Couple win right to go on living in 'secret' bunker

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The Independent Online
The owner of an underground house which remained secret from the world for five years, was yesterday given the go-ahead to continue living in it.

Simon Ormerod, 57, a former businessman, built the two-bedroomed house on a remote quarry site without mains water or electricity. The roof and two sides of the house at No Man's Land, St Breock, Cornwall, are covered with earth.

Power is provided by a water wheel and diesel generator and only a solar- heating area and the front windows are visible.

Mr Ormerod estimates the house cost just pounds 20,000 to build and the average weekly heating bill is just pounds 1.

The house was built without permission from North Cornwall District Council, which could have ordered bulldozers on to the site to demolish it. But councillors yesterday voted 10-6 to give the house planning permission and Mr Ormerod said: "This is the house of the future and the way forward."

The council only discovered its existence by accident last year and it was such a well-kept secret that the farmer who farms the adjoining 2,000 acres did not know it had been built until he was told by Mr Ormerod.

Mr Ormerod and his wife, Maureen, farmed on the site for 20 years and have lived there since 1988. Neither was available for further comment last night. The site is termed as being of great heritage value.

The decision contrasts with the fate of Trevor Sedgebeer, a Devon farmer who buried his house underground after he built it without planning permission. Mr Sedgebeer was jailed last December for three months for contempt of a court order to demolish it. He was later freed after he apologised to the court.