News – Static Caravan and Mobile Home Planning Considerations

What is planning permission/consent?
“Planning permission or planning consent is the permission required by most property developers and private individuals in the UK in order to be allowed to build on, or change the use of, a plot of land or to redevelop an existing building.”

How do I know if I need planning permission for my mobile home?
There are many factors to take into consideration with regards to Planning permission. Some of these factors include where the mobile home is going to be sited, how long it is there for and what it is going to be used for. We have done our utmost to present to you relevant information for various different scenarios regarding mobile homes and planning. We must advise that the information provided is only a guideline and we strongly recommend anybody siting a mobile home anywhere other than on a park to contact their local planning authority to get further information.

What is planning permission required for?
Planning permission is required for “development” of land. The definition of “development” is “the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, over or under land or making of any material change in the use of any building or other land,”
It is therefore vital to consider the meaning of both “building” and “building operation”. Whilst the phrase “building” has been found to be broad enough to include structures and erections which might not ordinarily be regarded as a building, the courts have decided that if something falls within the definition of a “Caravan” it cannot also be a “Building”. The two definitions are mutually exclusive.

The legal definition of a “Caravan” is:
“Caravan means any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another whether by being towed or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer”

Uses of land
On the whole, land in the UK can be put to a use which either:
Has planning consent (but subject to any conditions attached to such consent)
Is an established use which has become lawful over a number or years (see our Self Build/Renovation Planning page for more about the Ten Year Rule) or
Involves agriculture or forestry activities.
As stated above, “development” includes “the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land”. When assessing whether your mobile home may require planning permission it is necessary to look at the second part of the definition of “development” which concerns the making of a material change in the use of land. The guidelines below suggest where a mobile home could be sited without the need for Planning permission:

Incidental use within the curtilage If a mobile home is sited within the curtilage of a dwelling-house for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling-house, it is unlikely to require planning approval. Generally the curtilage of the house must display the following characteristics:
It is generally confined to a small area about a building
There is an intimate association with the land
It is not necessary for there to be physical enclosure of land within the curtilage but it at least needs to be regarded as part of one enclosure with the house.
The mobile home must also be used for a purpose “incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling-house”, that is in addition to the use of the house, but not as somebody’s separate dwelling. You may use a static 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. The static caravan should be used simply in the manner of an extra room/bedroom.

Incidental to the permitted use of land

Apart from the above exceptions, the siting and use of the mobile home must be incidental to the permitted use of that piece of land on which it is sited, in order for it not to require planning permission. For example, the use of a caravan for the storage of farm equipment may be incidental to a permitted use of agricultural land but if on the other hand it is actually put to use for human habitation then that will represent a material change in the use of the previously agricultural land. For more information on agricultural uses of mobile homes click here. This deals with the relevant specific exceptions to what constitutes “developments”. There is another category of exception to the broad scope of control.

Deemed planning consent
There a numerous other cases, operations and changes in use of land which although constitute development, are effectively exempted from the system because permission is deemed to be granted for them. These exemptions are covered by the General Permitted Development Order 1995. The most relevant section is part 5 Caravan Sites, however, please bear in mind there are certain restrictions on these but in principle they may be of use.

Caravan sites
The use of land for the stationing of a caravan is permitted development under the following circumstances:
use within curtilage of a dwelling-house already discussed above
use of a caravan site for single caravans for up to 2 nights, but subject to an annual limit of 28 days on that land or adjoining land
up to 3 caravans are allowed without a site license (see Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960). For up to 28 days a year on holdings of less than 5 acres.
seasonal use of agricultural land as a caravan site for agricultural or forestry workers.