Caravan parks and camping
Do I need an approval?
When you need an approval
The use of an area of land for accommodation in any of the following:
- Camping Ground;
- Caravan Park; or
- Temporary or semi-permanent accommodation for residential or recreational purposes, including occupying or sleeping in, or attempting to occupy or sleep in, a tent, caravan or vehicle.
Please Note: This includes the use of semi-permanent accommodation on private land whilst being built on by the owner-builder or builder. A copy of the approved Development Permit is required as part of this application.
When you do not need an approval
The following activities do not require an approval from Council:
The temporary erection of a tent on premises at an occupied dwelling for the sole purpose of allowing a child to camp overnight in the tent on the premises.
It is illegal to set up tents or caravans on private property, such as vacant land, private lawns, commercial premises, parkland or other public places where there are no adequate facilities. Find out more about what is illegal camping (PDF, 365.07 KB).
Before you start
If you are starting a new caravan park or camping ground, taking over or making changes to an existing business, you will need to consider planning, building, and plumbing approvals.
Even if your project does not need a planning approval, you may still require a building approval or plumbing approval.
Your first step when starting any caravan park or camping ground is to check if you need a planning approval.
Council’s planning scheme guides how land can be used and developed.
Caravan parks and camping grounds may need planning approval for these activities:
- starting a new caravan park or camping ground
- changing the type of activity (e.g. from private residence to caravan park)
- re-establishing a caravan park or camping ground that was abandoned
- changing the intensity of the activity (e.g. adding extra camping grounds)
- carrying out building work (e.g. adding a pool)
- carrying out plumbing or drainage work.
To find out if you need to submit a development application, you can:
- lodge an enquiry with Council
- arrange a pre-lodgement meeting with Council
- engage a town planning consultant registered with the Planning Institute of Australia.
- self-assess your property details against Council’s planning scheme.
Building work in a caravan park and camping ground may include:
- fitting out new facilities
- installing rigid annexe to caravans
- when caravans are used for long term residential purposes.
All building work is assessed against the building assessment provisions (including, but not limited to, the National Construction Code and the Queensland Development Code) which set the minimum requirements for building structure, fire safety, access and egress, health and amenity, and energy efficiency.
To find out if you need building approval, you can:
Assessable building work requires building approval from a building certifier. Sometimes the building certifier relies on advice from other people for assessing the design/specification and inspection of buildings.
The building certifier uses these forms to accept advice on assessable building work.
- Form 15 specifies the design and its limitations.
- Form 16 confirms the installation or construction meets the design.
Your building certifier will collect these forms if necessary.
During the licence application process, Council may ask for a Form 15 that certifies the design of a major component of your business (e.g. as manufactured homes), and a Form 16 to certify that the component was installed to the design specification.
Find out more about Forms 15 and 16.
Caravan parks and camping grounds with a swimming pool must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 3.4 - swimming pool barriers.
Refer to the commercial swimming pools for more information.
Caravan parks and camping grounds may need plumbing and drainage approval for the following activities:
- release of trade waste to sewer
- installation and maintenance of backflow prevention devices
- use of non-reticulated water supply (tank water)
- on-site sewage facilities.
Plumbing and drainage work should be conducted by a licensed plumber.
Contact Council or your local water authority for more information.
Trade waste is liquid waste produced by a business. All businesses require consent from the local water authority to release trade waste to the sewer.
Trade waste from a caravan park or camping ground includes discharge from portable toilets, car wash bays, shared laundry, shared kitchens, and floor or mop sinks.
Some caravan parks may also need pre-treatment and monitoring equipment (e.g. separators, interceptors, grease traps, or in-sink or in-drain baskets) before discharge to sewer.
The property owner or leasee (depending on the lease agreement) is responsible for organising trade waste consent including the installation of any pre-treatment equipment.
Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on trade waste consent.
Backflow prevention devices stop sewage flowing back through to the town’s water supply. There are two different types of backflow prevention devices, testable and non-testable.
All caravan parks and camping grounds connected to town water require a non-testable backflow prevention device. A licensed plumber can install a non-testable backflow prevention device for you.
Caravan parks and camping grounds with pre-treatment equipment will need to have a testable backflow prevention device. A testable backflow prevention device must be:
- installed by an endorsed backflow plumber
- registered with Council by the endorsed backflow plumber
- inspected or tested annually by a licensed plumbing contractor.
Contact Council or your local water authority for further information on backflow prevention devices.
Reticulated water is drinkable water supplied by the local water authority. Non-reticulated water is any other water you have access to (e.g. rainwater, groundwater from wells or bores, or greywater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances).
Some local governments require the use of rainwater or greywater systems for new buildings. A list of participating local governments is available on the Department of Housing and Public Works site.
Caravan parks and camping grounds with access to town water (reticulated water) must use town water to supply patrons with clean drinking water.
If you don’t have access to town water, you will need to demonstrate the water you supply is safe to use. This normally means you need to chemically treat, heat treat, or specially filter the water. Find out how you can safely use non-reticulated water.
Caravan parks and camping grounds can still use rainwater or greywater (or other non-reticulated water) for non-drinking purposes including flushing toilets, gardening, car washing, and as cold water for washing machines.
