Do I Need Planning Permission to Put a Static Caravan on My Land?

planning permission for static caravan in garden

Do I need planning permission to put a static caravan on my land…it’s a question that gets asked many times. The answer is as you would expect…it really depends.

In this article I will run through what scenario it is allowed and under what circumstances. I will also highlight situations where it is not allowed. I will also consider self builds, gardens and agricultural land.

Before we start, we need to understand the legal definitions that dictate the policies that we need to work with.

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What is the definition of planning permission?

The official definition of planning permission is defined in Section 55(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It is the “formal permission that must be obtained from a local authority before development or a change of use of land or buildings”. Therefore, the key point here is the word “development”.

Essentially, planning permission is determining whether you are allowed to do any development work. The outcome can either be granted…possibly with some conditions attached…or refused.

Definition of a caravan

The definition of a caravan in law is defined by the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, Section 29. It states as follows;

“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) 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 railway system, or (b) any tent.

The important thing to derive from this is that a caravan cannot be classed as a building and therefore cannot be developed.

Planning permission for static caravan in garden

Schedule 1 of The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 informs us “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 dwelling house within the curtilage of which the land is situated”.

Therefore, the interpretation of this means that the caravan must rely on the main dwelling in some way. Whether this means that the meals are taken in the house or the shower is taken in the house. Either way, the house must be used for some activity.

Essentially it is saying that the caravan can be used for whatever reason, as long as it is not independent of the house.

The “curtilage” of the land is classed as your drive and garden in this case. It does to extend to other land.

In this case, there has been no material change of use of the land. Therefore, no planning permission is required.

There would be a material change of use of the land if the caravan was “independent” i.e. it was not relying on the main dwelling. If you chose to rent it or ran a business from there, it would be classed as a change of use. In this case, you would need planning permission.

Planning permission static caravan agricultural land

If you wanted to put a static caravan on to agricultural land, you would need planning permission. That is the simple answer.

Any council would be wary of somebody placing a static caravan on a piece of land ‘temporarily’. They rightfully conclude, in their opinion, the expense would not justify a short-term placement.

If it is for a short period of time, then you can get away without planning permission. There are some exemptions that you need to pay attention too.

You can place the caravan on the land as long as it is incidental to the use of the land.

It needs to be pointed out that it is not the actual caravan that changes the use of the land, rather what the caravan is used for. If it is used to store supplies used for the land, there should be no issues.

Living in it is a different story.

You are legally entitled to stay in the caravan for 28 days without issue. You are also allowed to stay in it when it is related to the land. A good example is during lambing season, you may be required to be close all the time during that period. Outside of good reasons like this, there may well be issues.

This also applies to seasonal forestry workers and farm workers. You are entitled to house them on site while they work there.

Often you will find that planning officers work based on the ignorance of people and tell them that they need to apply for planning permission. In many cases, you don’t. It is always worth checking before you pay any fees to them as they can be very significant.

You are also allowed to site a caravan under the Health and Safety legislation. It can provide for toilet facilities, water and tea breaks, and somewhere to shelter out of the rain and cold. This is directed at employees but the fact is that you would also need access to those facilities too.

A word of warning though, do not be tempted to lay down patios or decking. As necessary as this may be, it gives the impression of permanence and your local council will see it that way. The impression you always give is one of a temporary nature.

Planning permission static caravan self-build

The simple answer is that it depends on your local council. In principle, you are allowed to place a static caravan on land where a build is taking place.

The caravan needs to be related to the build i.e. you are living there while the building takes shape. You cannot rent it out separately by taking advantage of this exception.

Councils do take differing positions on this so when you are getting planning permission, it is always best to include it on the application. There can be no issues later in that case as it was all agreed.

A word of warning, you are still expected to pay council tax even though you are living in the caravan. You may not be living in the house but you are still living on the land.

I hope this article on do I need planning permission to put a static caravan on my land was helpful. If you have any comments that you want to make, leave a comment below. It is always helpful to get other people’s opinions and experiences.

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do I need planning permission to put a static caravan on my land
Do I need planning permission to put a static caravan on my land

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Caravaner Team

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