Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

Charlie's house: Two month death sentence because the, "benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside"

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

Charlie, who built this beautiful straw bale roundhouse, is a young man with a young family and like many finds it impossible to afford a home. In Charlie’s case he had three things going for him. First his father owns a big enough plot of land for Charlie to build a home. Second, the land was right next door to Lammas ecoVillage in Wales where there is plenty of natural building experience, inspiration and community spirit to help Charlie.

Finally, Charlie had been living with his partner Megan in a damp caravan for the past 4 years. 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. The lack of affordable homes and strict planning regulations touches many lives.

Hundertwasser the famous architect, designer and artist wrote:

The individual’s desire to build something should not be deterred! Everyone should be able and have to build and thus be truly responsible for the four walls in which he lives.

Jon Jandai, Director of Pun Pun Organic Farm said at a TED presentation in Thailand:

I want to be equal to animals. The bird makes a nest in one or two days; the rat digs a hole in one night, but clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house… that’s wrong.

Charlie’s home is designed from the natural resources available on the land rather than by building industry professionals that often specify homes using processed materials with high embodied energy.

This method of building is what SunRay Kelly calls Evolutionary Architecture and what Ben Law teaches to architects who want to learn about sustainable natural building.

It took Charlie a little over a year to build his home with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls. All in all it cost Charlie about £15,000 ($23,000). Watch this short video from film makers Living in the Future where Charlie tells his story.

Charlie and Megan applied for retrospective planning permission from Pembrokeshire County Council who decided that this wonderful, unobtrusive, sustainable home should be demolished consigning Charlie, Meg and their child back to their cold and damp caravan.

As of the 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council’s enforcement say the property must be demolished within 2 months because: “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”.

The Welsh government has guidelines for development of settlements in the open countryside called ‘One Planet Developments’. This is the Technical Advice Note 6 (PDF 6Mb) Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities, otherwise known as TAN6 with Tony Wrench’s roundhouse on the cover which was itself once under demolition threat but was eventually granted planning permission in September 2008.

plan of Charlie's house

plan of Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Published by Natural Homes.

There is something very very wrong with our corrupt planning system corrupt councilors and officials in the pocket of greedy developers.

It is ok to destroy countryside, level woodlands, for ugly development, but not ok for a house like Charlie’s that has minimal impact on the environment.

It would be difficult to imagine a house as attractive as Charlie’s.

We need more houses like this, not less.

I know of minimal impact houses in Cornwall and Sussex, assuming they are still there. The location is kept secret, as otherwise the too would be under threat as is Charlie’s house.

Charlie’s house look like a house built for a Hobbit.

To claim Charlie’s is harmful to the environment is arrant nonsense. This couple should be applauded for what they have built.

Please sign the petition to save Charlie’s house, calling on the local planning authorities to grant Charlie’s house retrospective planning permission.

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Charlie's house

Charlie’s house

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3 Responses to “Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside””

  1. keithpp Says:

    There is something going very very wrong with our planning system.

    Firgrove Green, the only green space this end of Farnborough town centre threatened with destruction for an unwanted, ugly, 80-bed Premier Inn hotel.

    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/firgrove-green-council-tree-officer-did-not-inspect-trees-he-condemned-as-unhealthy/

    On the other hand, Charlie’s house, a beautiful low impact house built with love, is threatened with destruction.

  2. misakouroco Says:

    I hope it will be a wakeup call for the councils and so on, this house should be a model of eco-friendly house, and it’s cozy and lovely.

  3. keithpp Says:

    Exactly, it is a model eco-friendly house, and it’s cozy and lovely. The local council should be encouraging Charlie to show others how they can build low impact, low cost housing.

    The local council can and should grant Charlie’s house retrospective planning permission. Please sign the petition calling on them to save Charlie’s house.

    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/pembrokeshire-county-council-and-the-welsh-assembly-grant-retrospective-planning-permission-to-charlie-and-meg-s-roundhouse

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