image: Jo Tibbles
What Ray Spice and partner Sarah have is a lovely yurt with solar and hydro power, a wood stove and felt insulation, on rented land in North Devon. What they don't have is planning permission, and the local planning office calls it a "residential development" that is too far from the shops and has insufficient parking.
According to Mr. Spice, who was looking for a better, less wasteful way of living. He tells the Daily Mail:
'We've lived in peace here for two and a half years, but 18 months ago we were told we had to have planning permission.'
However, Mr Spice's application for retrospective permission was turned down by North Devon Council.
He said: 'Among other things, the council have claimed we are unsustainable because we live more than 600 yards from a shop.
'And they feel we may be polluting the river with our toilet - but we were visited by environmental health officers, and we've got confirmation that we're not.
'They've also said parking is an issue, in that we don't have adequate parking spaces, but we've only got one car, and I've got a 13ft by 24ft space.'
A neighbour points out:
'There is no development. All you'd have to do is take the tent down and by next Spring the grass would be green again. I think this is a marvellous example, they have certainly touched my conscience.
'But I'm worried we're in danger of letting small-minded bureaucrats spoil what is essentially an excellent experiment. You can't see it - it's not spoiling anyone's view.'
But are the planners not doing their job, preserving "a heavily protected landscape, which comprises an area of outstanding natural beauty, where there are very strong policies against any form of development."?
More in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph
This is going to become a major issue as more people look at alternatives to conventional housing, try to tread a little more lightly and live with a little bit less. Or, more likely, if they are forced out of their houses and have to move to a Bushburb or Hooverville.
Yurts are trendy and green, but are they really any different from a mobile home or trailer? Do different rules apply? Watch for a survey on this subject.
More on Yurts and mobile housing in TreeHugger:
30 Different Ways to Put A Roof Over Your Head In These Tents Times
Yurts. Not Just for Hippies Anymore
Portable Yurts from Go-Yurt
Living in a Yurt
Yurta: The Optimized Yurt
The Nomad Yurt: Stick to the Real Thing