If I buy a plot of land do I need planning permission for a caravan?

Property Clinic: US reader wants land, and a caravan to put in storage until she visits

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

I enjoy reading online from here in the US your articles on purchasing real estate. I am thinking of buying a small plot of land in Ireland to vacation on. I was thinking of getting a caravan and storing it until we visit from the US. Does Ireland have storage facilities for caravans where I can pay a yearly fee? Then I would take it out to the property and dry camp (no hook-ups).

Can you tell me whether I would require planning permission to do this? I am unfamiliar with Ireland’s laws regarding “structures” on properties, deed restrictions, etc. Do property deeds generally have restrictions on what can be done with the property (such as the minimum square footage of a structure) that follow with the deed, or allowing mobile homes or caravans, or is this something that the planning board decides?

Here in the US, the property deed lists all the usage restrictions and all I need to buy property is a good realtor [estate agent]. They (and a title insurance policy) protect my interests. From what I have read on the internet, it seems that in Ireland, I need a solicitor to complete the sale. Is that correct?

Any guidance you can share is greatly appreciated.

You need to be careful with using a caravan without planning permission. For the purposes of camping, the planning acts provide for temporary use of any land for the placing of a caravan provided that:

1 Not more than one caravan shall be placed within 100m of another at any time.

2 No caravan shall remain on the land for a period greater than 10 days.

3 No caravan shall be used for the storage, display, advertisement or sale of goods or for the purposes of any business.

4 No caravan shall be placed on land within 50m of any public road unless the land is enclosed by a wall, bank or hedge, or any combination thereof, having an average height of not less than 1.5m.

You can store a mobile home on site on your own property for up to nine months without planning permission. This assumes it is in “dry-camp” mode and not connected to services. The planning regulations classify the keeping or storing of a caravan within the curtilage of a house as exempted development (no planning permission is required) provided that:

1 Not more than one caravan shall be so kept or stored.

2 The caravan shall not be used for the storage, display, advertisement or sale of goods or for the purposes of any business.

3 No caravan shall be so kept or stored for more than nine months in any year or occupied as a dwelling while so kept or stored.

In the interim there are many storage facilities available for storing the caravan when you are not here. Prices range from €12-€15 a week to €250-€300 for a six-month period. A simple google search will give you plenty of contacts to pursue. All appear to be purpose-built secure storage facilities but not all have heated/dehumidified storage conditions, hence the price range.

Putting a mobile home on any site for living purposes requires planning permission. So if in time you buy your own site you may wish to provide permanent services such as a waste treatment plant, electricity supply connection and perhaps connect to a water supply. In this instance it would be prudent to apply for planning permission for a temporary structure.

This will involve consulting with a suitably qualified planning consultant to make the application on your behalf. A consultation with the planner in the local authority for the area in which you buy is recommended and you can go along to that with your consultant. Check the websites of the relevant professional bodies for an architect, chartered building surveyor or chartered planning and development surveyor who specialises in domestic planning applications in the area in which you are interested in buying.

Matters to consider include neighbours and how they may react to the application, ground conditions and its suitability for a septic tank and percolation area should this be required and the availability of a local water supply or a well on site.

For the purpose of buying the site you will need legal advice from a solicitor. I also recommend that you appoint a professional local agent to acquire the site for you. They will be able to guide you through the process of buying a site in Ireland.

Pat McGovern is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland;scsi.ie

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