Mobile homes: model standards for residential site licenses

Guidance to local authorities on site licence conditions for mobile home, park home or caravan sites which are licensed to have permanent residents.

Part 3 – Explanatory Notes On The Model Standards

1. Introduction

1.1. These Explanatory Notes should be read alongside the Model Standards for Residential Mobile Home Site Licences issued in 2018. They provide advice and guidance to a local authority on the Model Standards. These Explanatory Notes are not an interpretation of the law.

1.2. A local authority has a legal duty to have regard to the model standards. It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that any site licence conditions they set conform to the latest relevant legislation, regulations, codes of practice, and British and/or European Standards).

1.3. When framing licence conditions, care should also be taken to ensure compatibility with relevant requirements of equality legislation, including those relating to disability.

1.4. There are a number of organisations which can provide guidance and assistance to site licence holders. These organisations also provide training for site operators and managers, and their details are set out below.

  • British Holiday and Home Parks Association (
    Membership is made up of the owners and managers of mobile-home estates, touring and tenting parks, caravan holiday-home parks, chalet parks and all types of self-catering accommodation.
    Chichester House, 6 Pullman Court, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3ND. Telephone 01452 526911.
  • National Caravan Council (
    The NCC is a UK trade body for the tourer, motor-home, caravan holiday home and park home industries. Membership comprises manufacturers, dealers, distributors, holiday and residential park owners and managers, and suppliers and service providers to the industry.
    Catherine House, Victoria Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1SS. Telephone 01252 318251

2. Legal Background

2.1. Under section 29 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 a caravan is defined 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." This includes mobile homes. It does not include:

  • any railway rolling stock which is for the time being on rails forming part of a railway system, or
  • any tent.

2.2. Section 13 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 amended the definition of "caravan" so it includes those which come in no more than 2 sections and are assembled on site. Although they are unlikely to be moved once they have been put in place, under section 13 such a mobile home must remain "physically capable of being moved from one place to another".

2.3. The issuing of site licences is linked by section 3(3) of the 1960 Act to the existence of planning permission for the use of the land as a caravan site. A site licence can only be issued by a local authority if the applicant has planning permission to use the land as a caravan site.

2.4. Under planning legislation, mobile homes, as with any caravan, do not have the permitted development rights associated with dwelling houses or flats. Therefore any structure erected in association with a mobile home may require planning permission. Examples would include garages, sheds, verandas, decking, extensions including conservatories etc. In addition any fence, gate or wall, etc. exceeding 1 metre in height would also require Planning Permission.

2.5. Other activities on the site which are not associated with the use of the land as a mobile home site must not be permitted without separate planning authority consent for any such activity.

2.6. A Building Warrant is not required to create a caravan site itself or for the siting of individual mobile homes but it may be required in certain instances e.g. for the construction recreational buildings on the site, installation of any drainage system, the siting of oil storage tanks or construction of hard standings.

2.7. The operator of a caravan site may also be a duty holder with responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Generally, health and safety on residential sites is enforced by health and safety inspectors from the local authority. Care needs to be taken in drafting licence conditions to ensure that the local authority does not impose conditions for matters more properly dealt with under workplace (or other) legislation. The Health and Safety Executive publish lots of guidance on health and safety covering safety policies, risk assessments and specific matters on their website which might be brought to the attention of the site licence holder. Free confidential help and advice for businesses is provided by Health Working Lives. Free national advice helpline tel. 0800 019 2211

3. Number of Mobile Homes, Site Plans and Boundaries

3.1. The maximum number of mobile homes on a site is determined by the planning permission for the site and cannot be exceeded. However, conditions set by the site licence may reduce the number of mobile homes below that permitted by the planning consent. The maximum number of mobile homes that can be stationed on the site should be stated in the licence.

3.2. The boundaries of the site should be clearly delineated, both on the ground and on a site plan. Suitable marking of the boundaries might be by post and wire fencing, walls, indicator posts, or natural features. Where a site has mixed types of accommodation then the boundaries between each of these areas within the site should also be clearly marked.

4. Amenity and Privacy

4.1. The distance between any two units should generally not be less than 6 m. The density of mobile homes on a site must not exceed the density stated in the planning consent conditions, or if none is stated, 50 mobile homes per hectare of usable area (excluding lakes, watercourses, high flood risk areas, roads, common service areas, and other areas unsuitable for the siting of mobile homes).

