Eco ‘hobbit home’ in Pembrokeshire faces demolition

The home has walls of straw and a roof of grass but no planning permission
The home has walls of straw and a roof of grass but no planning permission

“A hobbit-style eco-home is threatened with demolition after it was built in open countryside without planning permission.

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams, both 25, have been told to take down the roundhouse in Glandwr near Crymych.

Branches and other natural materials have been used to construct the dwelling
Branches and other natural materials have been used to construct the dwelling

The eco-home has walls made from straw bales, a grass roof and has branches as its frame.”

A Pembrokeshire council enforcement notice states the house was “harmful to the rural character of the locality”.

Read more at the source: BBC News

40 thoughts on “Eco ‘hobbit home’ in Pembrokeshire faces demolition”

      • Hi Owen, we would appreciate mor exposure. This is bigger than just a natural built home.

        The bigger picture here is that land rights for the normal person to live and feed themselves are not working. This is about shedding light on injustice and discrimination between the landowners (1%) and the rest. As social justice workers and environmental educators we will not just roll over and run away when the going gets tough. We live this way because someone needs to be a voice otherwise things aren’t gonna change. Did Gandhi just walk away?, is Aung San Suu Kyi sitting under house arrest because of her ego?

        This is food security/land access issue. This is about sustainability, we cannot continue to live in a way that uses more resources that the earth can bear This is not just about us. As soon as we had the capacity we turned our place into a commons. We will continue do that as long as we can.

        Anybody that is going to confront the ruling paradigm is going to meet with aggression and extreme challenges.

        Its the earth that is under attack and our home is a symbol of what is a viable alternative.

        We are a living and learning centre for sustainable lifestyles and permaculture principals. To be a positive response to the destruction which the planet and its population are suffering due to unsustainable agriculture, industry, consumerism, and non-renewable energy lifestyles.

        Please check out our web page, sign our petitionn and spread the word to stop this madness.

  1. I so feel for this family. Thjey have done what most will never do in their lifetime and that is buildones own home/house. The local ‘planners’ should be disgusted as the counsellors should be also, I guess its because the builders/family are welsh and the counsellors are probably all english lording it over the natives.. just like old times in pembrokeshire.. cymru am byth and stick it up to them. And well how are they going to get access to the land to demolish it, if indeed the land is privately owned by the family? I feel a just case for taking the council to court for trespass if they step one foot onto the land of this family.

  2. I apologise for the cynical reply here, but personal experience tells: Beautifully built home, by the way. And well done for the green credentials so advertised by the Welsh Assembly. Unlike the local council. What I had to say was: Idiots. Don’t they realise, alongside the interests of the big players, if you want anything done it is the old ‘cross my palm with silver’ that wins the day. Fortunately this is a fast disappearing trait in government offices. Sorry again.

  3. So dreadful a thought , but as the coming times, here now, seem to be the honest, average, Jack and Jill, against the , what WE used to call “The Establishment,” the world seems to be taking the idea of if you don’t like it, come move me, but be prepared to suffer the consequences. Personally, me, a Vet..I lose my home..You gonna lose yours. We’ve just come to that line in the sand…

    • I agree with you John. They say a “nation of laws” but, too much is too much. The way I see it is if you’re going to charge me taxes for my OWN land then you don’t have a darn thing to say what I do on it. If that’s to build my own home the way I want it or turn it into a park. It’s mine to do with what “I” want and not some council, committee or whatever.

      • I harp on building codes a lot because this incident shows what can happen when you turn things over to a committee or government bureaucracy (which were your inherent rights to start with). Going along with the system just feeds the beast, and it grows and grows until it’s out of control. It’s the nature of bureaucracies. They’ll hire more of their friends and families and vote for more pay raises, larger offices… and on and on it goes. It’s way past time to put an end to this corrupt system.

