Plan carefully to give seasonal staff a home

With a growing need to import temporary staff or supply housing when advertising full-time vacancies, it’s no wonder interest in static caravans for residential use is on the rise.

While locating a suitable static is relatively straightforward – there are a number available in Marketplace (see Caravans/mobile homes) – getting it on to the ground can be a different matter altogether, say suppliers.

Planning issues are the main obsticle. Mobile and static homes come under planning laws and permisssion is needed before siting a unit.

Often each county, district or parish council interprets guidelines on planning according to local needs.

It will consider several factors such as economic reasoning, availability of alternative accommodation and impact on the landscape, explain advisers.

Having a solid case for applying for planning before buying a static is essential.

Economic arguments can include the need for temporary accommodation for staff assisting with seasonal crops.

Be prepared to justify the impact individual enterprises’ contribution to farm cashflow will make to help get permission.

Likewise, producers letting out surplus farm housing to private, full-time tenants may find planning is rejected for additional, temporary housing on the basis of availability of potential accommodation owned or managed by the farm business.

Applying for permission to site mobile homes for renting out to holiday-makers can be tougher depending on location, although most tourist areas have guidelines for expansion of the mobile market.

Once permission is secured, guidance is given on location by the local planning department.

Expect to put down an area of hardstanding, prop supports and to supply electricity, water and foul waste disposal.

This can cost as much as the static caravan.

Expenditure varies widely.

Used statics from £500 will be basic.

Top-end, new models costing up to £30,000 may be budget-busters but could be needed to secure career staff, such as herd or unit managers.

Well-appointed statics now offer living accommodation that exceeds the comforts of traditional farm accommodation.

Central heating, double glazing, fitted kitchens are commonplace, say suppliers.

Availability of ex-site statics from holiday parks, private tenants relinquishing pitches and dealerships can be seasonal.

Look for end-of-season bargains.

Removal is best left to experienced operators.

Statics tend to be 3.5-5m wide (10-12ft) and unsuited to removal by many hauliers.

Access to sites needs to be good, the main complaint being narrow entrances.

As with rented accommodation, owners remain responsible for a duty of care over tenants and routine testing of all gas or electrical items supplied in the static is required.