority in advance. According to the Caravan Sites Act 1968, the legal definition of a caravan includes mobile homes and self-built structures. Under this definition, there is no necessity for the caravan to have wheels, as long as it is under the size limit (60 feet long, 20 feet wide and 10 feet high), can be delivered in no more than two sections by lorry, and is capable of being moved in one piece along a road when assembled."

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Postby tracy » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:08 am

I would also approach your Forestry commission officer. If you have a felling application in , then they know you are going to do work in your wood - and that gives a lot of help - I think! As far as I know, the council planners ask the FC for their thoughts in the situation...

other reading:

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Postby DaveTaz » Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:21 am

I asked our planning officer in North Wales about siting a caravan in our wood and all she did was repeat that we didn't need planning permission providing it wasn't used for living in! I have seen Binz's article before and everyone seems to agree with it. Sounds like you have an awkward planning department but i would contest their authority. The only other problem may be if your woodland is under 5 acres as I think this may make a difference with regard to siting a caravan. I have also read that you are normally allowed to keep up to 3 caravans with out needing permission but you may not stay in any one of them for more than 28 nights in the course of a year. Hope this is of some use.

Maybe this would be a suitable article/discussion to have in the new Living Wood magasine so that it can be made clear to us all, possibly with assistance from a planning officer!

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Postby mikepepler » Sun Oct 12, 2008 4:39 pm

The tent isn't allowed to stay permanently as far as I know, but the caravan is, as pointed out above.

The other point is that you can take the tent down and put it up somewhere else, forcing them to go through the whole procedure again - at least you're costing them some money, and maybe they'll eventually give up...

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Postby Samantha Chapman » Sun Oct 12, 2008 9:50 pm

Thankyou to all of you who have offered advice and support. Some very useful information, which I hope will help our cause. Will keep you updated with progress and may ask for more help if needed. Regards.

Samantha Chapman
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Postby tracy » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:42 am

There is an interesting guide available to read on the SWA site at the moment.

and on living in woods:

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Postby Solar Wood » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:07 pm

Hi Sam, What is the progress with the structures?

Does anyone have any solid solutions as it still appears to be a whim of individual officers /local council ideas that lead to the amount of persecution that is inflicted on people trying to conserve/assist nature/manage woodlands.

Does anyone have first hand experiences to share?

What about Sheds?

Wealden Council claimed a tarp tied to 4 trees with ropes was a structure (it was being used to shelter a small quad trailer)

If a tent is un guyed and laid flat on the ground and covered by a tarp, is this still a structure? When does a pile of bricks become a house (structure)?

Will it ever be easy to do nice things in woods without the "Wood Police" looking over your shoulder.

Solar Wood (disillusioned by red tape but still happy)

Solar Wood
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Postby tracy » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:56 am

This is such a tricky topic, and I know we can learn a lot from eachothers experience. I would just like to remind you that we have a meeting coming up that I hope will clear up a lot of questions!


Meeting 11th July , Woodland Enterprise Centre, Flimwell

Planning Problem or Opportunity?

Planning is mostly about ‘development’.

Woodlands are generally well protected by planning policy, so the amount of development that may be allowed within them is closely controlled.

However, in recent years, the public’s interest in woodlands has grown significantly, particularly for leisure and recreational use. This itself raises questions of policy. The workshop will look broadly at:

The planning regime as it presently relates to woodlands

Other relevant codes that influence what can and cannot be done

How your local planning department thinks and works!

Decisions digest

Problems and opportunities

Trends and the future

The Authorities’ vision for woodlands may well be to keep them much as they are. What is your vision?

So that the talk can be tailored to address specific concerns, it would helpful if you could email Tracy in advance with a brief description of any particular issues or concerns that you may have. Her address is [email protected] (privacy kept) or you can write your comments on the forum. Let Tracy know if you are coming to this free event.

Nicholas Ide is a Planning Consultant with Batcheller Thacker who have offices in Tunbridge Wells, Battle and Haywards Heath. For 4 years, he has headed up the Planning and Development Department. Prior to that, he acquired over 25 years’ Local Government experience with about half of that time as a Surrey based Chief Planning Officer. If you wish to talk to Nicholas prior to the event, please feel free to call him on 01892 509285.

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