Building Officials in UK Allow Couple to Keep House Built Without Permits

The Good Life goes on! Couple who spent five years building an eco-home in the country have been allowed to keep it despite not applying for planning permission

Matthew Lepley, 34, and Jules Smith, 54, left London five years ago to build their dream house in the countryside. They decided not to apply for planning permission because the process “uses too much paper and electricity.” They used railway sleepers, lorry tyres, and scrap metal to build the house in Beaworthy, Devon, but no power tools. The home has an outdoor compost toilet, no power or running water, and an underground pantry instead of a fridge. The couple were told by Torridge District Council they may have to tear down their home after neighbours’ complaints. But now a government planning inspector has ruled that the house may stay because of its eco-credentials. Angry local residents say: “It’s disgusting how some people are treated one way and other people treated another way.”

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Photo: SWMS.com

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About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

4 Responses to Building Officials in UK Allow Couple to Keep House Built Without Permits

  1. I think it is a wonderful house – especially its "eco-credentials". However, their comment that the planning process uses "too much paper and electricity", whilst being true, is also disingenuous. I suspect they had to use far more paper and electricity to take it all the way to an inspector (and probably petrol too, as appeals never seem to get held locally). Despite all this quibbling by me I do congratulate them and wish them well.

  2. I understand it, but its not uniformity under the common law. Its more of a sculptural statement, so I see it as a work of art, therefore its ok. It IS on privately owned land.

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