Does a mobile home have to be mobile?

Disputes between caravan owners and local council planning officials over the status of mobile homes are something of a longstanding concern. Are these caravans mobile homes or developments?

Recently, in the Appeal of Sally Turner a lawful development certificate was refused by Canterbury council for siting a mobile home for use ancillary to the main dwelling. The issue was whether, on the balance of probability, the proposal would involve the carrying out of development as defined in section 55(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

A similar pattern can be found in BYRNE v. SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENVIRONMENT and ARUN [1997], where the Planning officer refused an application without visiting the site based on information provided by the applicant.

According to planning officers, in both cases the applicants failed the mobility test. Byrne lost his case in the High Court because his caravans were sited on two separate parts of the property, and they were almost impossible to move by jacking or by crane without damaging the caravan. The caravan must have the necessary structural integrity to be able to be moved, not just a methodology was the verdict from the judge.

However, Turner's appeal was successful because the caravan could be removed by jacking or by crane without damaging the mobile home.

In conclusion, as long as the size of the caravan falls well within the maximum size allowed for caravans by virtue of s13(2) of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 and the structure can rest on a site solely due to its own weight it can be deemed a mobile home, even though it has no wheels attached to it. The proviso being that it be able to be moved without damaging its structural integrity.

If you would like more information around such matters or any of our other sevices, please contact Frank Smith & Co Solicitors on 01242 801748 or visit

Comments are closed.