Erecting four camping pods without planning permission got a landowner into hot water with the planning authorities.

Martin Baddams installed the camping pods on his land in the New Forest National Park.  The Park Authority decided that the pods were buildings which required planning permission and issued an enforcement notice.

Mr Baddams appealed the Park Authority’s decision, claiming the pods were in effect caravans and therefore did not require planning permission. 

Each pod measured around four meters long and weighed 1.5 tonnes.  They had electricity, but no water supply.  Each had an inflatable bed, wall mounted heaters and basic kitchen appliances.  They were delivered by lorry and hoisted into place by crane onto a pre-installed concrete base.

The law defines a caravan as ‘any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted.’  In comparison, the Skerrits Test for whether a structure is a building considers its size, attachment to the land and degree of permanence.

The Inspector determined that the pods were in fact buildings.  He decided that their weight meant they were physically attached to the ground and that they had a degree of permanence as they had been in-situ for a number of years.

He concluded that they were not caravans.  He ruled that the provision of an electricity supply was insufficient to show they were adapted for human habitation, as this is also a common feature of many garden sheds.  He also considered that the inclusion of beds and kitchen appliances were not adaptions to the structure.

James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions, said:  “Professionals dealing with unusual structures, such as camping pods, need to take great care when advising on planning requirements.  Camping pods come in many different sizes and designs – some could be deemed a building and others not.  The same will be true for other non-standard structures.”

The Planning Inspectorate appeal decision has been published on its website.  Reports about the decision have been published by Wright Hassall and Rollits.

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