Established use for a caravan - can it be restricted to holiday usage?

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    Established use for a caravan - can it be restricted to holiday usage?

    Planning are suggesting the planning usage for a particular site has been abandoned. It would seem that there are no hard and fast rules and abandonment cases are decided on the facts. Informed thoughts on this rather unfortunate history anyone?

    The info on the house is background - although I am interested in that, it is the static caravan I am particularly interested in.

    Owner buys land with house in National Park in 1980s.
    House is burned down by Sons of Glyndwr (welsh nationalists)..
    They spend 6yrs rebuilding.
    As soon as it is finished it gets burned down again by same people in early 90s.
    They can't afford to rebuild and place a static caravan in the garden.
    In 2006 they are granted a certificate of lawful development in respect of the static caravan - occupancy restricted to March - October.
    In 2009 application for permitted development for the house is refused - too derelict and considered abandoned. Not appealed.
    September 2011 an intruder burns down caravan (believed to be an accident caused by a candle).
    Caravan removed about December 2011 leaving hard standing, electric supply, well, septic tank.
    Removed from council tax register with effect Sep 2011.
    Owners are elderly and decide not to replace caravan - they put the property on the market in July 2012.
    Sale agreed in spring 2013 but planning suggest to buyer that usage of caravan has been abandoned - sale falls through.

    It strikes me that the argument for abandonment is pretty weak. The caravan has been removed for reasons beyond their control and then, half way through the first occupancy period post it's destruction, they have marketed it as land a caravan site.
    Any ideas?
    Assume I know nothing.

    I would agree that the abandonment argument is weak, but so much depends on the cost of this land and what prospects there are for a successful counter argument that could lead to an appeal against a refusal of permission before a Planning Iinspector that doesn't cost as much as an appeal to a court for a ruling.

    I looked at this web site for guidance:

    I then clicked on the link on the first page to an article written by Saira Kabir Sheikh that set out the relevant case law.
    You should read that article, which is in PDF format so can be printed out for perusal off-screen.


      Thanks for that. Very helpful. It is an awfully murky area of planning law, isn't it!

      It would seem that intention is a significant consideration but not conclusive. But this is very positive:

      In Hartley Lord Denning MR said that “[a]bandonment depends on circumstances”
      and that those circumstances were to be ascertained by the (familiar) “reasonable
      man”. Widgery LJ considered that a use had been abandoned rather than merely
      suspended when it had “ceased with no intention to resume it at any particular time.”
      A tension between subjective and objective criteria in the two judgments is obvious
      and persists in the case law.
      It was accidentally destroyed in mid Sep 2011. The existing certificate of lawful use prohibits occupation end Oct - March. And then within a couple of months of that period it was on the market for sale as a site. I think it would be hard to argue reasonably that the use had ceased with no intention for use to be resumed at any time. But I also suspect planning might well try anyway!

      I even wonder whether, on their evidence, there may be a (less convincing) argument to reinstate the house.

      Price wise, I think it is probably worth the risk and the vendors seem very prepared to assist with enquiries prior to exchange, so that may eliminate the risk altogether.
      Assume I know nothing.


        What could be helpful is a letter from the vendors stating that after rebuilding the cottage after the first fire they were unable to insure it after they rebuilt it because of the huge premium demanded.
        That was why they continued to use the land for residential purposes by locating a low-cost caravan on site when the second arson attack burnt down the cottage.

        That residential use of the land continued until the more recent accidental damage meant they had no funds at all to reinstate the lawful use of the land. The planning use of all the land continued as residential use even when a caravan provided the accommodation.

        It does not seem credible that the LPA can argue that abandonment has been proven because the financial constraints on the current owners meant they did not immediately replace the caravan in 2011, 2012 or 2013.
        People save up for a far longer period than two years if they want to redevelop valuable land they own.

        Perhaps the letter could conclude by stating that if they had won the Lottery, which they regularly bought tickets for, they would have immediately contracted a local builder to re-build the cottage in order to resume use of the property as they "always" intended to do that if funds ever became available.

        Once you become owner that will be the argument you need to present to the LPA.
        You have funds so intend to take over the task that the elderly owners were unable to undertake.


          This is really helpful advice - thank you.
          I had started constructing a history from the information they gave me and this would seem to fill in some of the gaps I was struggling with.

          I have FOId the details of their application for lawful development in 2009 for the house to see what they argued then and why it was turned down. I don't think much was submitted - they don't appear to have had very good advice.

