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spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc
Posted: 21 December 2016 2:16 PM
Subject: spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc
Having a look around

Posts: 30
Location: AS Broadway EB

Having read a number of comments previously on this subject and seen a number of magazine articles, let me as a recently retired senior fire officer, add my comments to the debate.

The 6m spacing rule only applies to parkhomes, these are defined as wooden type buildings, and this figure comes from tests carried out by the BRE and included in the model standards. The model standards are quite clear they should only apply to Park Homes.

Since October 2006 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force and requires most people in charge of premises, to carry out a risk assessment and as part of that assessment to consider the risk of fire spread, hence the need to consider spacing between units.

However, everybody seems to have grasped that 6m is the required standard without realising where this has comes from or what it applies to. Even in the HM Government guide it talks about preventing fire spread between caravans and then gives the example 6m for parkhomes.

I have now created a page on my website which gives all the background information and links to all the documents concerned . see
Posted: 29 December 2016 3:26 PM
Subject: RE: spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc

Forum master

Posts: 4883
Location: Suffolk, Hymer B674 2006

The OP is a fire specialist (and his website promotes services which he offers as well as information) so I suppose it makes sense to him to assume that it's all about fire.

But there are other considerations and a Code of Practice issued (originally) by the Department of the Environment for camping sites and as I remember this specifies 6m between caravans in a row and 3m between tents in a row and at least 3m between rows, to allow for access by emergency vehicles (not just fire engines). Tents and caravans were not allowed to be mixed in a row!  It was the sort of thing a civil servant would dream up, working from first principles, and I doubt that anyone paid much heed to it, especially at places like Glastonbury.  Maybe a Local Authority enforcement officer might grab at it gleefully occassionally and copy its provisions into Site Licence Conditions.

The DofE's role in relation to camp site administration and safety was subsequently delegated to Historic England (and the equivalents in Scotland and Wales) and they may have issued their own updated guidance since.

I got interested in this some years ago when I was camping with a motorbike club and there would be a field full of mostly tents but some caravans and motorhomes - and even a full size coach which someone used for camping and labelled as an ambulance to allow him to evade road tax.  In theory everything was supposed to be well spaced but in practice everyone pitched next to their mates as they arrived and tents were so close their guy ropes were inter-twinned.  (The Local Authority steered well clear.) The overriding consideration for the organisers of these biker events was to shun caravans by insisting they were parked in a separate area but this was for cultural rather than any risk-management reasons.  Proper bikers carry a tent on their bike!

The Caravan Club use 6m spacing (between habitable units, ignoring awnings and cars parked in between) along rows but they space rows a bit closer so that diagonal separation between units might well end up less that 6m.  In essence they try to squeeze as many pitches as possible on to a site without nibbling too much below 6m separation in any direction - hence their obsession with "pitching on the peg".

Hard and fast spacing distances are probably unsound but I suspect 6m is a good distance to keep between habitable camping units onany permanent campsite - even though there have been cases of fires on Caravan Club sites which have involved fire spreading to adjacent units, even when 6m is being observed.  (They do not publicise these incidents!)  People do risky things on Caravan Club Sites like leaving electric heaters on all night in the caravan awning to dry towels because the electricity is not metered!

6 metre spacing would be pie in the sky for most MH parking places (eg French Aires) where MHs are often less than a metre apart and people sleep inside them - and probably cook etc as well.  This is true on the MH parking area at Canterbury's Park & Ride in Kent, so it isn't just the Frogs who distinguish between a camp site and a mere parking place.
Posted: 10 January 2017 6:17 PM
Subject: RE: spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc

Has lots to offer

Posts: 436

A camping/caravanning site has to be licensed by the Local Authority and as such each LA has site licence conditions based on 'Model Standards for Touring/Caravanning and Tenting Sites' I believe that most if not all require the 6 metre rule of separation between units.
Posted: 30 July 2019 9:40 AM
Subject: RE: spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc
Just joined

Posts: 4

Hi people

I am new to this site and reading through old posts. If there is a 6 mtr rule why is it only side to side we travel a lot and have never seen 6 mtrs back to back on any site does fire only travel side to side
Posted: 30 July 2019 10:50 AM
Subject: RE: spacing between caravans, motorhomes etc

Forum master

Posts: 4883
Location: Suffolk, Hymer B674 2006

Since my original response, which is still accurate as far as I am aware, campsites have started experiencing the widespread use of jumbo tents, some of which exceed 8m in size. This presents a problem for the Camping & caravanning Club, which still accomodates tents on all its sites, because they compromise the planned spacing distances. Their sites often have a less structured approach to pitch marking, so jumbo tents (and very large motorhomes) can really screw things up. They seem to have tried to solve this problem by designating some "jumbo" pitches, for larger tents and other units.

To answer the recent question, the 6 metre spacing guidance between MHs and caravans is still the expected standard on permanent campsites in UK, but not elsewhere. The aim for separation on CAMC sites is 6m but they occassionally still resort to closer back-to-back or diagonal spacing and they still ignore awnings for spacing purposes, even though caravanners commonly heat their awnings in cool weather and also use them for habitation purposes such as cooking. Some MH owners do too of course, but less commonly. The close packing of pitches on CAMC sites still calls for pitching "on the peg". CAMC might reasonable argue that their back-to-back spacing satisfies the "3m between rows" recommendation in the guidelines.

The 6m (3m for tents) spacing guidelines are widely and completely ignored on temporary camping sites such as those at music festivals.

For the individual MH owner a personal risk assessment using common sense is called for, especially when deciding whether to squeeze into a gap on an Aire abroad. I tend to baulk at side-by-side gaps of less than five feet but occassionally needs must.
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