Earmarked for demolition: eco-home which doesn’t have ‘rural character’

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With its higgledy-piggledy walls and turf roof it looks like the cosy home of a friendly hobbit. But an eco-dwelling in rural Pembrokeshire could become a test of the Welsh Government's grand designs on sustainable living.

Sculptor Charlie Hague and his wife Megan Williams spent nearly a year creating their wooden roundhouse on private family land in Glandwr.

The single story building, fashioned with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls cost £15,000 to construct and was completed just in time for the couple's first child allowing them to move out of the damp caravan where they had lived for the previous four years.

They claim it was the only way they could afford to own their own home. Yet despite earning plaudits from environmental architects across the world the young family are now fighting an order to demolish their dream home because it is claimed it is harmful to the rural character of the locality.

Pembrokeshire County Council has issued an enforcement order demanding they tear it down after going ahead with the build without first seeking planning permission.

"We built this house to provide our son with a healthy environment to grow up in. We were born in the area, went to school here, and have lived here all our lives. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else," said Mr Hague, 25.

The artist uses sustainably sourced wood from his own land to make his work. The couple applied for retrospective planning permission.  But the council says that the house is "not essential to provide accommodation for an agricultural or forestry worker".

Ms Williams, 25, said they are devastated at the prospect of pulling it down and have begun a Facebook campaign to save their home. "I know it's not a possibility for everyone, and our situation here is unique, but if young people are to live and work in the area they need somewhere to live," she said.

Opponents say it is vital to enforce planning permission rules across Wales to prevent a repeat of what happened in Ireland were unregulated bungalow building before the financial crash saw the landscape scarred by development.

However supporters insist that the building, which is next to the Lammas eco village, is created from the resources on the land and fulfils the Welsh Government's One Planet development policy which they claim gives the go ahead to building homes in open countryside in Wales provided they embody the principles of sustainable living and are zero carbon.  The matter will now be decided by the Welsh Assembly.

In a statement Pembrokeshire County Council said: "An enforcement notice has been served on this property as it is alleged that an unauthorised dwelling has been built in open countryside without planning permission. It is currently the subject of an enforcement appeal."

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