Landmatters eco-community in Devon wins fight to remain

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Media captionSee inside an eco-community which produces its own power after it secured permanent planning permission

An eco-community which produces its own power has been given permanent planning permission after a 10 year battle.

Landmatters, which includes 16 adults and seven children, live on 42 acres of land it owns near Totnes in Devon.

Members had previously been granted temporary permission to live on the site where they grow their own food and water is hand pumped from a well.

Granting permanent permission South Hams District Council said its "low impact way of life" was "not damaging".

More on the Landmatters planning battle, plus more Devon and Cornwall news

Image caption Solar panels and wind turbines provide power for the community
Image caption Benders are dome-like structures made of branches and covered by tarpaulins to provide accommodation

Members of Landmatters live in eight yurts or portable tents used by nomads as well as benders which are dome-like structures made of branches and covered by tarpaulin.

Its heat comes from wood-burning stoves and its power from solar panels and wind turbines.

Resident Simeon Warburton said: "We live very comfortably and what we are trying to do is not put a strain on the earth's resources.

"I think it sends out a message that this way of life is successful, sustainable, part of the society in which we live and which will become a more important part of our future."

Image caption Wood-burning stoves keep the benders warm in the winter

Landmatters' first application for dwellings on the land was rejected in 2006, three years after it bought the land.

But it was overturned by a planning inspector the following year and Landmatters was granted a five-year temporary planning permission.

It has now won an application to have the temporary permission removed.

There were 23 letters of support for Landmatters including comments on its educational value to schools. There were no objections.

Image caption Resident Simeon Warburton said: "I think it sends out a message that this way of life is successful."

Penny Mills of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "We all applaud sustainable building and people trying to live sustainably off the land.

"But it has got to be in accordance with the planning regulations. You can't just buy a field or a piece of woodland and go off and do what you like with it."

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