How Charlie and Meg’s self-built, natural home finally received planning permission with the help of the One Planet Council

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Posted Nov 11 2015 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org
Charlie-and-Megs-home

You may remember a previous article about Charlie and Meg’s natural home in Pembrokeshire, that the planners decided needed to be bulldozed because it was ‘harmful to the rural character of the locality’. See here.

The article below is re-blogged from the wonderful One Planet Council, and it explains how Charlie and Meg were successful at appeal.

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A zero energy roundhouse, built by a young family, has been saved from demolition following an appeal to the local planning authority. Their campaign to save their house touched the hearts of thousands, who wrote in support, but this wasn’t what saved the home.

In 2012, Megan Williams and Charlie Hague built their own form of sustainable development from scratch using only natural and local materials on Charlie’s parents’ land without planning permission. Then the home was discovered and they had to apply for retrospective planning permission. But this was turned down.

Megan Williams and Charlie Hague with their child

Megan Williams and Charlie Hague with their child

The house is in rural Wales where a unique planning rule applies, called One Planet Development. Under this rule, homes may be built on rural land (normally opposed) provided that the owners undertake land-based activities involving resources grown, reared or occurring naturally on the site, which enable them to “provide for the minimum needs of the inhabitants in terms of income, food, energy and waste assimilation over a period of no more than five years from the commencement of work on the site”.

(Work is underway by the One Planet Council, set up to promote such developments, to define the nature of one planet developments in peri-urban and urban situations.)

Charlie and Megan’s first attempt to gain planning permission was under this policy, but their plan was not robust enough. One of the sticking points was to do with the impact of transport.

Then, with the help of the One Planet Council in constructing a more detailed and focussed management plan, they reapplied, and were successful.

A management plan is required at planning application stage for this type of planning application in order to show how the householders’ needs will be met, and to demonstrate the economic feasibility of the businesses. If permission is granted, reporting is required over the five year period to ensure compliance.

The management plan should also show how the owners will take measures to reduce their ecological footprint to a specified level, enhance biodiversity, use renewable energy, deal with water sourcing and sewerage, improve soil conditions and curate any cultural heritage.

Zero carbon homes

One Planet Development (OPD) especially requires the construction of simple, well functioning dwellings tied into sustainable land management. Homes are required to have minimal visual and environmental impact. They must be constructed from sustainable or recycled materials, locally sourced where possible.

They don’t have to look like a hobbit house, but can be of any design preferred by the owners, as long as they meet Building Regulations and are ‘net zero’ energy users, requiring the use of renewable energy. Innovation and different styles of construction are encouraged as long as they comply with the planning standards.

The necessity for self-build and the resourceful use of materials means that they are, so far, less expensive than the average home, even when constructed to a conventionally accepted standard. Charlie and Meg’s home cost around £12,000.

The couple had gained support from people all over the world for their eco-house and their Facebook page ‘Charlie and Meg’s Roundhouse’ has over 14,000 likes. The news of their success made several of the national UK papers.

The couple issued a statement saying that: “The news is slowly sinking in. We really appreciate all the support. Now we can put our energy into planning our wedding in September.”

One of the land-based activities the couple is undertaking is making sculptures out of timber grown on site. Charlie said: “The costs of planning have left us high and dry so if anyone wants to help by buying a carving it would be much appreciated.”

Sculpture by Megan Williams and Charlie Hague

Sculpture by Megan Williams and Charlie Hague.