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Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

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So, is the council right? Are there sound reasons to evict the Masons?

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Adrian on 9th July 2011, 12:24 pm

Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:Probably yes, so are you suggesting that 'wanting to to live on v]greenbelt land' should replace 'needing to live on land' as the criterion for planning applications? In that case I shall move onto mine immediately.

No, of course not, I should think that you know me better than that. I do, however think that we as a society should be supporting those who wish to self support and in a time when we are approaching Peak well everything, food oil water etc, then a family who want to live in a van on the land that they have carefully restored, nurtured and are putting to good use, should be allowed to. Everyone seems to go on about the current economic climate and how belt tightening is needed and yet seem quite happy to move people who currently take nothing into the welfare system..

I know full well that planning laws are an ass, I also know full well how corrupt planning officialdom is, If Stig and Dinah had been nice middle class banker folk, the chances are they would have been looked on more favorably than than the alternative types they are.

Not wishing to come across all Daily Heil, but they are self supporting, take nothing from the state and wish to remain so - removing them from their home and property seems to mean that the council want to put them in a council flat and offer them fast food vouchers - whose interests does that serve?

Well from what I have read, they have the support of the local community as well, so maybe a case will be made by local community interests.

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Adrian on 9th July 2011, 12:57 pm

A quote from Dinah and Stigs [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

"We had a choice of squandering our lives stagnating on a council estate in the suburbs of London, or taking a leap of faith and moving our family somewhere to get in touch with nature and the rhythms of the seasons.

"We want a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our children, giving them the best start we can offer. Building our own home, working with the land to run an organic smallholding that gives back to the community of which it is part, we feel is the better of the two lives.

“We are restoring a traditional orchard, hay meadows, and hedgerows to restore the special landscape and celebrate the rich working history of the ancient veteran trees rich in wildlife and wild flowers.

“The restoration of the orchard apples will produce fruit for ourselves and the local community and will serve as example to other landowners in our area who might wish to restore their orchards. The remaining few trees of our traditional orchards will be land managed. We wish to create a wildlife enhancement scheme ensuring the long-term social and environmental and economical sustainability of Muxbeare Orchard."

I have to say that they have my support more than ever

---

I have been thinking about the point about setting precedents while I was showering. I agree that there are risks here, but seems absurd that in the UKs rule bound planning culture that we have to disallow one thing in order to prevent another - we run the risk of only the very wealthy being allowed to live on and own land and make no concession for people who live less conventional lives...

There is also an opportunity for good precedents to be set as well, why is it not possible to use this case (and the many other like it) to set out new rules that govern smallholdings like this and set some good precedents that allow this kind of development without opening the door to the McMansion/Barrett/Te$co property developer set?


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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by frankbeswick on 9th July 2011, 1:02 pm

My support for these people is more confirmed than ever. Theirs is exactly the right philosophy of life. Think of how they could co-operate with local schools, using their plot to demonstrate the importance of a self-sufficient, holistic lifestyle to children. This way their plot could be a major local amenity.
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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Adrian on 9th July 2011, 1:40 pm

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Hairyloon on 9th July 2011, 5:09 pm

Have I missed something?
The law allows for people to live on the land if there is an agricultural need for them to be there.
Some livestock creates such a need... I don't know what, but it is clearly more than a few chickens.
Why don't these people simply create the need: get whatever livestock it is that requires that kind of attention?
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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by AngelinaJellyBeana on 9th July 2011, 5:11 pm

Hmm
I did vote for the first choice, and still think the law could/should be changed, but I'm more inclined now to agree with Billy and CW

I live on a council estate but I'm certainly not "stagnating" and to be honest I find that comment extremely insulting, just because people live on a council estate doesn't mean they are all dole scrounging scum bags, which is STILL what people in this country think Evil or Very Mad
anyway, that's beside the point....

why couldn't they move off the land and live in whatever house they are offered? They can still work the land, Dinah works and I expect they are claiming family tax credits, but why can't Stig work?
It may be slightly harder for them having to travel to their plot of land but Billy & Mrs R do it, AND work AND look after their delightful children so why can't Dinah & Stig??


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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Compostwoman on 9th July 2011, 5:51 pm

What AJB said Very Happy

And I don't think living on a council estate means people are automatically squandering their lives...

