After a long fight, Charlie's Hobbit House in Wales faces demolition
A year ago we asked, Should this "Hobbit House" be demolished for flouting the planning rules? It is a lovely thing, built of straw bale and found wood with a green roof, but it had been built in protected countryside. According to Natural Homes,
With a baby on the way Charlie felt he had no choice but to build his house without the approval of the planning authorities, convinced permission for his home would be refused.
Indeed, Charlie and Megan did a lovely job, and touched a chord around the world as nearly a hundred thousand people signed petitions to save the house. We did a poll on TreeHugger that got two thousand votes, 91% in support of saving the house.
It is a difficult issue. As some commenters noted, if it was a monster home with a two car garage, we would have no qualms about saying that the countryside should be preserved and the rules should be followed. In a lot of ways we are seduced by the cuteness of the house and the occupants. Other secret hobbit houses have been approved retroactively. And a lot of rich guys with fancy solicitors have managed to get their houses built in protected countryside. But according to Wales Online,
Head of planning Hywel Wyn Jones said there were ‘fundamental shortcomings’ in the application’s reliance on the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development guidelines – which encourages sustainable development. “The first main issue is whether there any exceptions to the strict control on local planning policy for development in the open countryside,” said Mr Wyn Jones. “It is considered that the development is not One Planet Development and that there are no considerations sufficient to set aside national and local planning policy.”
After a quick reading the Wales One Planet Development guide, it would be hard to imagine that this house didn't comply.
Residents of One Planet Developments have to live quite differently (much more sustainably) than is the norm in the 21st century. One Planet Development therefore is not just describing a physical development. It is describing a way of living differently where there is a symbiotic relationship between people and land, making a reduction in environmental impacts possible. The management plan for a One Planet Development, therefore, describes both the nature of development and the way of life that will be pursued in association with that development.
However they did skip a significant step in the process, the requirement to "engage with the planning authority from the outset to discuss emerging proposals," and the development of an extensive management plan, all of which seem to be designed to prevent exactly this kind of under-the-radar development. So in a vote of 9 to 4, council refused permission. One of the four called this decision "immoral."
A seriously tough call.
Lots more photos on Wales Online