Thursday 12 December 2019

'Hobbit' house faces demolition

The environmentally-friendly Hobbit-style house faces being knocked down
The environmentally-friendly Hobbit-style house faces being knocked down

An environmentally-friendly Hobbit-style house faces being knocked down after councillors refused to give it retrospective planning permission.

Megan Williams and Charlie Hague built the Roundhouse using local materials in the garden of her parents' home in Glandwr, Pembrokeshire, west Wales.

Looking like something straight out of Peter Jackson's hit Lord of The Rings film series, the unique property has a grass roof as well as a hand carved winding wooden staircase.

Despite the home winning hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, its owners were served with a demolition order last year after it emerged they had not applied for planning permission.

And Pembrokeshire Council chiefs have thrown out Megan and Charlie's appeal to save the property.

The local authority's planning committee said they would not grant retrospective planning permission because it was an "unjustified development".

Council cabinet member Rob Summons said: " Planning is a rigorous process with clear guidelines and if it is to be enforced fairly has to be upheld by everyone."

Miss Williams and Mr Hague said their home should be allowed to remain because it had a low impact on the environment.

They had hoped Welsh Government guidelines designed to encourage sustainable development - the One Planet Development Policy (OPD) - could have made it possible for the couple to keep their family home.

Council bosses said there were " fundamental shortcomings" in the application's reliance on the OPD rules.

A spokeswoman said: "Pembrokeshire County Council originally issued an enforcement notice against the roundhouse in December 2012 because it had been built without planning permission in open countryside and was therefore contrary to planning policy.

"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."

However, local councillor Terry Wilcox said it would be "immoral" to make the couple tear down their home.

Ms Williams and Mr Hague now have six months within which to lodge an appeal against the decision.

In 2008, a hippy commune in west Wales managed to win planning approval at the 11th hour for its roundhouses just hours before bulldozers were due to move in.

The eco-community in the Preseli mountains was set up in 1993 on a 180-acre farm bought by Julian and Emma Orbach.

Its existence only came to light five years later when sunlight was seen glinting of a solar panel by an aerial photographer.

PA Media

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