20 Acres but nowhere to live

Living entirely on what they grow and rear
Rule 1: Don’t annoy the neiughbours
A British couple who spent five years building their home from scrap by hand have been ordered to tear it down by Torridge Council in Devon.

Matthew Lepley, 34, and Jules Smith, 54, left London five years ago after reading “How to Live Off-Grid” planning to build their dream house in the countryside.
They used railway sleepers, lorry tyres and scrap metal to build up the house, and used no power tools.
Their home has an outdoor compost toilet, no power or running water, and an underground pantry instead of a fridge.
The couple ran into trouble after complaints from jealous neighbours. The couple say their neighbours were initially supportive of their ambition to live a self-sufficient lifestyle on the remote woodland plot.
But when they revealed plans to turn their rustic retreat into a conservation business, hosting workshops in green engineering and ‘permaculture’, locals turned against them.

They lived in tents while they constructed the home but the enforcement notice this week ordered them to ‘remove’ it from their field in in Beaworthy, Devon.
Mr Lepley said: ‘We wanted to build a home that would let us truly live as one with nature. We used recycled materials, an axe to break up the wood and hand tools to piece the structure together.

‘We don’t have electricity but we get by with paraffin lamps and candles. This life is not for everyone but we love it

The foundations were made from old tractor tyres filled with gravel, while the walls and roof were build from discarded haulage pallets and railway sleepers.
Despite having just one bedroom, a lounge, a kitchen and a bathroom to build, the building has taken years to complete because of the low-tech methods of construction.
The couple feed themselves by growing their own fruit and vegetables. They rear ducks for their eggs and sheep for wool. Instead of a fridge they use a compartment two and a half feet underground to keep it cool.
Their water is drawn out of the ground with a bore hole, and all the waste from their outside compose toilet is recycled.

But two years into the build a local opponent gathered ten signatures and submitted the petition to Torridge District Council’s planning department.
The first enforcement was appealed three years ago, and the couple are now going through a second round.
Mr Lepley said: ‘There is a chronic lack of affordable housing in this country and very few options for people on a low income. It’s not illegal, though we knew there was a risk someone might complain.
‘We’ve had a lot of drama with the neighbours, some have been really supportive while others have gone against us and started a petition. We were hoping no one would notice as its only visible within the dwelling and can’t be seen from the road.
‘The idea of the conservation project was to provide retreat accommodation and run courses and workshops on sustainable living. The house and surrounding land enables us to be totally self sufficient – we would be devastated if we had to knock down.’
Torridge District Council said the process had gone to appeal to decide if the notice is to be enforced and the house torn down.
A spokesman said: ‘I can confirm Torridge District Council has served an enforcement notice that they remove the structure. However, as it has now gone to appeal, we have to wait for the inspector’s decision before we can take any further action.’

8 Responses

  1. that’s the problem with the USA they don’t know how to leave the right people alone and get the one’s the aren’t right, Jackasses ! never quit, and take no prsioners !!!!!!

  2. This is another example of global business controlling our governments. If the public are inspired to build their own sustainable lifestyle, the utility company’s profits will drop, chain supermarkets profits will drop and government taxes will drop. Good luck guys.

  3. My Heart goes out to You and your Family, Don,t Stop Fighting, For All your Dreams to come true, Great Britain, As a Whole should be Backing You up, As the Rest of the World Should Also, I,m reading this in the USA, And have these Dreams to do So, Living of the GRID, Is Our, Ancestrial Right. People all around the World, live in Huts, Adobes, Cob homes, Cabins,Tents, Trailers, Conexes, And so many more Types of Structures, This Really Saddens Me, Because, If you had enough money to build a Castle, I,d Bet my life on it, You would have never gotten, Not one Complaint, So wake up Great Britian and Help These Folks out. My word of Advise, Have your land Rezoned as agricultural Farm. Good Luck, We Are all Supporting you from around the World. Sincerely Kevin… :)

  4. It’s a sad state of affairs when you are not allowed to provide one of the most basic of human needs such as shelter. We are all ‘free’ human beings, and should not be forcibly stopped from living an sustainable independent lifestyle. I do hope your appeal is successful, although I truly believe the system at present is just plain wrong. It is only by efforts such as yours that there is any hope for others to achieve the break from corporate servitude. Stick at it and be triumphant :)

  5. Keep fighting guys I think what you are trying to achieve is worth the battle I will hopefully be doing something similar as soon as I can.

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