4.2. Local authorities should be aware that the provisions of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 are also relevant to the issue of distance between units.

5. Roads, Gateways and Traffic Routes

5.1. Access to the site from the public highway must conform to the standards laid down by the local authority's Planning and Highways functions. Where a site has public roads the conditions in the site licence will need to reflect that some of the duties will be placed on the local authority.

5.2. Roads should be of sufficient minimum width at tight bends and junctions that the curve must have a minimum radius necessary for negotiation by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service vehicles, ambulances, waste collection vehicles, oil or gas delivery vehicles, and vehicles delivering or removing mobile homes. Roads should also be suitably constructed so that they can tolerate the additional weight of such vehicles.

5.3. Facilities (such as grit bins) should be provided to enable roads to be cleared of snow and ice.

6. Pedestrian Routes

6.1. A pedestrian route means the paths used by people to walk about the site safely. These foot paths may be at the side of site roads or across areas of the site between pitches. Paths may be constructed from paving, tarmac or similar materials. The site licence holder is responsible for providing a path to the hardstanding of each mobile home when the pitch is initially established but it is up to the pitch agreement to determine who maintains it thereafter to the boundary of the pitch.

6.2. Facilities (such as grit bins) should be provided to enable pedestrian routes to be cleared of snow and ice.

7. Bases and Hard Standings

7.1. It is important to note that the construction, maintenance and repair of the concrete base are the responsibility of the site licence holder. New bases should be laid as a minimum in accordance with the industry guidelines issued by the NCC and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association. The industry's current standard[5] for the bases provides:

"A hard core base to a minimum depth of 150 mm, well consolidated and topped with 100 mm of concrete (mix as BS8500-2:2006[6]) shall be used. The finished raft must be generally level with due allowance for surface drainage. Where the ground conditions so require, thickening or the introduction of reinforcement of the raft may be necessary."

7.2. While mobile homes build standards sit outwith the scope of the Scottish Building Regulations[7], concrete bases may be structures covered by building regulations.

8. Supply and Storage of Gas

8.1. Where gas is supplied on the site the site should comply with the most recent legislation and requirements. At the time of publication the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 as amended will generally apply. If there is a mains gas supply to the site the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 may also apply.

8.2. Any work carried out on any gas appliance, pipework or installation on the site must be carried out by a competent person. A competent person is a person registered with the Gas Safe Register and qualified to work on the type of gas appliance, pipework or installation. The qualifications of engineers can be checked on the Gas Safe Register website at and by looking at the registration cards carried by engineers.

8.3. The following organisations provide information which may assist with gas related matters, and you may wish to contact them for further details (and/or encourage site licence holders to do so):

  • The NCC Training Academy provides access to training courses for those who are seeking Gas Safe registration. Access to awareness training awareness training / advice on gas safety for site licence holders and operators is also available through the NCC Training Academy at
  • UKLPG is the trade association for LPG industry in the UK. Advice and information can be accessed on their website at
  • The NCC and the BHHPA publish advice leaflets on gas safety in residential park homes for both park operators and home owners. For more information visit or

8.4. Existing installations with buried metallic supply pipe work must be inspected by a competent person at regular intervals to ensure the pipes are not corroding. Alternatively any existing metallic pipe work should be replaced with non-metallic.

9. Electrical Installations

9.1. The British Holiday & Home Parks Association and the National Caravan Council have published a "Practical Guide to the Safety Management of Electrical Installations and Distribution on Parks". The objective of the Guide is to assist site licence holders and operators in the safe management, operation and maintenance of electricity supplies and distribution systems on residential, holiday and touring sites. It is important that those operating a site have a detailed knowledge of the electrical system (e.g. loading, cable sizing, protection against overcurrent and faults, earthing arrangements, switching and isolation etc.) and plans of all the cables, distribution and connection points on the site.

9.2. To ensure that the electrical installations on the site are safe, site licence holders should have in place a suitably robust system for maintaining the installation in a safe condition. This can be achieved, firstly, by carrying out regular visual examinations of the installation to detect damage or wear and tear that might lead to danger; and, secondly, by carrying out periodic inspections and tests to assess the condition of the system and determine what needs to be done to maintain it in a safe and serviceable condition.

