Father writes in support of 'off-grid' family facing eviction from their own land
The father of a man whose family is fighting to remain on land in Willand says it is time Mid Devon District Council showed flexibility and left them to get on with their lives.
Brian Mason has written to Cllr Peter Hare-Scott, the authority's leader, in support of Stig and Dinah who want to live a carbon neutral lifestyle at Muxbeare Orchard.
The couple, now living in a tent away from the site, have transformed what was a neglected, overgrown four-acre plot into a smallholding boasting chickens, a 400 sq m allotment and an orchard since 2009.
But the couple, who have two young boys, Dali and Yosse, face eviction as planners say the site is solely for agricultural use and they are not permitted to live there in a converted horsebox.
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Brian, an area highway manager for Hertfordshire County Council, who supports legislation that prevents unlawful development, said: "However, there comes a time when a piece of land that has lain neglect for many, many years on the very edge of the community, can be put to some good use and provide a loving home for a family who are desperately trying to avoid the poverty trap and dependency on the state."
Stig and Dinah, 34 and 35 respectively, lost an appeal against the council's refusal to allow them to live on and work the land a year ago.
They are now in the process of appealing a rejected planning application to build a "low impact" dwelling made mostly from organic materials on the site.
Brian said a barn, situated adjacent to their Bedford truck home, has had its roof re-laid and is now used as a watertight storage area for produce and wood used for heating. Electricity is supplied by solar panels and a small turbine but the site is connected to mains water.
Brian added: "It is now time that the council used a bit of flexibility and allowed them to get on with their chosen life, which includes their involvement with the community.
"My son works the land with his family and takes care of their accommodation, cooking, getting the children to school, while his wife works as a carer in the community. This way, he releases the job he could have to somebody else in the area. The alternative is to be a burden on society, costing all of us more in taxes."
An injunction to leave the land within 28 days from June 1 was served by a County Court judge and the council says Stig and Dinah are not permitted to live on the land but they can continue to take a crop.
A planning inspector supports their eviction and dismissed Stig and Dinah's appeal.
A spokesman for the council said: "We will continue to seek to uphold the resolution of the planning committee to stop the breach of planning control.
"I can confirm that a planning enforcement officer made a visit to the site on Monday, July 4, but I am not prepared at this stage to give any further details about what further action the council may take."
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