Planning permission can be a difficult issue to navigate for anyone who is new to development or construction. This is especially true which it comes to static caravan and mobile home planning permission, where the rules and regulations can greatly differ from traditional legislation -depending on a range of factors.
At Allens Caravans, we have been working with caravan legislation for decades, consistently helping our customers and our parks to navigate the field of mobile home planning permission. In this guide, we have utilised our knowledge to help you, too. Consider this a resource and come back to it whenever you need to!
Disclaimer: We are not legal experts and regulations do vary between local authorities. This article does not constitute legal advice. We would highly recommend that you speak to a professional legal representative as well as your local planning authority before moving forward with any building or development works.
Before moving into the finer details, it’s important to look at what planning permission constitutes.
Planning permission is required when you want to erect a building or development, and permission is granted by your local authority. You have to apply for planning permission and illustrate exactly what your development will be for, how large it will be and who will be using it. Then, the planning authority in your area will gauge the impact of your proposal on the public and the environment, either approving or declining the application as a result.
It’s important to note that it is your responsibility to apply for planning permission before moving forward with any form of development or construction. If work is not granted and you go ahead anyway, there can be serious legal consequences and, often, the structure you have just erected could be torn down – resulting in a lot of wasted money.
Now that has been addressed, we can move onto caravans and mobile homes, in particular.
The rules we are about to discuss apply to legally defined caravans or mobile homes. Therefore, we should ensure that this definition is made absolutely clear before moving forward.
In Section 29 (1) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, a caravan is defined as:
“…any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted but does not include
(A) Any railway rolling stock which is for the time being on rails forming part of a system, or
(B) Any tent”
To summarise that quote, a caravan is a residential property that can be easily moved from one place to another, including motor vehicles which have been adapted for this purpose but don’t have rails (for railway travel) or a tent.
Since this Act, there have been extensions and amendments to the definition, including specific size rules limiting the length, width and height (20m, 6.8m and 3.05m respectively) and additional regulations for twin-unit caravans.
Ultimately, these rules cover all static caravans which can be assembled in no more than two pieces and moved via towing or trailer, as well as driveable mobile homes and towable touring caravans.
We can now answer the burning question – do you need planning permission for your mobile home or static caravan? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘it depends’. Planning permission legislation has caveats and details which take into account not just the type of structure you are developing or building, but also where you are erecting it and purpose of the development, too.
Here are the main rules and regulations surrounding the different types of static caravan developments.
If your proposed development revolves around erecting static caravans as part of a commercial business venture, you will definitely need mobile home planning permission. Your local authority will need to survey the economic value of your venture before giving approval for the development, assessing the impact on the local area, environment and economy to ensure it is within the public interest.
Whilst you might think that private land is private land and you can do whatever you’d like with it, this is not the case. Planning permission for mobile homes on private land can vary greatly depending on the nature of the land in question. Here’s a more detailed analysis of the two most common points to consider.
If the static caravan development is on private land with an existing dwelling present – e.g. in a garden where you already have a house or an estate where you already have a residential property – then the regulations are quite detailed.
What the Legislation Says
According to Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990):
Planning legislation relates to a “development” or “new development”, which is defined as meaning:
“…the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.”
A key detail of this is the fact that there can be no “material change in the use of any buildings or other land”, meaning that wherever you place your mobile home or static caravan, if it changes the use of the land then it is subject to planning permission.
Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) goes on to say that:
“…the use of any buildings or other land within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such;” is not subject to planning permission legislation related to ‘developments’ or ‘new developments’ as defined above.
What This Actually Means
To clarify this, if you are erecting a static caravan in your garden – “the curtilage of a dwellinghouse” – then it does not require planning permission as long as it is directly related to the enjoyment of the property’s residents. This means that you can place a mobile home in your garden without planning permission, as long as it is only going to be used as guest accommodation or by family members living in the property. The land must still retain its original use as space for the property’s residents to use freely. This is because of the earlier statement about “material change in the use of any buildings or other land”
If instead, the static caravan development is intended to be rented out or used as a business premises, then this will require planning permission still.
Note that local authorities vary in their requirements and some require developers to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development which is different to planning permission. As with all matters of law, if you’re in doubt, inquire with your regional planning authority.
If the static caravan development is on private land and there is no dwelling present – e.g. if you own a plot of land with no residential property on it – then the above exception to planning permissions are revoked. You will need to apply for full permission before your development begins.
Again, it’s important to emphasise that different local authorities can have different rules surrounding planning permission. When it comes to matters of the law, it’s always important to ask a professional legal representative and the relevant regional authority before making any concrete decisions.
Alternatively, if planning permission is a hassle, consider purchasing a static caravan on a dedicated site where it’s the operator’s job to handle that sort of thing. At Allens Caravans, we have a range of residential and holiday caravan parks, perfect if you’re looking for a holiday home or a secret getaway. Explore our options by clicking the links above, or get in touch with our dedicated team for personalised suggestions and advice.