9.3. It is the responsibility of the site licence holder to carry out any remedial works identified as being required by any of these checks. The routine visual examinations do not normally involve dismantling equipment and can be carried out by someone who has been instructed on what to look for. The more formal periodic inspections and tests should be carried out by a competent person. Regulation 16 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires persons to be competent to prevent danger and injury. Using a firm that is a member of an accredited registration scheme operated by a recognised body will give some degree of confidence that this has been achieved. In Scotland, this will usually mean that they are a registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), a member firm of the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland (SELECT), or a member of the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT). Alternatively, site licence holders should seek evidence of competence and have regard to the details provided.

10. Oil Storage Tanks

10.1. Generally oil used for heating is stored adjacent to mobile homes and the storage tanks are the property and responsibility of the resident unless the mobile home is rented out by the site licence holder. The licence holder should ensure through their tenancy agreements that oil storage tanks conform to the relevant British Standard.

10.2. In Scotland, oil storage is regulated by the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (as amended)[8]. SEPA is responsible for enforcing these regulations throughout Scotland.

10.3. New or replacement domestic oil tanks may require a building warrant from the local authority.

10.4. Detailed guidance on the required levels of fire protection for oil tanks sited near mobile homes can be found in the relevant British Standard.

10.5. If oil spillage occurs, contact must be made with SEPA through their Emergency Hotline Number: 0800 807060. SEPA can advise and may assist in the prevention of a pollution incident.

11. Water Supply

11.1. The licence holder must ensure that water supplied for drinking purposes conforms to the latest regulations. At the time of publication these are The Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2014 for public supplies, and The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 for private supplies.

11.2. Where water is supplied by Scottish Water, the site licence holder is wholly responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the water distribution network across the site from the point where it enters the site, i.e. the Scottish Water boundary valve or stopcock, until the connection point at each mobile home where an isolating stopcock should be located. The distribution network should be designed and installed in line with water industry best practice and plumbing within any connected mobile home should comply with the Scottish Water Byelaws.

11.3. The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS)[9] has developed a range of publications and other resources providing information relating to water supply regulations and Water Supply Byelaws. A water supply industry installation guide for the arrangement of water supplies in Holiday and Residential Parks can be downloaded, or obtained from WRAS, free of charge.

11.4. Where there is a private supply, the site licence holder is responsible for ensuring the safety of the water supplied to consumers within the boundary of the licensed site. Depending upon any particular local agreements for responsibilities within a shared private water supply system, the licence holder may have wider obligations to meet the requirements of the legislation.

11.5. Piped supplies to mobile homes need to be adequately protected against damage by frost. It is recommended that pipes are buried at least 750mm below the ground and are properly insulated at a lesser depth underground or rise above ground to connect to a mobile home.

11.6. Care should be taken to ensure there are no lead pipes, tanks or leaded pipe fittings within any water supply system.

11.7. All plumbing work should be carried out by a member of an Approved Contractors' Scheme, such as the SNIPEF (The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation)[10] or other WaterSafe scheme[11].

12. Drainage and Sanitation

12.1. The site drainage system comprises the pipework and associated infrastructure on the site designed to remove surface water and foul drainage. New drainage must be constructed to meet building standards regulations. Suitable arrangements should be taken to protect drainage pipes from mobile homes from frost or mechanical damage.

12.2. The site licence holder is wholly responsible for maintaining the drainage system. This includes the clearing of any blockages (including surcharges) between each mobile home and the point at which it connects to the public sewer. The site licence holder should ensure that drainage connections are properly capped off when a pitch does not have a mobile home on it, to prevent problems with pests and odours. Any septic tanks or treatment systems on a site must be specified, designed, installed and maintained to ensure effective operation. They must be approved by the local authority and be registered with SEPA.

13. Flooding

13.1. It is important that if a site is in an area susceptible to flooding, thatprocedures are in place to ensure that all those on the site are alerted quickly,and that they are aware of any evacuation procedures that may be in place. A notice must be prominently displayed with all relevant information. Advice on flood risks and flood resilience is available from the SEPA website. For advice on flood warning and signing up to receive alerts for your area, see:

13.2. The site must be included in any local authority flood evacuation plan. In parts of the country where flooding is an issue local authorities may wish to establish contact with the area Flood Advisor in SEPA.