My neighbours have lived in a mobile home for as long as we have been here (14 years) and have around 3000 chickens for free range egg production and around 30 acres of farmed arable land. It IS a business which needs someone on hand 24/7 while the hens are there - if there is a breakdown on the egg laying belt it has to be fixed asap etc

They have just finished a house build - but it took a long time for them to build up the financial proof that they had a viable business before they could even apply for and get planning permision. And the house has an agricultural tie on it - so if the farming business stops the house has to be vacated.

So I do symathise with the Masons BUT I don't see why they need to live on their land to work it, nor why they have to give up working their land, if they cannot live on it any more - after all they live in a converted lorry so could presumably move it to somewhere nearby without pulling the children out of school, moving into B and B accomodation, etc.

it just doesn't seem to add up to me, somehow.

But yes I do think the law needs to be changed, or at least made a bit more flexible.

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Lottie on 9th July 2011, 6:23 pm

I have to agree with Billy too... I don't see where this would end?
From a personal point of view, since the 1970s we'd been trying to get planning permission to build a small house on land we also owned that had been a part of dad's farm. I grew my veg/fruit/greenhouse there in later years and had to drive/cycle 4 m either way (not far but hard with 4 teeny kids then...).
It was already agricultural land, it had barns and buildings on it, and for over 40 years my family had been turned down for planning permissions. I could have easily gone ahead and built anyway, my neighbour then was a builder and was constantly eggging me on...but I didn't... because without boundaires then anarchy reigns, in my view, and what is then to stop anyone who fancies it, setting up anywhere?
Green spaces and the character of villages/country life is on the decline in my opinion. Fair enough, their set up looks amazing and I do really feel for them, but where would it stop? They had been turned down, and chose to build anyway.
Our ideas of living outside society are all different, so I feel that there has to be one rule to fit all, sorry, I really do. We choose the life we lead as do those who decide that building a concrete box and filling it with vases and TVs is the way forward. It doesn't make out choices right, just our choices.... so who decides? I can't see any other way without opening the doors to everyone to build whatever, however they choose.

I sold my land and it broke my heart.

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by frankbeswick on 9th July 2011, 6:53 pm

The comments are fair and thoughtful. Most of us must travel to work, and allotment holders, such as me, have to journey to their plots. I would love to live on my own land and till it. Yet, I would like to see this couple succeed.
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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Lottie on 9th July 2011, 7:00 pm

frankbeswick wrote:The comments are fair and thoughtful. Most of us must travel to work, and allotment holders, such as me, have to journey to their plots. I would love to live on my own land and till it. Yet, I would like to see this couple succeed.

I'm not denying that it's not difficult, and yes, wow it would be lovely. But isn't it because they seem to share our ideals and life choices that you wish them to succeed?

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by frankbeswick on 9th July 2011, 7:32 pm

Quite correct,Lottie, to a point. I do want people who share my ideals and way of life to succeed, but I generally wish people well and hope to see them succeed in whatever they do, subject to the obvious constraints of justice and environmental concerns.
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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Dinah on 10th July 2011, 1:33 pm

This is obviously a contentious issue and one that we feel strongly about!
In answer to some of the points raised:
We feel that permaculture green lifestyles need to be provided for within planning policy and at present when councils talke about sustainability they mean economic not enviromental, this needs to change. History shows that unless people are allowed to stand up and be counted laws never change, escpeacially ones that will create no financial gain to those in charge.
Tesco and other big business are allowed to pay their way in, we would not be settign a precedent for them, their precedents have already been set...offer to repave roads or buy a play park and they can do what they like.
Stig and I have offered to sign a legally binding document that states we cannot profit from any dwelling allowed on the site and if us or our descendants are not living or working on the land then the house needs to be taken down and only the land can be sold. Thus setting a high precedent for others wishing to follow....we believe that the small pockets of agricultrual land all over the country would be far better used in the way we are doing than being left to turn into scrub land, which is how ours was when we arrived.
The land is not green belt land it is termed as open countryside, we sit 80m outside of the settlement boundary, have neighbours on either side, and industrial estate at the top of the road, but is deemed in law the same as Dartmoor, NewForest etc.
Did not wish to cause offence with any of the comments on our website, there is nothing wrong with living on a council estate or house, but when you wish to live your life in an enviromentally sensitive way and the council wont even let you keep chickens or install a woodburner it is incredibly difficult to live to your ethics. We had the chance to take ourselves out of the poverty trap we were in and grabbed it with both hands. We were more scared of the prospect of leading the life we had for the next 20yrs than moving our life to Devon.
As for Stig getting a job...tell a full time mother that she needs to get a job you will be shot down immeadiately, why is it different for men? And if Stig got a job then we would be working to pay for our kids to be in childcare, where is the sense in that? Presently we support ourselves.
The reason we face prison is because a penal notice has been attached to the injunction, and we could be found in contempt of court which carries a maximum sentence (I believe) of 2 years.
We cannot just move into the truck and leave the land because the truck limped to Devon and will not move anywhere.
The reason we have found it difficult to prove an agricultrual need is because we have taken the last 2yrs clearing 4 acres of nettles, thistles, brambles etc, it is only just becoming a useable piece of agricultrual land that could support animals etc, if we had not been on the land and both in paid employment we would still be in that clearing process, but as the policies state what was here before was all in the name of conservation. We can now start to try and prove an agricultrual need but the council do not believe that 4 acres is enough land to support a family of four, even though that is what we have been doing for the past 2 years.
We believe that what we are doing is the right thing to do, I wish to be able to look my kids in the eye in 10yrs time and tell them truthfully that we tried to give them a better life and that we didnt just sit back and watch the planet burn! One day people in power will have to see that the life we are trying to lead is the way forward.
What will you do when you cant afford your fuel bills?
What will you do when clean water is scarce?
What will you do when the oil runs out?
We are trying to provide a future for our family and make life easier for those who wish to live an enviromentally sensitive life but havent got the money to pay for it.
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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

