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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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In 2004 we bought a guest house in the countryside. It consisted

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In 2004 we bought a guest house in the countryside. It consisted of two joined houses, two large concrete block pig units, and a caravan (which was at the time used for storage). The caravan had been on the site next to the pig units for at least 30 years and had presumably been lived in at one time.
We separated and sold each of the two houses (which formed the guest house) in 2006 and 2008 – retaining half the land on which the pig units and caravan are situated. (approximately half an acre).
We are situated 100 metres from the River Chet, so our LPA is The Broads Authority.
Are we entitled to live permanently in the caravan? – It has all modern facilities.
Have you contacted the local authority to ask them about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, and we do not want to. We have just come to the end of a long public inquiry which has resulted in us being told that we have until January to stop using the pig unit as dwelling. We moved in to what we call "the barns" in 2008 (having converted them in the preceding 3 years ). They claim - (and the inspector agreed) that we had only been living in it since 2010 and that we had concealed the change of use. We are now enemies having just spent £69000 fighting the case and need somewhere to live. The caravan is our best option if it is legal. They will be against it - so I need to know what the law says.

Thank you.
Unfortunately, The Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 prohibits the use of land as a caravan site unless the occupier holds a site licence issued by the local authority. In your case, you intend to live in the caravan permanently and will therefore require a site licence I am afraid if you wish to reside in the caravan.
You would also require planning permission for the caravan but as it has been there for 30 odd years, such permission should not be necessary.
Please see here for the above Act
May I help further?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I do not want a caravan site just to be able to live in the one that has been there for over 30 years. Presumably I can use it to sleep in sometimes for a period of time.
The Act still applies I am afraid.
You may take a risk and sleep in it from to time but if someone reports it to the local authority, you may be in trouble I am afraid.
There is an exemption in that
Use within the curtilage of a dwelling as an extension of the accommodation is permitted but it seems that is not applicable in your case.
Hope this helps. Please leave feedback
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So if our next door neighbour who we sold the house to in 2008 (who has already bought some of the "pig unit land" (in 2011) bought more, to include the part which the caravan is on, then as part of "permitted development" we could then live in it? We know that she is desperate for us to stay on site, and in any case wants to buy as much of our land as possible.

If the house is reasonably close to the caravan site and you are able to argue that the caravan site forms part of the curtilage of the house, then you could be looking at an exemption if your neighbour were to purchase the land where the caravan is sited.
All the best. Please leave feedback
UKSolicitorJA and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The caravan is, and always has been, sited less than 50 metres from the house - we were the ones who in 2008 split the site in order to sell the house and yet keep the pig units and half of the garden (on which the caravan is sited). The house the pig units and the caravan all use the same septic tank system, and have done since 2005.

So if we sold the land to our neighbours is it your opinion that we would be able to live in the caravan full time?

I have done some further research into this and I am afraid it is not good news.
As your caravan will not be of incidental use to the main house and you are not part of the same family as your neighbour, you will not benefit from the exemption.
You may look at this guide for further information on what I have advised
I trust this answers your original query. Please leave feedback