UK: Getting Cabin Fever? Key Legal Issues For Landowners Providing Holiday Accommodation

Last Updated: 26 July 2018
Article by Victoria Lane

You don't have to venture far into the Scottish countryside to see signs of the glamping boom that has arisen in recent years. Among the traditional offerings of bed & breakfasts, country house hotels and camp sites, new breeds of accommodation – including eco-lodges, glamping pods, cabins, shepherd huts, tipis and wigwams – can be spotted. As many of these structures can be constructed quickly and easily, it is understandable that landowners with suitable ground might be keen to diversify and operate self-catering accommodation businesses. But before embarking on any glamping venture, it is worth considering the regulatory regimes that apply.

Small scale use

If you are planning on buying a glamping pod to use as additional space at your home, such as a garden room, studio or extra bedroom, then planning permission isn't normally required. For installing structures such as a cabin or shed, permitted development (PD) rights exist for houses (not flats) meaning relatively minor works can be carried out without planning permission. The extent of PD rights depends on the size and height of the structure, the size of the garden and the distance from the property boundary. Greater restrictions apply to listed buildings and properties in conservation areas. Occasional use of a cabin or shed as accommodation within the grounds of a property would also not tend to be considered a material change of use requiring planning permission.

Where this level of use increases, for example if the cabin or shed is regularly let as a self-catering unit, there could be an argument that the cabin is now being operated as a business and planning permission may be required. For these holiday let-style operations, each case needs to be considered on the individual circumstances – it is a legal grey area where use of the accommodation moves from being residential to commercial short-stay.

Type of structure

While glamping units come in a range of different designs, sizes and materials, the majority of off-grid cabins and huts will likely be moveable and so fall within the broad legal definition of a caravan:

"a 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)".

For units that can be classed as caravans, no planning permission is needed for the structures whether they comprise huts, tipi tents, log cabins or the traditional metal box on a chassis base. However, a caravan/camping licence will likely need to be obtained from the local authority, if you plan to site multiple moveable units on your land. Such licences contain conditions regulating the operation of the accommodation including: the maximum number and type of units on site, toilets and shower facilities, waste disposal, water and electricity supply, fire safety, roads and accesses.

For units that fall outside the definition of caravan, if they can't be readily moved due to construction methods, foundations or connection to a water and/or electricity supply, they will usually require planning permission to be obtained for their placing. The following factors are relevant to the likelihood of planning permission being granted: siting and design appropriate to location; impacts on amenity; impacts on the environment; roads and access; traffic and parking; designations applying to land (such as listed buildings status, conservation areas, National Parks, SSIs) and relevant planning policies regulating rural diversification and tourism developments.


Even if planning permission is not required for the structures you are intending to install, it will likely be needed for the change of use of the land. In some cases, this will be obvious, such as putting a row of wigwams on a field previously used for grazing. Other circumstances are less clear cut, such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to form holiday lets. Even if only limited building works are required to make the buildings habitable, planning permission will still be required to authorise the new use.

If your structures fall within the definition of a 'caravan', in addition to a caravan/camping licence you will likely need planning permission for the use of the site and also any permanent supporting infrastructure such as a site office, toilet and shower blocks and roads or footpaths. Where cabins are non-moveable, a single planning permission can cover the structures, supporting infrastructure and use of the site as glamping accommodation. It is also worth bearing in mind that moving from short-stay letting to full-term residential use as a separate dwelling of a single or multiple cabins will likely also require planning permission for change of use.

In essence, regardless of whether your proposed cabins are at the luxury end of the market with en-suite facilities or a low-tech, back to nature experience, both moveable and fixed, and off-grid and on-grid accommodation will require some form of authorisation before you start operating; either a caravan licence or planning permission.


Depending on how services are to be offered on site, the landowner will also need to think ahead to formalising access, water, drainage and any other services required to serve the site. If access to the site is not owned entirely by the landowner it may be that servitude rights of access need to be obtained from a neighbouring proprietor. Similarly, for supplies of water, drainage and electricity, if pipes need to cross land belonging to others, then appropriate consents should be obtained with the costs factored in, to assess whether the diversification proposal is viable.


There are some glamping franchisers on the market offering support, ranging from simply providing the equipment to offering full marketing and operational activity. Franchising is an attractive business model for landowners with no prior experience. But be mindful, to minimise your risk and control your future costs, the underlying contracts do need careful scrutiny and professional advice.

Undoubtedly, forward planning is key to make sure that the legal issues outlined above are addressed at the outset. This should help to ensure that the viability of any new business is properly scrutinised before it is too late. Following the correct channels to formalise services to the site and comply with planning regulations should lessen the risk of neighbour disputes, complaints from business competitors and threats of the planning authority taking enforcement action.

For more tailored advice for your specific plans, get in touch with us.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions