APPLICATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF LAWFULNESS OF PROPOSED USE
SECTION 192 TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990
USE OF LAND TO SITE A MOBILE HOME AT —- Site Address
- This application is for a Certificate of Lawfulness for a proposed use under section 192 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) to site a mobile home within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse known as “NAME” for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such.
- The “NAME” is a four bedroom house which is owned and occupied “NAME”), their children and two dogs. The property is detached and set within a good sized garden. Beyond the upper garden is a fenced lower rough lawn area which is shown edged blue on the application plan.
- The applicants propose to site a mobile home within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which “NAME” parents will move into. The mobile home will be a granny annexe providing ancillary accommodation so enabling the three generations of the family to live together and support one another now and in the future.
- This statement in support of the application sets out the factual and legal basis upon which the certificate is sought.
- THE PROPOSAL
- The mobile home would be used by the applicant’s parents, “NAME”, while the applicants would remain in The “NAME” but would like to be closer to their daughter and her family as they move towards their eighties, so they can receive care and assistance in due course. “NAME” suffers from a long-term permanent physical medical condition, long-term asthma and has recently been diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis.
- The “NAME” have already downsized from a 5 bedroom house to owning a 50% share in a semi-detached three bedroom house. They now require a single-level property. The applicants wish to take responsibility for caring for their elderly relatives and do not want to wait until they are too frail to make the difficult and stressful decision to move to the appropriate suitable single-level property. The applicants have already had first-hand experience of how stressful this can be when “NAME” parents both suffered such declines within a year of each other. This is why they decided to relocate from Buckinghamshire to be closer “NAME” parents.
- The applicants are self-employed with an online business which mostly operates from the main house and visits to clients. This means the applicants are generally at home during the daytime and as such will be available to provide assistance to “NAME” during the day, including preparing meals for them, attending hospital appointments with them and carrying out other day to day activities when required. “NAME”, although requiring assistance, are still relatively mobile and currently help the applicants with childcare. The applicants have two pre-teenage daughters and Mr and Mrs “NAME” help with the school run to and from the girls’ school and with after school activities. By living in the mobile home at “NAME” will be better able to assist the applicants with childcare without the need to drive to and from their property in “NAME”.
- Although the house at The “NAME”, which has four bedrooms could, in theory, accommodate “NAME”, in reality there isn’t sufficient room to accommodate them on a full-time basis within the house, particularly when ground floor accommodation is going to be required. The applicants use their spare room to run their business. Already accommodating two adults, two children, two dogs and a home-office, the house would be extremely cramped if “NAME”were to move into “NAME” long-term medical condition also requires separate bathroom facilities being available. The proposal would allow each family to live in very close proximity but maintain some privacy and space.
- The intention is that “NAME” would sell their house and use their 50% proceeds, to move into the mobile home as soon as possible. The families would share the majority of meals together; share laundry facilities; work together on the vegetable patch; and maintain and enjoy the rest of the garden together. The kitchen facilities in the mobile home would allow for basic needs.
- The mobile home would not be functionally separate from the main dwellinghouse. It would not be rented out or sold off separately. The applicants would be willing to enter into a Section 106 Agreement tying the mobile home and the main dwelling together to ensure that there could never be two separate planning units.
- There would be no physical separation between The Brambles and the mobile home and no creation of a “curtilage” around the mobile home. The mobile home would be located on the site of the existing tool shed. Beyond the tool shed is a wall and gate leading to an area on which there are concrete slabs and wooden buildings which previously housed pet goats kept by the previous owner.
- The electricity, central heating and water would not be separately metered and the mobile home would not have its own separate postal address. The planning unit would therefore remain intact. The tool shed is already connected to electricity and water which comes from the main dwelling. The mobile home would simply use this connection.
- The mobile home would be sited within the curtilage of “NAME”, in the position marked on the attached plan. It would be sited approximately 35 metres from the closest elevation of “NAME” which is marked on the plan as “11”. Photographs of the garden of “NAME”and the location of the proposed mobile home are shown at Appendix A.
- “NAME” is a good sized four bedroom dwelling with a proportionately large curtilage within which is a lawn, garage, tool shed, bike shed, raised fish pond, arbour, vegetable plot, polytunnel as well as the ramshackle building which previously housed pet goats. There are three large trees and leylandii hedging on the western boundary with the neighbouring property. The garden is fenced to the south and beyond this is a large area of grass which is mainly mown, although one part is kept as a wildlife friendly area. There is no statutory definition of curtilage and whether or not land is within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse will always be a question of fact and degree. The question of what amounts to “curtilage” is covered in sections 3.9 and 3.10 below.
- Although the mobile home is designed so that it can afford the occupiers the ability to live semi-independently by providing a kitchenette and washing facilities, the ability for someone to live semi-independently within the mobile home does not prevent the proposed use by the applicant and his wife from being incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwellinghouse as such. Indeed to meet the definition of “caravan” under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1968, a caravan must be fit for human habitation. To be fit for human habitation, a caravan must meet the British Standard 3632:2005 which requires mobile homes to have a bathroom or shower room, living space, space for meals, bedroom(s), and kitchen. However, the fundamental point is that it is the intended use that is key to determining this application, rather than the potential for the use to be occupied as a self-contained residential unit. The intended use is for the applicants’ parents/in-laws to live at “NAME” (but not in the house itself) together with their family as one family unit.
