'Hobbit house' plans rejected

By Zoie O'Brien

A plan to build a so-called ‘hobbit house’ has been blocked. 

Ongar estate agent John Sear hoped to transform the site of former pigsties in Coppice Farm, Theydon Bois, into a five-bedroom, eco-friendly home and appealed against a decision by Epping Firest District Council to reject his proposal.

But Planning Inspector Graham Dudley dismissed the appeal, despite praising the design.

He said: “The appellant has produced a good quality design, utilising technology to minimise carbon impact.”

But said that it did not: “amount to the very special circumstances necessary to clearly outweigh the harm caused by inappropriateness in the Green Belt”.

The Council's District Development Control Committee refused permission for the development in January 2013.

Dr John Warren, chairman of the Theydon Bois Action Group welcomed the Planning Inspectorate's decision.

He said: “This is an important landmark decision by the Planning Inspectorate, which sets a clear precedent against any development of this type being carried out in the Green Belt.

“Theydon Bois Action Group is reassured that the important Green Belt Policies in our Local Plan continue to be upheld by the Government's Planning Inspectorate.”

Mr Sear, of Ambleside in Epping, previously described it as a ‘hobbit house’ as it would have been ‘low-lying’ from the road.
  
As well as a grass roof, plans for the house included a ground-source heating system, which used pipes buried in a home’s garden to carry heat from the earth to radiators.
 

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