Planning Permission for Mobile Homes and Log Cabins In Garden.

Planning Permission for Mobile Homes and Log Cabins In Garden.

It’s surprisingly true that the laws surrounds touring caravans, the type you tow behind a car, also apply to mobile home and static caravans, a type that can be far larger and suitable for year-round residential accommodation.

Historically mobile homes have little architectural beauty and bear connotations of lower class living standards. However, modern designs and build methods can offer all the luxury of a conventional build.

You may have seen mobile homes and static caravans being transported along the motorway and think of the practical impossibility of delivering the structure into your back garden or down a local road, this need not be a problem. Caravans, even large mobile homes, can be assembled on site if access is restricted.  

Building a residential ‘granny annex’ as a mobile home is fantastic way to avoid the need for planning approval altogether and substantially increase the value and use of your property.

Key Factors

Location. The Caravan must be in the ‘Curtilage’ of a dwelling house. This is the drive or garden, no adjoining paddock land, for example. The land must be situated outside of a conservation area, national park or article land where development is restricted.

Use. The use must accompany the house, used by a family member or guest accommodation for example and not rented as a private residence or a separate dwelling or a business premises.

Structure. The actual structure must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ based on its size, mobility and construction method.

Common Questions

Bad access? If I couldn’t drive a small car to my back garden, how would a massive 20 x 6 meter 5 bedroom mobile home be moved in and out?

The Appeal Decision; Brightlingsea Haven Limited v. Morris 2008 stated; It is the structure that must conform to the law not the means of access to where the structure actually is, and whether it may have difficulty in reaching a road. It is now common practice to build or assemble caravans in hard to access back gardens. The structure must remain movable and capable of transport down a hypothetical road, even if access to a road may require craning over buildings or complicated procedures. They don’t need to have direct access to a road to be deemed a ‘caravan’. In terms of construction, Mobile Homes can be assembled onsite from many prefabricated pieces so long as they conform to the construction test.


Why would I want to live in a Caravan? I’ve stayed in caravans at holiday parks; they look horrible and are freezing cold in the winter!

Many people think of mobile homes and static caravans as having substandard comfort, dreary designs and paper-thin walls. However, they are not all like this. Modern mobile homes can offer all the luxury of conventional residential living. They can be built to the same insulation values as a normal house and come in a variety of designs and styles.  

How big can a ‘caravan’ be?

Although the size of a caravan is limited at 20x6.7m it’s still considerably large, with enough space for over five bedrooms, toilets, kitchen and living spaces. A caravan can be significantly larger than most buildings capable of obtaining planning approval as annexes. Also, a caravan in the garden doesn’t affect permitted rights for other outbuildings and extensions.

Why not just have outbuildings? Homeowners have rights to build outbuildings without planning permission. Why would I consider a Mobile Home?

Many homeowners are familiar with the ‘Permitted Development Right’ to have sheds and other outbuildings in a garden without the need for planning approval (The Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order 2008)
. However, the development rights for sheds and outbuildings don’t allow residential use, a structure with a kitchen and bathroom is not allowed and the size allowance is significantly smaller.

I could probably get planning permission for a ‘granny annex’ if I applied?

Although many applications are refused, the Authorities do allow the use of annexes for relatives in some instances. The key disadvantage here is size, although a simple one bed outbuilding maybe accepted, the chances of getting approval for a massive 4-5 bedroom bungalow are slim, however a Mobile Homes can be this size and be sited without the need for planning approval.