- The mobile home is intended to be constructed by Ecomobile Homes. The details of the mobile home including the measurements, specification and method of construction of the mobile home are shown at Appendix B. The method of construction to be employed, measurements and proposed method of transportation of the mobile home mean it would fall within the definition of a “caravan” under the relevant legislation (dealt with in section 3 below).
- The mobile home would be transported in sections by lorry and brought into the garden of “NAME”. The lorry would be able to access the site of the proposed mobile home by using the licenced right of access located at the southern end of the lower lawn. Once assembled into two divisible sections they would then be placed in position and then finally bolted together as a complete unit. In the case of Byrne v Secretary of State for the Environment and Arun District Council  74 P. & C.R. 420, it was held that:
“Though the Park Home was delivered by lorry in many pieces, I see no requirement in section 13(1)(a) that the process of creating two separate sections must take place away from the site on which they are joined together. It is necessary only that the act of joining the two sections together should be the final act of assembly.”
- The mobile home can therefore be delivered in several pieces but it will need to be constructed in two sections before finally joining the two sections together. Provided it meets the definition of a “caravan” as set out in section 3 below, then the mobile home will not involve operational development. Ecomobile homes can be transported on HGV trailers in the same way as most commercial mobile homes.
- The mobile home would rest on two courses of blocks on top of a concrete slab. This means that it would not be physically attached to the ground and could be removed without difficulty if there was no longer a requirement for the mobile home at “NAME”. The concrete slab and block work on which the mobile home would stand would not require planning permission because they are not permanent structures and the siting of them would not involve building or other operations. The area on which it would be sited is level ground (in the place of the existing tool shed) and accordingly no engineering works would be needed in order to place a concrete slab in this location. Appeal decision ref: APP/J1915/X/11/2159970 shown at Appendix C indicates how the Planning Inspectorate has previously considered the issue of whether the base on which a mobile home is sited is operational development. In that case the Inspector concluded that the base on which the mobile home was to stand would not be a building operation and, in any event, it would otherwise be permitted development under Class F of Part 1 to Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).
- Once in place the mobile home would be accessed from “NAME”, through the garden of the “NAME”. There is sufficient existing parking at the front of the “NAME” for the applicants’ parents-in-laws to park their car. No additional parking would be necessary and no dedicated vehicular access to the mobile home would be required or is intended. The access at Leeches Close to the lower lawn area is by an annual licence with Yarlington Housing Group and as such can be revoked at any time. It is only used to access the lower lawn and is never used by “NAME”to access the upper garden as there is no existing track.
- If the mobile home was no longer required it could be sold-off and removed from the property.
- Although not a relevant consideration for the purposes of determining a certificate of lawfulness application, the location of the proposed mobile home would be mainly out of view, at ground level, from the residents of the surrounding properties, both in “NAME”. The new mobile home could also be described as a more attractive building than the present tool shed and some of the outside buildings in surrounding properties.
- LEGAL BASIS FOR THE APPLICATION
Operational development or use of land?
- Section 55(2)(d) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that “the use of any buildings or other land within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such” does not involve development of land.
- The stationing of a mobile home/caravan (as long as it meets the criteria set out in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and the Caravan Sites Act 1968) involves the use of land rather than operational development. Provided that the land on which the mobile home is sited is within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse and the use of the mobile home is for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwellinghouse, then the use of the mobile home will not involve development requiring planning permission.
- By virtue of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule to the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 the mobile home will not require a site licence as it would be within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse.
Definition of Caravans
- Section 29(1) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 defines a caravan as:
“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:
- any railway rolling stock which is for the time being on rails forming part of a railway system, or
- any tent.”
- Section 13(1) of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 further defines a caravan as:
“A structure designed or adapted for human habitation which:
- is composed of not more than two sections separately constructed and designed to be assembled on a site by means of bolts, clamps or other devices; and
- is, when assembled, physically capable of being moved by road from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer),
shall not be treated as not being (or not having been) a caravan within the meaning of Part 1 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 by reason only that it cannot lawfully be moved on a highway when assembled.”
- Section 13(2) of the 1968 Act sets out the maximum dimensions for “twin unit caravans”:
- length (exclusive or any drawbar): 20 metres
- width: 6.8 metres
- overall height of living accommodation (measured internally from the floor at the lowest level to the ceiling at the highest level): 05 metres
- The words “caravan”, “mobile home” and “park home” are used interchangeably. As such, a mobile home (such as the mobile home proposed for this site) still falls within the definition of a “caravan” provided that it meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6 above.
- In short, the mobile home must provide habitable accommodation; it must be no larger than the dimensions set out in the 1968 Act; and it must be capable of being moved by road in two sections. It is this mobility that prevents the mobile home from being a structure requiring planning permission.
