Saga of a young family who almost lost their natural built home


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Jon Jandai, Director of Pun Pun Organic Farm said at a TED presentation in Thailand,

"I want to be equal to animals. The bird makes a nest in one or two days; the rat digs a hole in one night, but clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house... that's wrong."

Charlie's home is designed from the natural resources available on the land rather than by building industry professionals that often specify homes using processed materials with high embodied energy.

This method of building is what SunRay Kelly calls Evolutionary Architecture and what Ben Law teaches to architects who want to learn about sustainable natural building.

It took Charlie a little over a year to build his home with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls. All in all it cost Charlie about £15,000 ($23,000). Watch this short video from film makers Living in the Future where Charlie tells his story.

Charlie and Megan applied for retrospective planning permission from Pembrokeshire County Council who decided that this wonderful, unobtrusive, sustainable home should be demolished consigning Charlie, Meg and their child back to their cold and damp caravan.

As of the 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council's enforcement say the property must be demolished within 2 months because,

"benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside".

This is the rural character close to Charlie's home on Google Street View.

UPDATE 18th June 2014: "The dwelling will be dismantled and removed..."

Pembrokeshire planning committee meets on Tuesday 24th of June to discuss Charlie and Megan's retrospective planning permission. Theagenda for the meeting is now available. The agenda includes a recommendation document that says,

"It is recommended that the application be REFUSED"

and goes on to say,

"The dwelling will be dismantled and removed. This would not be a difficult task since it has been built predominantly from natural materials."

This makes you wonder if Charlie might have had a better chance of keeping his home if he had built it from steel and concrete! Remember, this is a recommendation. Let's hope when the planning committee sit together on the 24th that they have compassion for Charlie, the environment and the many others that want to live sustainably on the land. Pembrokeshire Council's Facebook Page continues to be inundated with messages of support for Charlie's retrospective planning application. Maybe it's not too late to save Charlie's home.

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