A caravan park embroiled in a battle to allow the site to open for nine months each year has claimed a sales area should also be able to operate during the closed period.

Steeple Bay Holiday Park only has permission to open each day for eight months.

Park Holidays has now applied for a lawful development certificate to allow the existing sales area to be used between November 1 and March 14 each season.

The planning statement said: “The use of the site as a holiday home sales area has been operational between November 1 and March 14 in the following year for the ten years prior to January 1, 2018 and continues to date.

“This use is lawful because the time for enforcement action for a breach of the condition has expired.

“No enforcement action may be taken because the breach of condition has continued for more than 10 years.”

Under occupancy rules caravans cannot be lived in during weekdays from November until the end of February, so people are only allowed to stay on the site during weekdays between March and October each year.

But owners said they had signed contracts with Park Holidays allowing them to stay from March 1 to November 30 each year.

Maldon District Council served a breach of planning condition notice on Park Holidays on November 27.

The council is considering an application submitted by the firm to extend its planning permission to include November, having been charging people to stay there illegally for more than a decade anyway.

The council is due to decide on the new applications by the end of March.