1. Do I need planning to place a mobile home in my garden?
A "caravan" is defined in s.29 of the Caravan Sites & Control of Development Act 1960 as "any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another..". The Mobile Homes Act 1968 states that a "Twin Unit" mobile home must also conform to certain dimensional and structural requirements (see The Mobile Homes Act, 1983)
A caravan may be parked temporarily (in the same manner as a car) within the curtilage of a domestic property with no need for planning permission, unless there are limiting conditions applied when the house was built. This is more common in modern housing estates.
A caravan can also be used in a manner ancillary to the residential property; that is, in addition to the use of the house, but not as somebody's separate dwelling. You may use a caravan as a granny annex for example, but it must not become somebody's "only or main residence". There must remain a relationship between the caravan and the house, so, for example, meals could be eaten in the house. Use the caravan simply in the manner of an extra room/bedroom. Make sure it remains moveable.
Check to make sure your property deeds do not restrict this permitted development right; particularly on more modern estates or where the council has issued an Article 4 Direction, common in Conservation Areas.
2. Do I need planning to place a static caravan on agricultural land?
It depends on what the mobile home will be used for. The extract below is from ‘A Farmer’s Guide to the Planning System’ (produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) explaining the situations in which specific planning permission may not be required.
"The use of land (but not a building) as a caravan site in certain circumstances. These include:
use for stationing a single touring caravan for no more than two consecutive nights and for no more than twenty-eight days in a year;
use for stationing up to three caravans on a holding of at least 5 acres for no more than twenty-eight nights in a year;
use as a caravan site of land occupied by an exempted organisation (eg. Caravan Club), or use for not more than five caravans at a time of a site certified by an exempted organisation, or use as a caravan site for not more than five nights for a meeting organised by an exempted organisation for its members;
seasonal stationing of caravans as accommodation for agricultural or forestry workers, and;
use as a caravan site for travelling showmen whilst travelling (but not as winter quarters). In addition, a site licence under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (click for full document) is not required in any of these circumstances.
Click for the full "A Farmer's Guide to the Planning System" document
All cases are considered on an individual level so even if your case falls into one of the above sections it is ALWAYS advisable to speak to your local planning authority to clarify your situation.
More information on farm mobile home accommodation and planning
3. Do I need planning permission to live in a static caravan while completing a self-build or renovation?
Generally speaking, you do not need planning approval to live in a mobile home on the site where you are carrying out building work. As long as one of the family members is involved in the construction or management of the project on a full-time basis.
However, as with all planning issues, each case is individual and different councils may have conflicting requirements. For example, with a renovation project because the house is already in existence, the mobile home would be within the dwelling-house curtilage so not require planning approval.
For a completely new build, i.e. no house has been there before, some councils would require planning approval. For this situation it is advisable to include the mobile home in your initial planning application, it will not cost any extra to add and is highly unlikely to affect the planning for your house.
We recommend you discuss your situation with a local planning officer before siting a mobile home on your build site.
More information on self builds and mobile homes.
4. Can I use a mobile home as a dwelling while completing forestry work?
It is extremely unusual to obtain planning approval for a dwelling in a wood. However, there is an allowance for forestry workers to live in caravans in woods during a particular season while carrying out forestry work (see part 5 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995). There is no specific season according to the High Court, who concluded in 1993 that a season is "less than a year".
Planning permission is not required for forestry work (except where there is a tree preservation order) and may not be needed for buildings or uses of land necessary for forestry.
More information on Forestry and Static Caravans
5. Can a mobile home be a stepping stone in getting a house?
This issue is most relevant if the mobile home is essential to a new rural business most usually agricultural or horticultural. Mobile homes are sometimes allowed for key workers to live on the site to assist the launch of the business. Permission must be gained from the local planning authority which will require proof that the business is feasible and that a minimum of one person is required on site 24 hours a day to care for livestock, for example. The minimum time given for the static caravan is usually three years. As long as the business continues to grow, permission for a permanent building will usually be given.
6. Can a static caravan become established with no permission?
According to the "10 Year Rule" (available in Town and Country Planning Act 1990), if you can provide proof to the council that your static caravan has been situated in its current position for more than ten years, it is generally too late for the council to initiate proceedings against it. You would need to show proof such as invoices for associated work, evidence of a postal address such as a utility bill, transportation, and sworn statements by people who have known the site during the ten years. This proof can be used in the application for a certificate that establishes the use as lawful. Once this is given, the site can then be used for a static caravan, including replacements.