South West Wales

'Hobbit home' to be demolished after Pembrokeshire vote

Media captionThe environmentally-friendly roundhouse was built for around £12,000 with the help of family and friends

An eco-friendly "hobbit-style" home in Pembrokeshire faces demolition after its owners' bid for retrospective planning permission was rejected.

Megan Williams and Charlie Hague built the house using local materials in the garden of her parents' home on land at Glandwr near Crymych in 2012.

More than 100,000 people had signed an online petition supporting the couple.

On Tuesday Pembrokeshire councillors refused to save the house. The couple say they will appeal.

Sculptor Mr Hague and Ms Williams argued that the straw-walled roundhouse, which took a year to build, has a low impact on the environment.

They lived in a caravan for four years, before moving into the new home just before their son was born.

Megan Williams said she and her partner wanted to live "an older and simpler way of life".

But they had not applied for planning permission at the time and faced calls from the council to demolish the house.

Media captionThe environmentally-friendly roundhouse was built for around £12,000 with the help of family and friends

The couple asked the council to reconsider the issue after losing an appeal against a demolition order in 2013.

But officials said the couple had broken rules about developing homes in the countryside and recommended councillors refuse their second appeal.

Crymych councillor Keith Lewis prompted applause from the public at the meeting on Tuesday when he said there were no local objections to the house and the couple were "ahead of the game in many ways".

But planning officer David Popplewell said the property fell short of the guidance in the Welsh government's One Planet Development (OPD) policy.

Nine of the planning committee members voted to refuse the planning request, while four voted in favour of allowing the application.

Ms Williams said she and her partner felt "very disappointed" but were "determined to carry save our home and get permission".

They have six months to launch an appeal, and Ms Williams said:" That's the way we're going to go."

Asked if she was confident they could win, she replied: "We can't think any other way."

In a statement, Pembrokeshire council said it had originally issued an enforcement notice against the roundhouse in December 2012.

It said: "An appeal against this decision was refused by a Welsh government planning inspector last July.

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

It said the committee members voted to refuse the retrospective application for the house as it was "an unjustified development in open countryside contrary to planning policies".

Image copyright Amanda Jackson
Image caption Branches and other natural materials have been used to construct the dwelling

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