        A previous blog post talked about some of the early historical building codes. The first code books were about 50-100 pages and no doubt very clear and simple. Now there are dozens of lengthy and extremely complex books that only engineers and architects can decipher. This takes power away from average folks and makes them dependent on the system. And as I’ve said repeatedly here the codes were written by the timber, steel, concrete and brick industries (on record, not a conspiracy) to stifle competition. These industries DON’T want people building with soil, local wood poles, bamboo, etc. They want you to buy their products no matter the cost to you or the environment.

        • Yep your right Doc. Bottom line is it’s all about money. It’s interesting you put up the Codes. Just last night I downloaded my states Codes. After I read what Jay had to say it got me to thinking and wa-la I now have this “thing” with all the codes and amendments and other data that you really have to be knowledgeable to understand what the heck they’re talking about. That’s one of the angles they use to trap you I believe. A whole bunch of stuff that only certain people involved in the sham understand.

          • It’s similar to the legal profession — write obtuse legalese that only lawyers and judges can understand and then the masses are reliant on them for help. This approach also gives rich people a major advantage in court. They can hire better lawyers and almost always get what they want. They’ve developed these systems for hundreds of years and now it’s to the point than the average guy is nearly helpless.

    • I just hope this young couple know just how many people REALLY DO care about them and their home. What’s happened to the world of man today. Why is it the few can manage the lives of the majority?! The insanity of it all!

      • This home is on their property. It’s out of view, made of natural materials and not hurting a thing. They needed a home and this is what they could afford. To destroy their home and make them homeless is a crime. Maybe locals should join together and do a class action lawsuit. I’m not litigious, but it’s a possibility that could tie things up in the courts for years. And maybe by then there are dozens or hundreds of similar houses in the area and then the tide will turn (especially if the culprits are voted out).

        • Good point “IF” the courts there are anything like America’s. To make them homeless would be a true crime. There’s just too much greed and government intrusion. That’s from the county, city, state and federal.

    • Just another reason why even local government is so disliked today. The whole political system from the city, county, state to federal is corrupt. This isn’t the America the Founders intended.

      • The good news is people are waking up and taking action. There are all sorts of grassroots movements starting up. It ain’t over till it’s over. People do take action when they get angry enough. Take away their pensions, jobs and homes… and people will get angry enough.

        • Good points “IF” they’re directly affected. Many people don’t want to get involved for fear something will be taken from them. That’s the difference I see in America today. Their philosophy is “why rock the boat”. These same people from the 60’s either are these people or are the very ones we complained about when we were young people. THEY turned into the establishment.

  4. Check out this letter written by David Eisenberg on their behalf.

    This is a fantastic letter written by David Eisenberg of DCAT in the USA –

    August 3, 2013

    Ben Pykett, Assistant Chief Executive
    Pembrokeshire County Council, County Hall
    Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, SA61 1TP

    Dear sir,

    Regarding the decision to require the demolition of Charlie Hague and Megan Williams home constructed without prior permission on the grounds that “There is a lack of proper justification for the benefits of the low-impact development in this case for this matter to be given sufficient weight and to outweigh the policies which seek to control development in the countryside.”

    Please allow me to identify myself. I am David Eisenberg, co-founder and Executive Director of the Development Center for Appropriate Technology in Tucson, Arizona USA ( I am a former residential and commercial building contractor, served 5 years as the founding Vice-Chair of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) E06.71 Subcommittee on Sustainability (now the full ASTM E60 Committee on Sustainability), served two terms on the national Board of Directors of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), am the recipient of a 1995 National Award from the World Organization of Building Officials for “Promotion of Innovative Indigenous Building Materials,” and the 2007 Affiliate of the Year Award from the International Code Council (ICC – the national organization of building officials in the US) and the 2007 national USGBC Leadership Award for Organizational Excellence, as well as serving on the original drafting committee for ICC’s inaugural 2012 International Green Construction Code, and have written, taught and lectured around the world for the past twenty years on sustainability and the built environment and particularly on the regulatory aspects and challenges.

