Happy and free

Looking forward to the “happy and free Great British summer” predicted by the Secretary of State for Health it might be a good idea to gen up on the planning legislation relevant to caravans. Happily, we spotted a useful appeal case recently: in settling an argument as to whether the siting of static caravans on a site in Dorset would be lawful (DCS Number 400-029-263) the inspector recounted the relevant case law.  

The description of development as set out in the planning permission, the inspector noted, specified ‘touring caravans’. However, there were no conditions which restricted the number or type of occupation of the caravans permitted on the land. In order to weigh up the implications of this, he found it necessary to have regard to case law. Handkerchief on head (alright, we made that part up), the inspector set off on a tour through I’m Your Man Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment [1999], R (oao) Altunkaynak v Northamptonshire Magistrates Court & Kettering Borough Council [2012], Winchester CC v SSCLG [2013], Cotswold Grange Country Park v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014], Wood v SSCLG & the Broads Authority [2015], Lambeth LBC v SSCLG & Aberdeen Asset Management, Nottinghamshire CC & HHGL Ltd [2019], and Breckland District Council v Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Plum Tree Country Park Ltd [2020]

Having regard to the approach set out in Lambeth, the inspector decided that the starting point was to find “the natural and ordinary meaning” of the words used in the permission. The description of the development set out in the decision notice, he recorded, was “site for touring caravans”. Furthermore, the conditions attached to the permission referred frequently to touring caravans. Whilst there was no limitation in the description of the development as to how the caravans were to be used, planning permission was granted as a site for touring caravans only. Also, the conditions limited the use of the site to use as a touring caravan/camping site between 1 April and 30 September and stated that no unit should remain on the site for more than 14 consecutive nights. 

Accordingly, the inspector held that the natural and ordinary meaning of the wording of the permission, read in conjunction with the conditions attached to it, could only reasonably mean that planning permission was granted for a caravan site for touring caravans for holiday use. Consequently, the siting of static caravans for human habitation would fall outside the scope of what was granted planning permission.

There is a section on static caravan sites at 24.2 of DCP Online and on touring caravan sites at 24.3.