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Sustainable ‘hobbit home’ in Wales faces demolition



Pembrokeshire council has said that a hand built eco-home of a couple who did not apply for planning permission has to be demolished, despite the support of 100,000 people asking for the place to be saved.

Megan Williams and Charlie Hague built the house with a £12,000 budget and the help of family and friends, by following low impact and environmentally friendly criteria.

The straw-walled roundhouse was built on private land using locally sourced material and has a grass roof and a hand carved winding wooden staircase.

Despite the huge support by people across the country – with more than 100,000 signing a petition to ask the council to let the family keep the place – the ‘hobbit house’ now faces demolition because the owners failed to ask for planning permission at the time of construction.

An inspector found that the “the benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”, despite the low-impact features of the house.

Williams and Hague hoped they could enlist the place under the Welsh government’s One Planet Development Policy (OPD) that encourages sustainable homes but their household fell short of certain criteria.

The bid for retrospective planning permission was also rejected, but the owners now intend to appeal to save their home and get permission to stay.

Some members of the council actually praised the pair for their home and admitted they couldn’t theoretically object to it, but they had to follow the rules.

Councillor Pete Stock said, “I do not think there is anyone in Wales who would be against this development. I think it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. My heart is telling me, without a shadow of a doubt, that we must move down that road.

“I hope that we can find a way so that this development can remain, either at the Assembly level or whatever, but unfortunately there are rules and regulations that we must follow.”

Photo: David via flickr

Further reading:

Public urged to photograph derelict spaces to help solve housing crisis

Success for green deal as vouchers worth £43m are issued in just six weeks

Campaigners say government planning policy will ‘wreck countryside’

‘Urgent’ action needed to protect green belt land

The Guide to Sustainable Homes 2013