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We have objected to a planning application by the Woodlands Caravan Park to extend the caravan park on registered common land at Upper Sheringham in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Woodlands Caravan Park has used the common for this purpose for many years without obtaining the required consent from the Secretary of State for Environment, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 and previous legislation. Now it seeks permission for nine static-caravan pitches and seasonal siting of 30 touring caravans which are currently limited to 28 days in the year.
The society has objected because the existing caravans and buildings, and the proposed additional ones, require ministerial consent in addition to planning permission. It has asked the council to defer determination of the planning application until the applicants obtain such consent. Norfolk County Council has also drawn attention to the common-land requirements. There is a public right to walk over the whole area under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 although the right does not extend to buildings and their curtilage, unless those buildings do not have planning permission.
Says Ian Witham, our local correspondent in Norfolk: ‘If one considers this site as though it were free of the works which apparently do not enjoy common-land consent, this is an open, unenclosed area of common land which makes a significant contribution to the special character of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In addition, the land is publicly accessible.
‘The development would be an eyesore, detracting significantly from the open character of what should be a publicly-accessible piece of common land situated within the AONB and immediately adjacent to a conservation area, ancient woodland and historic park or garden. It would also seriously harm people’s ability to exercise their statutory right to enjoy free access over the land.’