Devon 'self-sufficient' couple told to leave smallholding

A self-sufficient couple from Devon claim they have been told by a council to leave their smallholding.

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

They have been told by the council to leave by Tuesday.

Mid Devon District Council said although it would like to help it must uphold planning policy.

The couple told BBC News they would continue their battle.

Mrs Mason said: "We are sustainable in vegetables and feed our family and other members of the village."

The site has an allotment and greenhouses and the couple have regenerated an orchard.

'Allowance in the law'

The couple are currently living in a lorry on the site and said they do not depend on the state.

If forced off the land they may have to use emergency accommodation and benefits, they added.

Mr Mason said: "For the small minority of people who do want to live like this there should be some allowance in the law."

The council said to get permission the couple had to prove there was a need for them to live there, and it was an enterprise that could provide income for at least one worker.

Councillor Richard Chesterton said: "The land is still classified as open countryside. We have a duty to uphold local and national planning policies."

An injunction has been served on the couple and they have been told to leave by 28 June.

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