A young family has won its epic battle to live in a real-life “hobbit house” after defeating an attempt by planners to bulldoze it.
Charlie Hague and Megan Williams, both 27, used natural materials to build their unique home in a secret location blending in with the rolling countryside of Pembrokeshire in west Wales.
The couple did not have planning permission and applied for approval only after moving in with their newborn son Eli three years ago. They were ordered to flatten it.
Their battle to save their £12,000 eco-home from demolition – supported by thousands of people from around the world – ended in victory when they won a final planning inspector appeal.
Williams said: “We are delighted. We are very happy and very excited we can carry on doing what we want to achieve living on the land. It is a basic need and primal urge to build a house and shelter but there was no way we could have afforded houses in the area.
This was why we decided to build our own home and we were fortunate enough to have land to do that.
“It’s been a really long, hard struggle and we’ve had to meet some really strict criteria under the sustainable living criteria.
“I got the news we can keep our home in an email. I was just doing some paperwork and I saw it. I’ve had to keep re-reading it.”
The couple claim they could not afford to buy a conventional home in the area because prices were inflated by visitors buying holiday homes, so they built on land owned by Hague’s parents.
Hague and Williams applied for retrospective planning permission but were left heartbroken when Pembrokeshire planners voted 9-4 to bulldoze the turf-roofed family home.
Carpenter and sculptor Hague said they had built the house to provide Eli with a healthy environment in which to grow up. Hague said: “We were born in the area, went to school here, and have lived here all our lives.”
The couple’s hopes rested on their final planning application meeting One Planet Development practice criteria – which require either 65% of all subsistence, or 30% of food and 35% of livelihood, to come from the land.
The couple reached the targets by combining sales from Hague’s woodworking business with income generated by small-scale renewable energy on site, and a soft fruits dessert business. Williams sells raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, jostaberries, white and red currants, strawberries and rhubarb.
She said: “We’ve built a sustainable home for our young family and are living lightly on the land and hope we will continue to be able to do so.”
In her report, planning inspector Kay Sheffield said: “I have concluded that the development would adhere to the requirements of Welsh government guidance in respect of One Planet Development and that the contents of the management plan 2015 would satisfy the terms and conditions of the guidance.
“On this basis I conclude that the proposal is an acceptable form of residential development in the open countryside.”