    I write to you now after learning that the appeal to save Charlie Hague and Megan Williams home has been lost and there is a decree that it be demolished within two months. I want to plead with you to set aside this decision in the light of the degree to which this home is an exemplar of the very goals laid out in your national One Planet Development Practical Guidance Technical Advice Note 6 dated October 2012. In particular I point to the very purpose of the existence of this program:

    One Planet Development – the policy context

    1.5 The Welsh Government’s Sustainable Development Scheme, ‘One Wales: One Planet has an objective that within the lifetime of a generation, Wales should use only its fair share of the earth’s resources, with its ecological footprint reduced to the global average availability of resources of 1.88 global hectares per person (the global availability of resources in 2007). This is a very challenging but necessary target.

    and further:

    Essential characteristics of One Planet Development in the open countryside

    1.9 TAN 6, reflecting Planning Policy Wales, lays out a set of essential characteristics that all One Planet Developments in the open countryside must have. These are that One Planet Developments must:
    —Have a light touch on the environment – positively enhancing the environment where ever possible through activities on the site.
    —Be land based – the development must provide for the minimum needs of residents in terms of food, income, energy and waste assimilation in no more than five years.
    —Have a low ecological footprint – the development must have an initial ecological footprint of 2.4 global hectares per person or less with a clear potential to move to 1.88 global hectares per person over time – these are the Ecological Footprint Analysis benchmarks for all One Planet Development (para 2.11).
    —Have very low carbon buildings – these are stringent requirements, requiring that buildings are low in carbon in both construction and use.
    —Be defined and controlled by a binding management plan which is reviewed and updated every five years.
    —Be bound by a clear statement that the development will be the sole residence for the proposed occupants.

    The basis of my request that you set aside this ruling and reverse it is that while the above guidance was being developed, this couple engaged in exactly the desired activity – which was unfortunately at the time, illegal, and thus they could not have found any such official sanction, justification or support. Thus their offense is mainly one of timing, in that had they done precisely the same things once this national goal and guidance was in place, they would be national leaders in the effort to achieve crucial and nationally recognized objectives.

    The official statement that “There is a lack of proper justification for the benefits of the low-impact development in this case for this matter to be given sufficient weight and to outweigh the policies which seek to control development in the countryside.” flies directly in the face of the official position of the national government of Wales, as indicated in the above quoted sections.

    This is a miscarriage of both law and justice, as it represents a very tangible setback against this national goal, and in no way can be considered a positive step forward. As serious, in my view, the extent of the tragedy is not limited to this particular family but extends to the destructive and expanding view that governments are incapable of acting in the interests of ordinary citizens and only work for the preservation or expansion of power and control of the already wealthy and powerful – a view that has gained ascendency in my own country to the enormous detriment of all. Please do not give greater credence to those views by carrying out an act that may be rationalized by the technical application of the law but goes against common sense and reason, and in this case, the very goals that are largely achieved by the very thing being destroyed.

    Therefore, I ask out of my deepest sincerity as one who has worked with the regulatory regimes from local to national in the US for over twenty years to create positive change and enable exactly the exemplary kind of building that this couple has created, that you reconsider this and immediately withdraw the order to demolish so that a more thorough, and thoughtful process may proceed.

    Because such guidance for all future building projects of this nature now exists, there should be no fear that this action will set in place a precedent. The very situation that compelled this couple to build without approval has now been remedied.
    Thank you for considering this.

    Kind regards,

    David Eisenberg
    Executive Director
    Development Center for Appropriate Technology
    PO Box 27513
    Tucson, Arizona 85726-7513
    DCAT – Development Center for Appropriate Technology


    • Don’t know him but, I love this guy! NOW. let’s see if that common sense I mentioned earlier will step up and settle this in favor of these 2 young people. Let this also open the door for better homes being built with our planet thought of first and not a banker/developer etc.

      • I’m sure these council members know how to say all the right things about sustainability and saving our planet. Let’s see if they do the right thing in this case. Do they just talk the talk? Or do they walk the talk (do what they profess)?