Curtilage of the main dwellinghouse
- The extent of land that comprises the curtilage of any particular dwellinghouse will always be a matter of fact and degree. One of the leading authorities on curtilage is Sinclair-Lockhart’s Trustees v. Central Land Board (1950) 1 P&CR 195 in which it was held that:
“The ground which is used for the comfortable enjoyment of a house or other building may be regarded in law as being within the curtilage of that house or building and thereby as an integral part of the same although it has not been marked off or enclosed in any way. It is enough that it serves the purpose of the house or building in some necessary or useful way.”
- In determining the extent of the curtilage one must examine the factual matrix in each case. A site visit is to be recommended rather than determining the extent of curtilage by way of desktop exercise. In many cases, particularly in built up areas, a domestic garden serving a dwellinghouse will be the same area as the curtilage of that dwellinghouse. However, this will not always be the case where the gardens are particularly extensive. For example, a property such as Montacute House will have a curtilage that is smaller than the full extent of its gardens. In determining whether land is within the curtilage of a building regard should be had to a) physical layout; b) ownership, past, and present; and c) use or function, past and present.
- The Court of Appeal in Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport, and Regions v Skerritts of Nottingham (2000) JPL 789 held that :
“The curtilage of a large building was likely to extend to what were, or had in the past been, in the context of ownership and function, ancillary buildings.”
- In the case of Lowe v First Secretary of State and another  EWHC 537 (Admin) it was held that
“The expression “curtilage” is a question of fact and degree. It connotes a building or piece of land attached to a dwellinghouse and forming one enclosure with it. It is not restricted in size, but it must fairly be described as being part of the enclosure of the house to which it refers. It may include stables and other outbuildings, and certainly includes a garden, whether walled or not. It might include accommodation land such as a small paddock close to the house.”
- In this particular case, the location of the proposed mobile home is in close proximity to the main dwelling relative to the size of the dwelling and garden. The garden is a good size but it is not particularly extensive. There are no enclosed areas within the garden other than at the southern end of the garden which divides the upper garden from the lower lawn and wildlife area. The land has been used in this way for as long as the applicants’ parents remember as they know the previous owner who had lived there for many years. The area of land on which the mobile home would be sited has historically held a very large tool shed and has been used and continues to be used for the enjoyment of the house as such. The nature and scale of the use of this land (both currently and historically), looked at objectively, indicate that the use is within the curtilage of and is reasonably incidental to the use of the dwellinghouse as such.
- The houses and gardens along Head Street are all different sizes and accordingly their curtilages are all different. One cannot necessarily determine the extent of curtilage for The Brambles by comparing it with neighbouring properties.
- Having regard to case law and the criteria for determining the extent of curtilage the applicant considers that curtilage comprises the whole of the garden serving The Brambles.
Use of land within the curtilage for incidental purposes
- The meaning of the word “incidental” has been examined by the Courts. In Whitehead v SSE and Mole Valley D.C.  JPL 561, a housekeeper’s self-contained accommodation in a barn outbuilding was held to be incidental in relation to the overall owner’s needs.
- There has been a number of planning appeal decisions confirming this approach. Of note is a fairly recent appeal decision for a site in Esher, Surrey (reference: APP/K3605/X/12/2181651) in which the Planning Inspector determined that a mobile home sited within the curtilage of the main dwellinghouse for the purposes of providing ancillary staff accommodation would be lawful. He therefore granted a certificate of lawfulness for proposed use. The appeal decision is included at Appendix D.
- In the case of Uttlesford District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and White  J.P.L.171, a self-contained residential unit created by the conversion of a garage, sited at the end of a garden, and used by the applicant’s mother was considered by the High Court to be incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such. There had not been a creation of a separate planning unit. The fact that the accommodation had a bedroom, bathroom, lavatory, small kitchen, somewhere to sit and a separate front door did not, in law, create a separate planning unit simply because these facilities afforded a degree of independence.
- The use of the mobile home would be incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwellinghouse as such because the whole area would remain as a single family occupation. There will be interdependency between the applicants and “NAME” rather than the creation of an independent unit.
- The proposed mobile home, by virtue of its size, method of construction and mobility would fall under the definition of a “caravan” and would not constitute operational development. The siting of it within the curtilage of The “NAME” would be for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such and would not constitute development.
- The concrete slab and block work on which the mobile home would be placed could be dismantled should it be required. Placing a concrete slab on the site would not involve building or engineering works requiring planning permission.
- The proposed use of the mobile home is to provide ancillary accommodation for the applicants’ parents/in-laws. The intention is very much for the main dwellinghouse and mobile home to stay in the same occupation and as part of the same planning unit. The siting of the mobile home for Mrs Routh’s parents will not create a separate planning unit, notwithstanding the fact that the mobile home will have some of the facilities for independent day to day living. This approach is supported by case law.
- For the reasons set out above, and having regard to the case law and recent appeal decisions, it is respectfully submitted that the Council should grant a certificate of lawfulness for the proposed use.