News – Daily Express Article

Gran designs on gardens

BRANCHING OUT: A MiniHomes timber-frame lodge
By Andrea Watson
Posted: 2010/01/22

I’M not the only householder with a garden who is curious to know how the new, relaxed planning regime might view an application to build an annexe for a family member – such as a granny

The Boutique Caravans site shows a new-wave caravan with wood cladding created by Dick Shone, a former graphic artist, designed essentially for use as anenvironmentally attractive park home but which can be adapted for use as a garden office, home extension or annexe.

The caravans are built in a factory and delivered to sites ready to be connected to water, gas and electricity, so there is a lot less building mess and disruption and a rapid build time.

They could fill the need for homes for ageing relatives, giving them somewhere they can be both independent and looked after. The big question is, will your local authority allow such a mobile home to be used permanently for residential purposes?

“It’s partly down to your site,” said Mr Shone. “The rules on development have changed and differ for rural and urban areas. If you’ve a large enough garden and the annexe is not too large, or too near a boundary, and runs off your utilities, some local authorities might permit it if it’s for a family member. You also have to ensure that the annexe would not overlook anyone or take their light.”

Mr Shone suggests using the Government’s guidelines site( for broad advice on what constitutes “permitted development”, though it offers no concrete advice on using a garden to build a granny annexe.
He also recommends speaking to a local planning officer.

“Officers are more approachable and much more straightforward, these days,” he explains.

You may want to consider some of the great new lodge designs as well, models such as the Retreat by architects Buckley Gray Yeoman. Also designed for parks, these may be sited in a garden without need for planning consent provided it is legally classed as a caravan and sited within your home’s curtilage.

MiniHomes is another supplier of timber-frame lodges that might be used as a granny annexe and its website is more explicit on the rules. Director Guy Little, an expert on the planning changes, said: “The important thing is usage. Anyone using the mobile home must also have use of the main home.

“If a caravan is used just for sleeping, it is ancillary and you do not need approval. If it is capable of being used as a separate residence, you will. If you prove a significant degree of dependence on facilities within the main house, for example meals, storage and utilities, you may be able to use it as an annexe.

“It can be 20 by 6.8 metres, large enough for five double bedrooms, but it must be sited in your garden, not in a paddock or woodland.”