Do I need planning permission to keep a caravan in my garden?

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is a form of consent secured by developers and/or private individuals from a local authority for the erection, alteration or redevelopment of a particular plot of land or building.

Securing a planning permission is often mandatory where development of land is involved.

What is a caravan?

Under s 29 of the Caravan Sites and Control Development Act 1960, a caravan is any kind of structure built for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another.

To be classed as a caravan, the structure must not measure more than 20m in length, 6.8m in width, and the overall height of living accommodation (measured internally from the floor at the lowest level to the ceiling at the highest level) must not be more than 3.05m.

Under the Mobile Homes Act 2013, a ‘twin unit caravan’ is a structure designed or adapted for human habitation which:

  • is composed of not more than two sections separately constructed and designed to be assembled on a site by means of bolts, clamps or other devices; and
  • is, when assembled, physically capable of being moved by road from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer).

Do I need planning permission?

You do not need planning permission to park a caravan in your driveway or garden as long as it is being used as an annex of your home. This means it can be used as if it were part of the house (for example, an extra bedroom) by members of your immediate family or occasionally by friends but you can’t hire it out (for example, for holidays) or use it as a completely separate dwelling from your home.

You must also ensure that no new access is made to a trunk or classified road, or that an existing access is altered. Make sure also that your caravan is not obstructing any footway or road, or that the view of drivers or pedestrians using an adjacent road is not blocked, especially at or near a bend, corner or junction.

Even if planning permission isn’t required, you need to check your property deeds to ensure there aren’t any terms that limit or forbid the parking of a caravan in your own garden or backyard. This limitation is most common in urban housing estates.

You should also check Article 4 Directions issued by your local council which provide additional planning control in a particular location.

If the caravan becomes the main part or your only dwelling, you need to get planning permission from your local authority.

Types of planning permission

Detailed planning permission: also known as the full planning permission, a detailed planning permission is valid for five years from the date of its issue. This type of permission is advisable if you are decided about your property development or redevelopment.

Outline planning permission: this is valid for three years from the date of issuance. You can opt for this if you want to test the waters before you take the development or redevelopment of your property to full swing.

How to apply for a planning permission

  • Check with your city or town council if your project – keeping a caravan in your garden – would require planning permission.
  • Consult your neighbours about your plans regarding keeping a caravan in your garden, especially if it will be located near their property. It would be unwise if they will only find out about your plans through a letter from the council. You want your neighbours to be on your side once you begin your plans since they will be most likely affected by it.
  • Discuss your intentions about the caravan and its location with the council’s planning department. This department can provide you with guidelines on the structure and design associated with your location. The staff here can also advise you whether you should go for a detailed or an outline planning permission. Consulting these people will spare you from excessive costs and frustrations later on.
  • Forward your formal application for planning permission. You can either do this by post or online. You need to submit a completed application form, a plan of the site, and a copy of the sketches showing the proposed plan. The planning department will provide you an application form and furnish you information regarding the application fee and particular drawings required.
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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