          But you are right - there has clearly been an intention to maintain residential within the curtilage. I'm not sure why the occupation limits were introduced in 2006 preventing occupation Oct-Mar. I should really FOI that too.

          (ETA: I FOI'd their pre app advice - not the application itself which is obviously public info.)
          Assume I know nothing.


            I think the removal from the council tax register is where they think they have you. I wonder if it would be possible to resume paying somehow?

            BTW, it's not possible the Sons of Glyndwr are now on the planning committee, is it?


              That had not crossed my mind!

              I wonder - you may be right about them feeling the council tax is a strong point. It is certainly not in my favour. But I don't think it conclusively shows an intention to end the use.

              I'm swinging between conservatively positive and very negative on this...
              Assume I know nothing.


                Maybe change your name by deed poll to something Welsh sounding before buying, and the council might be a lot more helpful.


                  Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                  Maybe change your name by deed poll to something Welsh sounding before buying, and the council might be a lot more helpful.
                  "Owen Glyndwr".

                  Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.


                    OK - so, planning have confirmed that they agree the site has not been abandoned.

                    Now I need to look into the terms of the lawful certificate which was granted after a caravan had been kept on the site for more than 10yrs.

                    The certificate is worded such that it permits "placing on the land of one static caravan measuring 11.1m x 3.8m excluding the tow bar".

                    It would be more or less impossible to find a caravan of exactly those proportions so might that condition be unenforceable?
                    Planning guidance specifies that a static can be up to 20m x 6.8m. Should the certificate have granted change of use for the land rather than permission for that specific sized caravan?
                    Additionally, the hard standing upon which the caravan has been sited is much larger than the given dimensions.
                    Assume I know nothing.


                      If that was the wording used on the application for the LDC, then that is what the LDC would have stated.

                      You will need to verify the wording on the application before becoming more stressed than neccessary.

                      An application for confirmation that the lawful use of the land was a use under class C3 of the Use Classes order, even though the house was only there as foundations, would have asked the pertinent question that the LPA could then have answered.


                        Thanks for your reply. I have been sent a copy of the original application form by planning. There is no description of use whatsoever on it - the Application Details section is left blank except that a date has been provided for the commencement of use (04/1993). The only document listed as having been submitted with the application is the OS map - which shows the overall site but does not designate the caravan location. I have requested further info from the files but nothing seems to be on file.

                        The Lawful Certificate also limits usage to March-October incl. which seems strange as there is no mention of that being the pattern in which it was used either prior to or after the certificate was granted (indeed, the current owners are prepared to submit an affidavit confirming otherwise). Given that the caravan was placed there to continue usage previously provided by the twice destroyed house (which was a residence without conditions) I cannot work out where this condition has come from.
                        Assume I know nothing.


                          It would appear that the application was treated as a normal planning application that would have allowed conditions to be imposed by the LPA.
                          An application for an LDC is supposed to be considered as a matter of law regarding the use that the land was put to over a a certain period of time that was sufficient to show what was the lawful use.

                          If there had been a change of use from one use class to another, then after ten years no enforcement action can be taken, so that the use is then considered lawful such that an LDC should be issued confirming that use.

                          All of the land in a planning unit containing a house is in C3 use as residential land, not just the land within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse where certain permitted development can occur.

                          When the house burnt down and was replaced by a caravan the C3 use of the land remained the lawful use of the land and locating a caravan on that land my not have been development if the caravan remained as a mobile unit rather than a static unit.
                          Have a look at what Martin Goodall has written in a blog about the definition of curtilage, which compares a planning unit to the curtilage.

                          You may find his comments interesting as this guy claims that he is an expert in such planning matters.



                            Thanks again. I am actually subscribed to MG's blog and his various posts on curtilage were helpful in preparing a recent Application for a Lawful Cert on another project.

                            I get the impression that this application should never have been validated. Instead planning have used to it to add conditions which they were not entitled to add an the applicants were none the wiser due to lack of experience.
                            Assume I know nothing.


                              Established use for a caravan - can it be restricted to holiday usage?

                              A couple whose second home burned down put a caravan on the land and used it rather than rebuilding the house.

                              20 years later they were not allowed to rebuild the house (it was classified as abandoned) but were given a lawful certificate to keep the caravan as it has been there more than 10 years.

                              The lawful certificate limits the use to holiday usage as well as limiting the size. The council has already admitted that the size restrictions are unenforceable as long as the structure meets the definition of a caravan. Is the seasonal usage of the caravan a valid restriction - or was the established use simply for a caravan to be sited there?
                              Assume I know nothing.


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