Mobile home lawful as an alternative to uninhabitable bungalow

In allowing an appeal against enforcement action alleging the unauthorised stationing and residential occupation of a mobile home at a bungalow in Yorkshire, an inspector accepted it as an alternative to the uninhabitable dwelling rather than a change of use.

The appellant contended that the mobile home did not require planning permission and there was no change of use as the mobile home had been sited and occupied in conjunction with renovation work on the bungalow.  The council, however, took the view that the dwelling had been abandoned and the site had a nil use such that the stationing of a caravan for residential  use constituted a material change of use. Having regard to the remarks of the judge in Hartley v MHLG [1970], the inspector agreed that from the state of the building a reasonable man might conclude that the previous use had been abandoned. However, measuring the evidence against the four criteria for abandonment laid down in Trustees of Castell-y-Mynach Estate v Taff-Ely BC, he considered that the appellant had not intended to abandon the residential use and a nine-year period of non-use was not sufficient to show abandonment.

In the light of this finding the primary use of the appeal site remained residential. Acknowledging the arrangement was unusual, it nonetheless seemed to the inspector that the mobile home had effectively been used as an alternative to the uninhabitable bungalow rather than functioning as a separate additional unit of living accommodation, and the character of the planning unit had not changed so that any question of whether the mobile home was incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling did not apply. He concluded that as a matter of fact and degree, the stationing of the mobile home for human habitation did not constitute a breach of planning control.

Inspector: David Brier; Written representations

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