Q & A 24.8/10
I have a mooring on the Thames. The boat has been at this mooring for over ten years and is in residential use. Will I now get planning permission?
A "houseboat" is treated in much the same way as a caravan in planning law. Therefore, if you can show with evidence that the houseboat has been continuously occupied for residential purposes at the mooring for more than ten years, there will be immunity from enforcement. This enables you to apply to the council for a Lawful Development Certificate, which may be more advantageous to you than planning permission as no conditions may be applied.
What is the situation regarding the need for planning permission for the replacement of houseboats. If a houseboat is replaced by a larger one, does this constitute development?
The position is similar to that of the siting of caravans, which because of their characteristics of mobility are considered to constitute a material change of use of land. The courts have held that "land" may include land covered by water. However, if a houseboat is moored or attached to the bank in such a way as to suggest permanency it may be that operational development will have taken place. As to the question of replacement by a larger boat, it is unlikely that a material change of use will be considered to have occurred, especially if the area of water occupied is not significantly greater. You may find it useful to refer to section (24.8) in Development Control Practice where there is specific commentary on the subject of houseboats.