It ain’t necessarily so

Curtilage caravans which provide all the requirements for independent occupation must require planning permission, right? Not necessarily. Proving the case, an inspector has issued a certificate of lawfulness for the siting of a three-bedroom mobile home within the garden of a house in Essex (DCS Number 400-021-680).

The council’s mistake was to determine the application with reference to Class E of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO and conclude that the proposal would not constitute permitted development. The inspector considered that, when having regard to the factors of permanence and attachment, the mobile home would not meet the well-established definition of a building and Class E did not apply. Rather, it would fulfil the statutory description of a caravan.

The issue was whether there would be a use of land constituting development, the inspector explained. She recorded that under section 55 of the 1990 Act development includes the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. As set out in Wealden DC v SSE & Day the stationing of a caravan is not a material change of use; it is necessary to identify the purpose for which the caravan is sited and no development is involved if the use is incidental. In addition, the judge in Uttlesford DC v SSE & White [1992] considered that, even if the accommodation provided facilities for independent day-to-day living it would not necessarily become a separate planning unit from the main dwelling; it would be a matter of fact and degree.

Whilst the mobile home would contain all the facilities for independent living it would not be used in that way, the inspector noted. As described by the appellants, the use would be part and parcel of the main dwellinghouse use rather than ancillary to it. The mobile home would simply provide additional living accommodation for family members forming part of the same household. It would be positioned within the same planning unit as the dwelling utilising the same access and with no separate curtilage. The inspector determined that, provided the mobile home remained part of the same planning unit as the dwellinghouse and the planning unit remained in single family occupation and continued to function as a single household, no material change of use would be involved.

The inspector concluded that the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of the use of land to site a mobile home within the garden of the appeal property for additional living accommodation was not well-founded and that the appeal should succeed.

Further information on this subject can be found at section 24.61 of DCP Online.