Eco-home Made From Old Tires Can Stay Because of New Planning Rules

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An ‘eco-home’ which has been built from old tyres in a field in Devon without planning permission can remain because of controversial new planning rules.

Matthew Lepley, 34, and Jules Smith, 54, moved from a London tower block to the countryside to live “at one with nature”.

They spent five years sleeping in tents and living off the land while they constructed a one bedroom eco-cabin from wooden crates and lorry tyres.

The couple shunned power tools and did all the work by hand to cut their carbon emissions.

The pair failed to apply for planning permission as they believed it wastes energy and is not environmentally friendly enough.

The dwelling upset locals who complained that the tumbledown timber dwelling without planning permission.

The locals were backed by Torridge District Council which ordered the couple them to “remove” it from their field in Beaworthy, Devon.

Matthew and Jules home- complete with kitchen/diner, living room, bathroom, upstairs bedroom and outside compostable toilet (SWNS)

But in a landmark ruling planners have praised their “passion” and “commitment” to sustainable living and said the building could remain for three years.

Gareth Symons, a planning inspector, said that building was in line with the new National Planning Policy Framework which introduced a new bias in favour of “sustainable development” when it was unveiled in March 2012.

Matthew Lepley and Julie Smith (SWNS)

The couple’s approach “sits very comfortably” within the NPPF, which also encourage builders to use natural materials to minimise waste and carbon emissions.

Mr Symons described their efforts to live a frugal life at one with nature as “admirable” and said forcing the pair to leave the handmade home could have a “devastating impact” on them.

He said: “First hand evidence of this and from everything I heard it would be very difficult to flaw the passion the appellants have to achieve their ‘permaculture’ aim, a key part of which is living with nature on the land.

The two eco-fanatics exist without electricity or running water (SWNS)

“I am convinced about the genuineness and commitment of the appellants. They are not individuals who simply wish to have a house in the countryside.”

The pair run a smallholding on their land and if it proves financially viable it may entitle them to retrospective planning permission when the three year stay elapses.

They had bought a 20-acre field and pooled £20,000 to build their new home with scraps of wood and unwanted junk.

Matthew and Jules inside their eco home (SWNS)

Neighbours were initially supportive of their ambition to live a self-sufficient lifestyle on the remote woodland plot.

But this changed when the pair revealed plans to turn their rustic retreat into an conservation business, hosting workshops in green engineering and “permaculture”.


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