The installation of a non-reticulated water supply must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 4.3 – Supplementary Water Sources. A plumbing approval is not required to use rainwater or greywater in your building, but your plumber will need to notify the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. Your plumber will provide you with a copy of the notification.
You may need planning approval or a building approval for storage tanks larger than 10m2, or if the tank is located in a cyclone area.
Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on the use of a non-reticulated water supply.
Some caravan parks and camping grounds may not have access to a sewerage connection.
You will need to provide on-site sewage facilities to treat, store and dispose of wastewater from sinks, showers, baths and toilets. On-site sewage facilities include an on-site sewage treatment plant or a septic system.
On-site sewage facilities require approval from Council. Some on-site sewage treatment plants require an environmental authority with the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science (DES). Find more information on sewage treatment plants for small resorts and caravan parks.
Contact Council for more information on on-site sewage facilities.
How to apply
The applicant for an approval must be a legal entity (e.g. person/s or company. Note - a trust name, business name or shop name is not a legal entity and cannot be the approved holder).
A new application is not required for minor changes to your approval (e.g. change of contact details). Contact Council regarding these changes. Find out how to make changes to an existing licence in this section.
Use this information to assist you in ensuring your application is complete and that you consider other applications that may be required for your caravan park or camping ground.
Caravan parks and camping grounds must be set out in accordance with Council requirements.
To assess the suitability of your premises, you are required to submit the following plans with your application.
- Layout plans detailing the intended location of all caravan sites, buildings, cabins, camping areas and access roads to a suitable scale (e.g. 1:100). Ensure your plans show:
- size and number of each campsite and caravan site
- site boundaries, outlines of buildings and the use of the adjoining properties
- the position and number of all amenities (toilet, shower and laundry facilities)
- the position of all water points and waste receptacles
- details of water quality, reticulation and drainage.
If you are not the owner of the land on which the caravan park or camping ground is to be situated, you will need to provide the written consent of the land owner.
You can download an example plan (PDF, 515.24 KB).
Public liability insurance
Whilst Council does not require you to have public liability insurance for this approval, you should research all options regarding your business insurance requirements.
Application process - new
This process is for starting a new caravan park or camping ground that requires a licence with Council.
You must ensure the site has relevant planning approval, building approval, and plumbing approval before you submit a caravan park or camping ground application.
- Submit your caravan park or camping ground application to Council using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the application is complete.
- Council will process your application and plans within the legislative or agreed timeframes. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process your application.
- When Council approves your plans, you may begin the fit out. Your building certifier and licensed plumber will advise if any other building or plumbing approvals are required.
- Upon completion of the fit out, you must contact Council for an inspection prior to commencing operation.
- When Council approves your licence, you can then commence operation of your caravan park or camping ground in accordance with the approved conditions.
- Council will inspect the premises on a regular basis.
For further information, contact Council.
Application process - taking over
This process is for taking over an existing caravan park or camping ground licence.
You may apply for a search of Council records to confirm that there is a current approval and to ascertain the current level of compliance. This process may require written permission from the vendor.
- Submit your caravan park or camping ground application to Council using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the caravan park and camping ground application is complete.
- Council will process your application within the legislative or agreed timeframe. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process your application.
- When Council approves your application, you can commence operation in accordance with the approved conditions.
- Council will inspect the premises on a regular basis.
For further information, contact Council.
Application process - making changes
This process is for making changes to an existing caravan park or camping ground.
Adding extra facilities or renovating your premises could change current planning, building and plumbing approvals. Contact Council to discuss any changes before you submit a caravan park or camping ground amendment application.
- Submit your caravan park or camping ground amendment application to Council using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the application is complete.
- Council will process your application and plans within the legislative or agreed timeframe. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process your application.
- When Council approves your plans, you may begin the fit out. Your building certifier and licensed plumber will advise if any further building or plumbing approvals are required.
- Upon completion of the fit out, you must contact Council for an inspection prior to commencing operations.
- When Council approves your application, you can then operate in accordance with the approved conditions.
If you need to amend details on your approval or require a copy of your approval contact Council.
You will be sent a notice prior to the expiration of your current approval that will require your immediate attention.
Some councils have rules about the type and location of any advertising signs for businesses. Depending on the type of advertising sign, you may need to obtain a licence. Find out more about advertising signs.
If you intend to sell or serve food on the premises, you may need to apply for a food business licence. Find out more about food business licences.
If you intend to sell or serve alcohol on the premises, you will need to apply for a liquor licence. Visit the Business Queensland website for information on liquor licences.
If you are registering a new business name, you will need to contact Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
How to comply
It is the responsibility of you and your staff to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.
Legislation relevant to caravan parks include:
Regulation (Inspection process)
Council is required to monitor the standard of operations in businesses and this is achieved through a routine inspection program. The expected frequency of these inspections will depend on the type of premises being operated and its level of compliance.
If you are providing caravan park and camping ground facilities, you must have a current approval and comply with the relevant legislation and all conditions on your approval.
If you have difficulty complying, contact Council.
Failure to comply may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions:
- a letter being issued requiring action or work to be conducted
- legal notice being issued requiring action to be taken or work to be conducted
- penalty infringement notice (PIN or on-the-spot fine)
- suspension of an approval
- cancellation of an approval
- seizure of items from the property
Council has a duty to investigate and respond to complaints received.
A complaint may result in an inspection of your premises to ensure you are complying.