Should Silent Haven be demolished?

Silent Haven is a lovely place, in Devon, England. Matthew Lepley and Jules Smith spent five years building it from old tires and scrap wood from packing cases and pallets without the use of any power tools. It has a composting toilet, a wood fired hot water heater, and a root cellar instead of a fridge.

Now they may have to tear it all down, since they didn't apply for any planning permission. Mr. Lepley tells the Daily Mail:

The process was a lot slower but it was extremely satisfying. We wanted to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. We took the decision to build without planning permission because the council’s procedure is not environmentally friendly enough and it goes against our personal principles.

The Mail continues:

The couple say their neighbours were initially supportive of their ambition to live self-sufficiently.
They were relying on locals not alerting the council to their project so they would be given automatic planning permission after four years. But two years into the build, the couple say locals changed their tune when they revealed plans to run an eco-friendly retreat and host green workshops in their field.

So this was no longer just two people building a tiny green house out of used pallets, but a business as well.

See lots of great copyrighted photos in the Mail.

Should this be allowed?

This is not the first time that we have written about interesting and green projects that have been built without permits and face demolition, it almost seems common in Britain. Mr. Lepley says "What we’ve done isn’t illegal" but in fact it is.

There are rules against buildings under a certain size, rules against composting toilets, rules against rainwater collection, rules against living in trailers, often legislated as much for maintenance of conformity and property values as they are for safety or planning reasons.

© Friggebod book cover

The Friggebod Precedent

In Sweden, people are allowed to build Friggebods, buildings of up to 150 square feet without a building permit. It was seen as " a widely popular symbol of liberalisation." I wonder if the whole Tiny House movement and people like Matthew Lepley and Jules Smith don't deserve an equivalent rule in Britain and North America. What do you think?


Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less | United Kingdom