        David Eisenberg is one of the top sustainable housing gurus. Here’s his website:

        • Yeah let’s see if they’ll do the right thing for the right reasons or if the other money people get to them before and greed takes them. Thanks for the site. It’s on my screen page now.

  5. There are several lessons to be learned from this.

    1. I have seen way too many stories of this type before, and every time I read another one, I want to vomit. (Not an exaggeration.) I genuinely feel sick when I see something this beautiful being attacked in this manner.

    2. Finding places to build with few or no building codes IS FUNDAMENTAL to cheap and affordable housing. It has been harped on repeatedly on this blog, and across the internet, but it’s being proven once again. Contrary to what the political class will say, it’s not the Federal or National governments that are the biggest thread to cheap and affordable housing, it’s the local governments. They are the ones with the city councils and other local governments that commit these types of travesties. Sadly, all too many local governments have been bought off, tricked, lied to, and manipulated into passing restrictive building codes to prevent people from building beautiful affordable housing with their own two hands.


    3. Sadly, many people attempt to “fly under the radar.” Many people take the risk and build what they want, without a permit, even though the local building codes prohibit the practice. This story is an example of what can happen to anyone that attempts this strategy.

    Please don’t fall into this trap. Even if the government doesn’t come after you right away, you’ll live the rest of your time in the house you worked so hard to build in fear. Fear that someone will report you. Fear that every time you hear a knock on the door that it will be a government official there to deliver legal papers forcing you out of your home.

    That’s no way to live. It’s not life. It’s not freedom. Don’t do this to yourself by choosing to try to “fly under the radar.” The stress and fear of government alone will take years off your life. It’s simply not worth it.

    4. God, please help this family.

    • I agree, although it must have been very tempting because they owned land near Lammas ecovillage.

      A lot of people can’t or don’t want to move to remote rural areas that typically have few services. It’s a tough choice.

        • Options are running out. I hear it’s difficult to get a mortgage now unless you have perfect credit, etc. etc. And even if you can afford a tract home, who wants to live in a place like that with the offgassing of chemicals and other drawbacks?

          • Mortgage?

            Why would anyone in their right mind want to get a mortgage in the first place?

            I know… I’m preaching to the choir here… but still.

    • Good point of view but, I’m still going deep off grid. I won’t allow county government to interfere. I don’t know them or support them. They serve no purpose to me. They support THEIR people but, I am NOT one of theirs. Again, they serve no purpose to or for me.

  6. I signed their petition with the hope that someone with an ounce of common sense will stand up for them in the court of decency. Councils are just that. A council of the few. They do not speak for the majority. They should be reined in and told that they are not Kings and Queens who have servants and slaves. THEY work for the majority and not business.

  7. I’m angry after reading this. This is a beautiful better built house than I would guess that these “officials” live in. This is just another example why I’m going deep off grid. I shouldn’t have to but, THIS kind of people are here to destroy a vision all in the name of greed.

    • The more beautiful and lower cost the house is the bigger the threat to the establishment. This nice little home cost $23,000. That price sends shivers down the spine of those who are milking the housing market.

      The council said the home is “harmful to the rural character of the locality”. I’m calling BS on that right now.

      People bought the hype of mass produced modern houses for decades, but now they’re waking up and discovering better alternatives. The masses have been told all their lives that new homes cost $100,000 or more. A $23,000 price tag will catch a lot of people’s attention. You can count on that. Countless millions (billions really) can’t afford a decent home.

  8. How about a petition to demolish some of the unsightly homes the city council members live in? They almost certainly contain all sorts of toxic materials that endanger the local community and stress the natural environment.

  9. Charlie and Meg have a petition they are asking us to sign to save their home on Or you can go to Natural Homes page and follow the link.

  10. No doubt bankers, realtors and local building professionals consider this home very dangerous — dangerous to their careers. Who wouldn’t want a house like this that costs a fraction of the bloated price people currently have to pay? And, it’s just oozing with character unlike the soulless mass produced housing that’s on the market.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.