Q & A 24.1/10
How long does a mobile home have to be in situ before it will be considered immune from enforcement action?
The ten-year rule applies to residentially occupied mobile homes. The four-year rule would only operate if the mobile home were considered to be an operational development i.e. if size or degree of attachment to the land gave it the characteristics of permanency.
Temporary permission for a residential caravan was granted for a six month period from April to October 2002. In May 2002 an LDC application in respect of the same use was refused. Is it possible to make an application for an LDC at a time when the use applied for is temporarily lawful? Secondly, if the temporary permission would have effectively regularized the breach of control would a new breach and a new ten year time period commence upon expiry?
An application under sec 191 of the 1990 Act to determine the lawfulness of an existing use relates to the position on the date that such an application was made. Therefore in May 2002 the stationing of this caravan was lawful by virtue of the temporary permission and I would have thought that a certificate would strictly have to be issued in those terms. However, it may have been possible for an application under sec 192 for a certificate of proposed use to cover this situation. In this case application could be made for the siting of the caravan as from November 2002, but I do not have any case evidence to endorse the legal acceptability of such an approach.
As to the other point that you raise, there is court authority for the proposition that a fresh breach of control would occur after the expiry of the limited period permission on the basis that a new chapter in the planning history of the site had begun. It would then be open for an LPA to enforce against breach of the limited period condition, a new set of circumstances entirely.
Many years ago unconditional planning permission was given to change the use of land from a disused gravel pit to a caravan site. About half of the area was taken up by various sized lakes. The original owners implemented the permission but operated only a small caravan site on land nearest a road. A subsequent owner installed caravans over the remaining area, the siting and numbers of which were restricted only by the site licence conditions. However, recent owners have carried out earth moving and filled in the shallower margins of one of the lakes with the presumed intention of moving even more ‘vans onto the newly created land. They have been informed that the earth moving constitutes an engineering operation and have been invited to submit an application for retrospective planning permission. However, is another permission needed to cover any additional caravans on the new land on the basis that the original permission could not have applied to land which did not exist at the time it was issued?
Any intensification of the number of caravans on a site where there is no planning condition specifying a limit is only controllable to the extent of the licensing conditions available under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. These controls are primarily concerned with layout and facility matters. In this case, as you say, the filling in of part of one of the lakes would almost certainly constitute an engineering operation. However, I am not too sure of your argument that the original permission could not extend to areas which were water covered when it was issued. I have in mind the fact that the courts have ruled that the definition of "land" includes land covered by water. However, it is difficult in these columns to give a definitive answer due to the complexities of the planning history of the site and of the relative legislation.