14. Lighting

14.1. It is expected that site licence holders must provide and maintain electrical lighting throughout the site to enable visitors and residents to move around safely by road and footpaths. This would typically comprise suitable lighting columns along roadways and illumination around and within utility buildings used by residents. Lighting should be designed so that it does not cause a nuisance, e.g. shining into the windows of residents' homes.

15. Domestic Waste

15.1. It is important that appropriate arrangements are put in place for the recycling and disposal of waste from a site. Licence holders may wish to make residents aware of any local authority arrangements for the collection of bulky waste items and garden refuse.

16. Notices and Information

16.1. Relevant information should be on display in the site. This must include emergency contact details for the site licence holder or any site manager. Under section 5(3) of the 1960 Act a copy of the site licence must be "displayed on the land in some conspicuous place."

16.2. The intention of this condition is to ensure relevant information is made available or brought to the attention of those visiting or staying on the site. In some instances it may not be practicable to provide all of the information required in or on notice boards. Licence holders may therefore use other means to supply this information provided this is agreed with the licensing authority.

16.3. As a minimum the information required by conditions 42 (a) (b) and (c) must be displayed at all times. This is for the benefit of the emergency services.

16.4. It would be good practice for the licence holder to provide a copy of the site licence conditions to all residents on the site.

16.5. Note that significant additional structures or rearrangements to the site could comprise a material change to the site and would require an amended site plan.

16.6. Site rules should not contradict the implied or expressed terms of pitch agreements.

17. Site Maintenance

17.1. Under the 1960 Act compliance with the site licence conditions is the sole responsibility of the site licence holder. There will be conditions where site residents could be expected to have a role, such as in the maintenance of their pitches, matters relating to oil storage or checking if permissions are required for additions to their mobile homes. However, responsibility for ensuring that the site licence conditions are adhered to rests with the site licence holder.

17.2. Site licence holders should therefore ensure that new and existing mobile home owners are made fully aware of the site licence conditions. It may be appropriate to include compliance with any relevant site licence conditions as a condition of any written agreement for occupancy of a pitch. Site licence holders should ensure that any matters relating to the site licence conditions that they expect residents to attend to are made explicit in the written agreement.

17.3. It is expected that site licence holders will have detailed plans of the utilities and services associated with the site, and an organised system and plan for carrying out maintenance of the site. Such arrangements are expected to include plans to deal with emergency repairs.

18. Additional Structures and Alternations to Existing Structures

18.1. New structures on the site and buildings or structures undergoing a change of use, alteration or adaption must comply with relevant building standards regulations. Planning Permission may also be required, although work required by a site licence generally does not require planning permission, and any conditions complied with.

18.2. Local authorities should be aware that the provisions of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 may also be relevant to the issue of additional structures and alterations.

19. Rented Mobile Homes

19.1. In providing mobile homes for rented accommodation a site licence holder should ensure that they are complying with relevant legal requirements.

20. Parking

20.1. Parking requirements should reflect the reasonable needs of the residents, having regard to the size and layout of the site, the number of mobile homes, and the availability of public transport in the immediate vicinity. On sites for the retired and semi-retired consideration should be given to the ability to have family, friends, or home support visit easily.

Other Issues

21. There are a number of areas that are not covered in the Model Standards in Part 2, but which local authorities should be aware of in relation to site licence conditions in their area.

Land Stability

22. The site licence holder should establish whether the site is at risk from land instability or subsidence. Where there is risk from subsidence or land instability the licence holder should establish and maintain a plan to monitor the condition of the land and make a contingency plan to take appropriate action should there be any probable risk to residents.

Construction of Mobile Homes

23. Local authorities should note that under section 5(2) of the 1960 Act a local authority cannot attach a condition to the site licence controlling the types of caravans on a site by reference to the materials used in their construction.

Communal Recreation Space

24. Requirements relating to recreational or amenity space may be part of the planning permission for the site, and a local authority must reflect this in the site licence conditions. Any children's play areas must conform to the latest British and/or European Standards.

Public Liability Insurance

25. A local authority may wish to establish that a site licence holder has suitable insurance relating to the site.


Email: Diane Steele

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