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Under existing planning rules (the Town and Country Planning [General Permitted Development] Order 1995), there is a general permission for temporary use of a site for up to 28 days in any calendar year. The permission is restricted to 14 days in the case of car boot sales and motorsports events and some antiques fairs.

It is under this permission that even quite large events, such as the Swinderby fairs, are allowed to operate, but CPRE believe the rules are open to abuse and only serve to damage the countryside.

CPRE campaigner Julie Stainton said: “We want these events to be brought under local democratic control, just like most other kinds of development which affect local people and their surroundings.

Some of these events might boost the local economy and are popular with the people who go to them. Fair enough – but let the local council decide, on behalf of the whole community, whether the overall benefit can justify the losses – because we know these can be considerable.”

The CPRE argue that the events that come under the Temporary Uses banner are difficult for local councils to police. An event could take place on one field for 14 separate days – then move to the adjacent field for another 14 days in the same year – and still not require planning permission, CPRE claim.

The Department of Transport London and the Regions issued a consultation document, Use Classes Order – Consultation on possible changes to the Use Classes Order and Temporary Uses Provisions – in January 2002, as part of its reform proposals for England’s planning system.

The CPRE want landowners to obtain planning permission before temporary uses take place but concede that such a change in planning rules may need to be phased in gradually, to avoid local councils being swamped with applications.

They also note that there may also be a need for reduced or waived fees for charities and special arrangements to minimise the effect on events, such as school or village fetes, which take place only once a year.