A caravan, be it a touring or static caravan or a to 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 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 a 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 used an sited in garden without the need for express planning consent but if the uses is non-incidental to the house then a ‘material change of use’ may have occurred or if the caravan is not considered to conform to the definition of a caravan then ‘building operations’ may have been conducted, either of which will require permission.
Location. The Caravan must be in the ‘Curtilage’ of a dwelling house. This is the drive or garden, no adjoining paddock land, for example. The land must be situated outside of a conservation area, national park or article land where development is restricted.
Use. 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 a business premises.
Structure. The actual structure must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’ based on its size, mobility and construction method.
Mobile homes in gardens, described in a sentence
Caravans, including mobile homes up to 65x22ft, can be sited in the direct garden of a house without planning permission if they are used by members of the household as additional living space not as independent accommodation.
Two Citations for Explanation
These two citations give a clear, general explanation of the Law. A caravan can be used in a garden for extra living accommodation without the need for planning approval but a caravan used as a separate residence may not.
Communities and Local Government Circular 01/94. Paragraph 29
“A caravan within the curtilage of a dwelling house may have a number of ancillary uses for which planning permission would not be required. For example, it could be used for additional living accommodation, provided that it remained part of the same planning unit as the dwelling house and the unit remained in single family occupation.”
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘Planning Guide for Householders’
“Planning permission is needed if you want to divide off part of your house for use as a separate home (for example, a self- contained flat or bed-sit) or use a building or caravan in your garden as a separate residence for someone else.”
A mobile home can be used in a garden without planning but you will need to justify how the use of the caravan supports the use of the house and how it will not become a separate or independent dwelling. For example the people who sleep and wash in the mobile home will use the cooking facilities of the main house. The structure must also be located in the actual garden, not surrounding land.
Example Informal Letter
EXAMPLE Letter to council seeking confirmation on informal basis
[FULL ADDRESS OF THE PROPERTY]
I am proposing to station a mobile home in the garden of my property above. A location plan is attached with the property edged red.
I understand I do not need planning permission to station a mobile home and would be grateful to receive your confirmation.
The mobile home would be stationed within the curtilage of my house.
The mobile home would be a [type of caravan proposed] which would come within the definition of a caravan in terms of its design, mobility, size and construction.
The mobile home would be placed on the land and would not be fixed to the ground.
The mobile home would be used for [an annexe by a family member(s) / additional bedrooms / guest accommodation / staff accommodation / hobbies] as an integral part of the overall use of the house as a single dwelling. It would share services, facilities and access with the house.
I believe the proposed use would not be a material change of use and would be incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house.
If you have any questions, please contact me. Otherwise, I look forward to receiving your confirmation.
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