Post by Adrian on 10th July 2011, 1:38 pm

Thank you Dinah

I appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us

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Post by frankbeswick on 10th July 2011, 2:04 pm

Of course, four acres might not support a family, but how many families can live on one wage anyway? Even in the fifties when my Dad was a bus conductor, we struggled on one wage. So the argument that the application should be denied because the land is too small is insufficient to support a family is not a good one.

You made a telling point, Dinah, that the land was turning to scrub. That is what happens to England when it is not tilled. Without farmers, in a hundred years Britain would be wildwood again. Beautiful green fields are not the product of nature but of nurture. You cannot conserve land by neglecting it. By tilling what was once farm land you are conserving it.

True, indeed, is the point that work is not necessarily for money. This was the enormous mistake made by economists in the past. Unpaid work homemakers is a vast contribution to human well being. Stig seems to be working very hard, as are you, Dinah.

Try to turn you story into a book, as it make you some cash. There are some good print on demand publishers who might be interested. As a writer I can think of a couple of them. Just pm me if you need to know.
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Post by bronze on 10th July 2011, 4:47 pm

Thank you for coming on
franks right, you write well, there may be something in it for you.

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Post by Lottie on 10th July 2011, 4:51 pm

Badger wrote:Thank you Dinah

I appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us

Thank you, Dinah for taking the time out to post.
I still feel the same way, for the reasons I stated. I just don't believe you can individualise planning in a Island country with many feeling just as strongly about their way of life as you do about yours. I feel differently, as do others, so without a generalised planning system how do you regulate it? I guess this is such a personal subject to many that it'll end up going round in circles, so I shall bow out and go for a cuppa and cake...

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Post by Dinah on 10th July 2011, 5:07 pm

Not too sure about the whole writing a book idea, feel that it would take time I do not have at the moment, what with work commitments and the whole struggle to live as we please! Maybe once its all over I can put pen to paper!

I also think that a generalized planning system is probably the only way to go for such a small island, but one that has provision for "green" building and one that is able to look at the individual cases on their merits, not just about ticking boxes. This is why we are fighting as the regulations need updating for the 21st Century.
We need to send the message to our children that "green" living is the future. Not some marginalised idea lived out by those on the edges of society.
Enjoy your cake, I have just taken bread from the oven so warm bread and jam for me.XXX
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Post by Jaded Green on 10th July 2011, 6:59 pm

Dinah,

Very interested to hear your account and best of luck for the future

As Kermit says, "it's not easy being green"!
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default If the worse comes to the worse

Post by pbrennan42 on 10th July 2011, 7:50 pm

If they lose I would advise them to sell their land and move to Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria land is dirt cheap - I am looking at a one bed cottage with 1/4 acre of land for £3,200. You either have to have lived there for five years before you're allowed to buy property OR start a business over there and buy it under that name. The government tends to leave you alone in Bulgaria, and planning permission is easier to obtain. Also, with kids, schooling them in Bulgaria means they would have to pick up a second language, which would immediately push their IQs up at least 20 points.

Many of my peers have already done this or are looking at doing this.

Ideally, I would love to see them win in their battle with the council, but having other options is good just in case.

