A discussion on this subject has been running on the Caravan Club’s Forum, Club Together, for a couple of weeks but an attempt to concentrate on the practical design aspects has run into difficulties, with too many off-topic and otherwise unhelpful posts. So I thought I would offer a more sheltered opportunity to progress the discussion on this Blog.
The proposition is that Nightstops for motorhomes (and potentially caravans) have developed along ad hoc and sometimes messy lines on the Continent, so could the Caravan Club, a big player in the UK recreational market, do better for UK by developing a more planned and coordinated set of nightstops to complement their existing and extensive network of large touring camp sites and smaller, five van, certificated locations?
Nightstops provide overnight parking and they might also have facilities for taking on water and dumping tanks, but they are not campsites. They don’t provide the facilities of campsites, like shower and toilet blocks or resident staff. They are for short stays, either as rest stops in transit or sleeping locations while touring an area, rather than for any sort of residence. At their simplest they are simply car parks where motorhomes are permitted to stop overnight.
Parking rather than camping rules will therefore apply and the units will usually be closer together (i.e. parked side by side) rather than spaced out as on campsites, with room for awnings and tables and chairs. They are therefore more like lorry parks, where drivers can park together, sleep for a few hours, maybe do some local shopping or visiting and then move on.
Along transit routes, nightstops on the Continent (called Aires and Stelplatz) are often large parking areas and they get very busy but nightstops are also found in rural villages and those may accommodate only a small handful and rareful be full. Parking may be restricted to motorhomes but is often shared with other vehicles, including lorries, although caravans are often prohibited.
Piecemeal development is taking place in UK using a mixture of exiting locations like pub and other car parks and some local authorities in tourist areas are recognising the value of providing for motorhomes rather than shunning them, but it’s patchy and slow. There are hopes for a positive impact on local tourism and businesses and concerns about an adverse impact on campsites and about Travellers and others abusing them.
There is an article on the All the Aires Website which condenses ideas from continental experience and suggests way to construct a good nightstop – and this is worth everyone who is interested in this topic reading as background information. The message is that they can be successful (and lucrative) but money should be taken for parking charges rather than services like water, which it is expedient and more practical to provide free of charge instead.
Service points can be simple
Could a big player like the Caravan Club usefully get involved and start to develop a network of Nightstops, big, small or a mixture, to compliment its camping locations? And if so what types should they be and where?
The Motorcaravan Club is actively engaged but is trying to provide nightstops as small camping locations, which brings them under camping regulations. The Caravan Club is already planning to give Nightstops consideration and is being encouraged to think outside that box – and the discussion on their Forum has already developed into the nuts and bolts of the idea: the types and sizes and locations and practical design aspects.
But it is getting clogged up with a lot of off-topic stuff, hence this invitation to discuss. Anyone may contribute but please note that comments which aren’t about the nuts & bolts of nightstop development and design will not be accepted.
How do you think nightstops can best be developed in UK? Over to you ……………………………………………