On safari (tents)

In dealing with an appeal arising from a dispute over the appropriate fee for a planning application for two safari tents in Herefordshire (DCS Number 400-021-168), an inspector has ruled that they constitute operational development.

The appeal was against the council’s failure to make a decision within the prescribed period, after the application had not been validated. The appellant claimed that the fee should be based on a change of use of the land, whereas the council maintained that the safari tents were structures constituting operational development which commanded a fee on that basis.

The inspector explained that whether the erection of the tents constituted operational development or not depended on whether the work would result in a material physical alteration to the land and in practice involved the tests of size, permanence and physical attachment.

With regard to size the inspector remarked that he would describe a tent with a floor area of over 45 square metres as very large. On physical attachment, it appeared to him that the overall structure was substantially fixed into the ground and would not easily be moved without being deconstructed and that this was an operation that was likely to be undertaken by a builder or similar professional. In terms of permanence the appellants stated that the wooden posts on which the platform sat were expected to last ten years. The inspector held that this was a significant period and did not suggest that the structure was transient or temporary.

Overall, the inspector found as a matter of fact and degree that the erection of the tents constituted building operations as defined in section 55(1)(A) of the Act. Their construction on the land therefore constituted development which required planning permission under section 57 of the Act. As such, he found that the council had been correct in stating that the fee for the application should be based on that applying to operational development. He concluded that as the appropriate fee for operational development had not been paid to validate the planning application no further action would be taken in connection with the appeal.

Section 4.31 of DCP Online covers the topic of operational development.