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Planning Guidance for a Residential Annexe

Siting a park home or lodge for use as a residential annexe can be a fantastic way to avoid planning permission and may substantially increase the value of your property.  Below we have outlined some of the key factors, which specifically apply to park homes and lodges that you will need to adhere to:

Location

The lodge / park home must be sited in the curtilage of a house (the land immediately surrounding the house such as a drive or garden).

Use

The park home / lodge must be used by a family member or as guest accommodation and not rented as a private residence or business premises etc.

Structure

The structure of the park home / lodge must conform to the legal definition of a ‘caravan’.  All Omar Group’s park homes and lodges, although built to residential standard BS 3632, are legally defined as ‘caravans’ as they are built and transported on a chassis.

Caravans in Gardens - Overview of the Law

A ‘caravan’, regardless of whether it is a touring caravan or a BS 3632 residential park home or lodge, is regarded as movable personal property and there is no public law preventing one being kept in a garden.  There are however laws that regulate the use of land.

Siting a park home / lodge within the garden of a property does not require express consent, provided there is no ‘material change of use’. Gardens are to be used for the enjoyment of the main dwelling / house. If a park home / lodge is parked in a drive or sited in a garden and used by members of the household in connection with the house, or as extra accommodation for visiting guests, then provided the occupants continue to use the facilities of the house, the siting of the park home / lodge has not changed the ‘use’ of the land. If however a park home / lodge is sited in a garden and used as a business premises, separately rented or used as an independent home, with no relation to the main house, the local planning authority could decide that an unauthorised ‘material change of use’ has occurred and planning permission would be required.

In a nutshell; Omar Group park homes and lodges can be sited and used in a garden as a granny annex, without the need for planning consent, as long as there is no ‘‘material change of use’.

Legal References

  • The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Section 55(1)) defines ‘development’, which requires planning permission as: carrying out of building and other operations or making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.
  • Under Section 55(2)(d) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 the use of any buildings or other land within the curtilage of a dwelling house for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house as such is not to be taken to involve development of the land.
  • The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 Schedule 1. Cases where a Caravan site License is not required. 1. Use within curtilage of a dwelling house. 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.

Example informal letter to the council

Planning for park homes / lodges

If the park home / lodge is to be sited in your garden, quite often you don’t need planning permission, however, we do recommend you get a ‘Certificate of Lawfulness’ for peace-of-mind (this is like planning permission but you don’t need to submit plans).

If you’re looking to site a park home / lodge anywhere other than in your garden you will need to contact your local council for approval. This includes any agricultural land or woodland joined to your property. Approval is also needed for conservation areas and new build estates.

Siting a park home / lodge in your garden (up to 6.8 x 20m) falls under the same law as parking a touring caravan in your drive and normally falls within the primary use of the dwelling house. As long as the park home / lodge remains moveable and is not someone’s sole or primary residence, this will be acceptable, however, the use is important. There must remain a relationship between the main house and the park home / lodge (the people using the park home / lodge must also have use of the main house).

If the park home / lodge is just used for sleeping purposes by a family member, it is ancillary and you don’t need approval. However, if it is capable of being used as a separate residence, it is not. There must be an interaction between the two buildings that involves a significant degree of dependence on facilities provided from the main house. This means the people who stay in the building must also have access, or a relationship with / to the main house, such as they eat meals there, have belonging stored there, use the facilities etc.

Legal Planning Definition for ‘Caravans’ in the Garden

A ‘caravan’ (as defined in section 29 of the Caravan Sites & Control of Development) may be parked temporarily (in the same manner as a car) within the curtilage of a domestic property without the need for planning permission, unless there are limiting conditions applied when the house was built. Limiting conditions and restrictions are more commonplace in modern housing estates. 

A park home / lodge may also be used in a manner ancillary to the residential property; that is, in addition to the use of the house, but not as someone’s separate dwelling. You can use a park home / lodge as a granny annex for example, but it must not become an “only or main residence”. There must remain a relationship between the park home / lodge and the house (for example, meals taken in the house). Use the park home / lodge simply in the manner of an extra room / bedroom. Make sure the park home / lodge remains moveable.

*Check your property deeds for restrictions, especially on more modern estates or where the council has issued an Article 4 Direction – common in Conservation Areas.

Contacting the Council

We suggest, if appropriate to your situation, you write a letter like the one below to the Council. They will hopefully write back confirming planning isn’t required. We then suggest, armed with this reply, you go back to the Council and apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development for a Caravan.

Example Letter

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