Regards,

Phil.
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Post by Hairyloon on 12th July 2011, 1:57 am

Dinah wrote:We cannot just move into the truck and leave the land because the truck limped to Devon and will not move anywhere.
No disrespect, but I bellieve that is just an excuse.
If I had the choice of moving a broken down lorry or going to jail and making my family homeless... then I think I'd go borrow a tractor.
We can now start to try and prove an agricultrual need but the council do not believe that 4 acres is enough land to support a family of four, even though that is what we have been doing for the past 2 years.
Is that the actual problem? I had understood the sticking point was the need to be on the land.
We are trying to provide a future for our family and make life easier for those who wish to live an enviromentally sensitive life but havent got the money to pay for it.
Best of luck.
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Post by frankbeswick on 12th July 2011, 8:04 am

The way that I see it is that you are trying to be self-sufficient in food. but to make your plan sustainable in the council's eyes you need a business that produces cash. So you will have to think more widely to give yourself cash producing extras. You could grow mushrooms in sheds or tunnels. You could do some nursery work, selling a specialist range of plants to the public. See how this builds up. There could be other schemes that I have not thought of. But what you want is something that uses a small area of land intensively for a good profit. If you must move to a house, use the lorry as part of your amenity. It can be an office.

Stig now is an experienced grower. Why does he not add to his portfolio by offering gardening services, basing himself at your plot as his business address? In an ideal world we would not think of profit, but this is the real world. Without a good set of profits we struggle.

You are both still young enough to take on a heavy workload to make the business work. All businesses require much work to make them succeed. You might not take up all these opportunities, but some, maybe one or two, might be of use to you.

Good luck
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Post by Lottie on 12th July 2011, 9:35 am

Dinah wrote:I also think that a generalized planning system is probably the only way to go for such a small island, but one that has provision for "green" building and one that is able to look at the individual cases on their merits, not just about ticking boxes. This is why we are fighting as the regulations need updating for the 21st Century.

I think that it would cost a phenomenal amount to sort through each planning case individually, and the time it would take too would be momentous...the money just isn't there...I think you still come across the problem of who is, or what is the right way to decide when looking at individual cases?

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Post by Hairyloon on 12th July 2011, 11:25 am

frankbeswick wrote:Stig now is an experienced grower. Why does he not add to his portfolio by offering gardening services, basing himself at your plot as his business address?
That would not help the planning consideration as it is the land that must provide the living.
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Post by frankbeswick on 12th July 2011, 11:33 am

Good point. However, while I would like them to get their dream, the second best is to live as near as possible to the plot. There is the problem that we often want everything immediately. Ok, it would be nice, but often we have to work towards our goal, making slow progress, dealing with setbacks until we get as near to what we want as we can.
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Post by Chilli-head on 12th July 2011, 12:14 pm

Lottie wrote:
Dinah wrote:I also think that a generalized planning system is probably the only way to go for such a small island, but one that has provision for "green" building and one that is able to look at the individual cases on their merits, not just about ticking boxes. This is why we are fighting as the regulations need updating for the 21st Century.

I think that it would cost a phenomenal amount to sort through each planning case individually, and the time it would take too would be momentous...the money just isn't there...I think you still come across the problem of who is, or what is the right way to decide when looking at individual cases?

Interesting to read Dinah's comments. Obviously they are fully aware of what they are up against and are trying to make a point.

Dinah does mention one of the things that annoys me, and is actually a result of the flexibility in the current planning rules; which is that the likes of Tesco (or Center parcs in our area) can smooth the way to permission by offering bribes contributions to the planners in the form of donations towards the cost of a cycle way, play area etc. Taking this as an example, I fear that a more flexible planning system might be worse in favouring big business !

I do have some sympathy. About a week ago I was at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], and I was very impressed by the set up - a smallish farm growing a whole range of fruit and veg, with a farm shop, box scheme, PYO and restaurant customers. The sort of artisan produce I think lots of people are really hoping for when they buy organic or local produce. Great business - but what an entry price to start out into that sort of thing, even on a rather smaller scale. It would be nice to see more people able to do things on a small scale.
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default Latest news on this family's situation rom thisisdevon

Post by ThisisDevon on 12th July 2011, 12:34 pm

Hello

Just thought you might all be interested in the latest story regarding the Mason family.

Here is the link: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Many thanks for all your comments and support.

ThisisDevon
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ThisisDevon

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Join date : 2011-07-12

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default Re: Devon Family Living 'off Grid' and Facing Eviction!

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