It’s surprisingly true that laws relating to touring caravans, the type you tow behind a car, also apply to mobile home and static caravans: a type that can be significantly larger and suitable for year-round residential accommodation.
Historically mobile homes have little architectural beauty and bear connotations of lower quality 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 annexe’ 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.
The Caravan must be in the ‘Curtilage’ of a dwelling house. This is the drive or garden, not adjoining paddock land, for example.
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 business premises.
The actual structure must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ based on its size, mobility and construction method.
Overview of the Law – Caravans in Gardens
A caravan, be it a touring or static caravan or a large twin-size mobile home, is regarded as an article of movable personal property known as a ‘chattel’ and there is no public law preventing one being kept in someone’s garden, but there are Laws that regulate the ‘Use’ of land.
The siting of a caravan within the garden of a property does not require express consent provided a ‘material change of use’ has not occurred. Gardens are used for the enjoyment of the main dwelling house. If a caravan(Annexe)is parked in a drive or sited in a garden and used by members of the household in connection to the enjoyment of the house or as extra accommodation for visiting guests, provided the occupants continue to use the facilities of the house, then the siting of the caravan has not changed the ‘use’ of the land. However, if for example a caravan is sited in a garden and used as business premises, separately rented or used as a primary independent dwelling, with no relation to the main house, the local planning Authority could decide that an unauthorized ‘material change of use’ has occurred, for which planning permission will be required.
Mobile Homes and Caravans can be sited and used in a garden without the need for express planning consent. If the use is not considered part of, or incidental to, the house, then a ‘material change of use’ may have occurred. If the caravan is not considered to conform to the definition of a caravan then ‘building operations’ may have been carried out. In either case, planning permission will be required.
Key Legal References
Section 55(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 defines ‘development’, which requires planning permission, as carrying out of building and other operations or making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.
Under s 55(2)(d) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 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 to be taken to involve development of the land.
The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 Schedule 1. Cases where a Caravan site License is not required. 1. Use within curtilage of a dwellinghouse. A site licence shall not be required for the use of land as a caravan site if the use is incidental to the enjoyment as such of a dwellinghouse within the curtilage of which the land is situated.