School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems


The University of New South Wales



Design and Planning of Caravan Parks



by Ryan Wills


Supervised by M.B. Green



Edited by C.Rizos


October 2004




The use of caravan parks has changed since their origination as holiday destinations for families and travellers. The increasing in housing prices has seen them become popular alternative forms of affordable housing for a range of tenants. Caravan parks have become popular places for permanent residence for age groups ranging from young families to pensioners. This evolution has led to changes in legislation such as the introduction of the Residential Parks Act 1998 to protect the rights of permanent residents in caravan parks. There are three main factors involved in the design and planning of a caravan park. These are legislation and regulations, social and economic issues, and engineering and design factors.



Legislations and Regulations

Residential Parks Act 1998- this Act applies to residential tenancy agreements for moveable dwellings and manufactured homes in a caravan park. In general this refers to permanent residents using the park as their place of residence and not long-term casual tenants.

Holiday Parks (Long-Term Casual Occupation) Act 2002- this Act applies to an occupant who has a principal place of residence that is not the site and must take up a lease for the land of at least 1 year. The occupant cannot occupy the land for more than 180 days within a 12 month period.

State Environmental Planning Policy 21- Caravan Parks- SEPP21 applies to land that is in a local government area that is licensed for moveable dwellings. Its aim is to control the design and management of caravan parks being used primarily for both long-term and short-term residents.

State Environmental Planning Policy 36- Manufactured Home Estates- SEPP36 has been created to aid in the creation of affordable and secure medium-density residential development.

State Environmental Planning Policy 10- Retention of Low-Cost Rental Accommodation- this policy is primarily concerned with backpacker hostels and other similar forms of accommodation but can also be applied to Caravan Parks and Manufactured Home Estates. It was designed to aid in the availability of affordable housing.

Local Government (Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 1995- the purpose of this regulation is to create affordable opportunities for both short and long-term accommodation. The regulation sets out both guidelines and restrictions as to the design and construction of Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings.


Social and Economic Issues and Related Design Factors


Caravan parks are now used by many different groups of people for different purposes. There are two major groups of tenants in a caravan park. The first group is casual occupants, both short-term and long-term and the second is permanent residents. Within the group of casual occupants there are sub-groups. One is short-term residents that stay for periods of time ranging from overnight up to a few weeks. The other major group is long-term casual occupants that lease a site on an annual basis and own their own van that remains on the site all year round. These long-term sites often become very well established and function more as a holiday house rather than as a moveable caravan. The second major use of caravan parks is permanent residency. The more major groups are retirees, first home buyers and other people looking for a more affordable form of housing. The most important issue in the mixing of these two very different groups of tenants is the relative positioning of the tenant groups with respect to each other. The permanent residential section should be situated in a separate part of the park to the short-term and long-term casual occupants. This is to ensure the privacy and living conditions of the permanent residents.




Engineering and Design Factors



The engineering and design factors involved in the construction of a caravan park have become more involved than in earlier days. Modern caravan parks are planned in a similar way to suburban subdivisions. These designs take into account factors including site area, lot size, floor space to lot area ratios, setbacks, road design, utilities and services, stormwater design, vegetation, solar access, audio and visual privacy, building materials, flood liable land and bush fire hazards. Most of these factors have applicable restrictions in the regulations with the exception of solar access, vegetation and the privacy issues. These factors can be addressed by planning lot orientation and designated envelopes for caravan placement.



                 Examples of Drainage Design


Figure 1: Drainage- Access road with dish-drain on up-hill side of road only. (Photograph taken by Ryan Wills 08/2004)


Figure 2: Drainage- This design uses a channel design with pits on the centreline of the road. In the event of a blockage or excessive flow the road becomes the design drainage system. (Photograph taken by Ryan Wills 08/2004)


Caravan Park Design



The primary focus of the design was to provide a higher quality of living and to create a favourable environment for both permanent and casual occupants. This was achieved by following the regulations and exceeding some of the minimum requirements. The result was a park that has a superior living environment with large lots and a large proportion of open space. A small site was chosen to design the park because it was more challenging to integrate the different tenants and uses in a confined area. The constraint of a smaller site highlights the importance of relative positioning of different tenant groups and community facilities. Click here to view the Caravan Park Design.







The use of caravan parks has changed substantially since their origination as holiday destinations. In recent years there has been a shift in the pattern of use of caravan parks with an increase in the proportion of permanent residents. This changing pattern in tenants and use has created new planning issues in the design of caravan parks. These changes have prompted new legislation and regulations to be implemented and these have been covered in this thesis. As the demands on caravan parks continue to change the planning and design methods will need to evolve also. The park designed for this thesis was suited to a specific site in an area that required a mixture of holiday and permanent accommodation.







Local Government (Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 1995.

Residential Parks Act 1998.

Holiday Parks (Long-Term Casual Occupation) Act 2002.

State Environmental Planning Policy No 10- Retention of Low-Cost Rental Accommodation.

State Environmental Planning Policy No 21- Caravan Parks.

State Environmental Planning Policy No 36- Manufactured Home Estates.

Hadlington P.W. & J.A. Johnston (1983), Australian Trees, 3rd edition, New South Wales University Press Limited, ix + 133 pages.

Wilson A. (1993), The Plant Manual, Book One, Caps & Lower Case





Further Information


For more information, please contact:

Michael Green (Supervisor)




School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems

University of New South Wales




Phone: +61-2-9385-4202

Fax: +61-2-9313-7493