Willand smallholders win right to build home

  • 10 April 2013
  • From the section Devon
Stig and Dinah Mason
Image caption Stig and Dinah Mason will equip the barn with solar panels and a wind turbine

A Devon family has won the right to build a home on their smallholding after a battle to get planning permission.

Dinah and Stig Mason were refused permission to build a house on the four-acre site in Willand, classified as open countryside.

Changes to planning laws mean the Masons can now convert an old barn on the site.

Mrs Mason said: "We're ecstatic. We can finally live the life that we choose."

Injunction to leave

The couple, who moved into a horsebox on the smallholding in 2009, have greenhouses, chickens, sheep and pigs and aim to live as self-sufficiently as they can.

Mid Devon District Council rejected plans in 2011 for a straw-bale constructed house on the land because the land was classified as agricultural.

The couple were served with an injunction to leave and the family moved to a site for travellers.

But the Masons went back to the council with a new application, citing the National Planning Framework and its reference to regenerating redundant farm buildings.

Planning laws now allow the reuse of redundant or disused buildings if the development enhances the area.

Mid Devon District Council awarded the Masons permission subject to 12 conditions.

The approval said: "It is also consistent with national and local policies relating to the conversion of redundant rural buildings to dwellings."

The couple said the straw bale house would have been cheaper to build and to heat.

Mrs Mason said: "We are going to have to spend a lot more money, but we have got our dream and there are not many people in their 30s who get to live their dream.

The couple hope to be in their new home with their two children by Christmas.

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