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Protected sites

This content applies to England

Information on protected sites.


A site licence is required for land which is a ‘caravan site’. A protected site has a site licence (and planning permission) which:[1]

  • is not granted for holiday use only, or
  • does not prohibit the stationing of mobile homes/caravans for human habitation at certain times of the year.

A site licence may be granted for mixed use, ie for both residential and seasonal/holiday use. In such a case, whether a mobile home is on a protected site will depend on the terms of the site licence. Where the licence:

  • restricts residential occupation to a part of the site, the mobile home must be stationed in that part to be on a protected site[2]
  • does not specify which parts of the site are to be used for residential occupation, any mobile home stationed on that site with an agreement for year-round residence will be on a protected site (although the site owner could be in breach of her/his licence if the number of year-round residence agreements granted exceeds that allowed under the terms of the site licence)[3].

Applications and licence conditions

A local authority can refuse to issue a licence.[4] When making its decision about whether to award a new licence, or consent to the transfer of an existing licence, the authority must have regard to any matters prescribed in regulations, including with respect to:[5]

  • a new/proposed licence holder:
    • her/his ability to comply with the conditions of the site licence
    • whether s/he has the finance in place to manage the site
    • is s/he, or any person nominated to manage the site, competent to do so.
  • an existing licence holder (when a transfer is sought):
    • whether any action has been taken, or are proposed, in relation to the licence conditions
    • whether s/he owes the local authority any money in connection with the licence.

The local authority can:[6]

  • charge an annual fee for the issue of a site licence
  • attach such conditions to the licence as it deems necessary or desirable.


A site operator can be prosecuted for operating without a site licence or to failing to comply with a licence condition.[7]

As an alternative to prosecution a local authority can serve a compliance notice on the site operator ‘if it appears’ that s/he is not complying with a licence condition. The site operator can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) against the issuing of a notice or the conditions set out in it. The site operator can be prosecuted if s/he fails to take the steps specified in the compliance notice within the period provided.[8]

Displaying licence

The conditions of the site licence should be displayed on the site in a 'conspicuous place'.[9] If they are not, a resident of the site can obtain them from the local authority. The site licence conditions are not enforceable directly by the resident and the local authority's assistance will be required.

Planning permission

Planning permission is required for any material change in the use of land (subject to exceptions). The parking of a mobile home on land is normally treated as a change of use of land. Planning permission is deemed to be granted for certain temporary or occasional uses of land for the siting of mobile homes - the uses designated are those for which a site licence is not required.

If there is a breach of planning permission, the local planning authority may serve an enforcement notice and failure to comply with a notice is punishable by a fine. The local planning authority must serve the enforcement notice on the site operator and occupier, and the occupier or site operator can appeal the notice. The local planning authority has the power to enter on to land in cases of non-compliance and can remove mobile homes constituting an unauthorised mobile home site.[10]

When a site licence is not required

In the following cases, a site licence is not required, and so there is no protected site:[11]

  • where a mobile home is situated within the curtilage of a dwelling house and use of it is incidental to the enjoyment of that dwelling house
  • travelling caravans stationed for up to two nights
  • use of undeveloped land of not less than five acres (or less if stipulated in a government statutory instrument) where the land has not been used by more than three caravans and for no more than 28 days in the last 12 months
  • use of land as a caravan site by exempted organisations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
  • use of land as a caravan site on agricultural land used by seasonal workers in agriculture and forestry
  • mobile homes stationed on building and engineering sites
  • use of land as a caravan site for travelling showmen
  • sites occupied by the licensing authority.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.5 Mobile Homes Act 1983; s.1 Caravan Sites Act 1968.

[2] Berkeley Leisure Group Ltd v Hampton [2001] EWCA Civ 1474.

[3] John Romans Park Homes Ltd v Hancock and others [2018] UKUT 249 (LC).

[4] s.3 Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 as amended by s.2 Mobile Homes Act 2013.

[5] Mobile Homes (Site Licensing) (England) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/442.

[6] s.5 Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and s.5A Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 as inserted by s.1(3) Mobile Homes Act 2013.

[7] ss.1 and 9 Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

[8] ss.9A and 9B Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 as inserted by s.4 Mobile Homes Act 2013; Shelfside (Holdings) Ltd v Vale of White Horse DC [2017] UKUT 259 (LC).

[9] s.5(3) Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

[10] Midlothian DC v Stevenson [1985] (unreported).

[11] paras 1-11a Sch.1 Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

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