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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Demolition for 'lost tribe' eco house
The Roundhouse
The Roundhouse cost just 3,000 to build
A Lord of the Rings-style grass-roofed roundhouse built by eco-villagers known as "the lost tribe" must be demolished by mid-summer.

Members of Pembrokeshire National Park said the decision on Wednesday was made with a "heavy heart and sympathy" but that no other option was available because the structure contravened planning laws.

The ruling brings to a close a saga which began when an entire community - who had eschewed the trappings of the modern living - was spotted by the pilot of an aircraft flying over the 165-acre site in rural west Wales.

Jane Faith
The house was built for Mr Wrench and partner Jane Faith

Among them was former local government official Tony Wrench who built the turf-covered roundhouse - resembling the home of Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings - as a home for himself and partner Jane.

An 18-month temporary planning permission he won for the structure at Brithdir Mawr, in Pembrokeshire, is now coming to an end and planning officials recommended the park authority orders its demolition.

Made up of timbers cut from a nearby sustainable wood along with natural and biodegradable materials, the home generates all its own power.

The village was set up in 1993 by architectural historian Julian Orbach and his wife Emma in the foothills of Mynydd Carningli.

No one - including Pembrokeshire National Park - realised the community existed until it was spotted by a plane doing an aerial survey about four years ago.

When authority officials went to investigate, they discovered a community of about a dozen adults, some with children, living contentedly and quite comfortably off the land.

Hydro unit
A hydro unit supplies power to the community

Insisting on their rights to lead an alternative lifestyle, the villagers became known as "the lost tribe".

But the entire settlement had been built without planning permission and after a series of initial demolition orders were dropped, in January 2001 the park insisted Mr Wrench pull down his turf-roofed building because it failed to conform to strict planning regulations.

Following a successful appeal to the Welsh Assembly, he was given an 18-month stay of execution.

Mr Wrench has insisted that the roundhouse is the sort of low impact dwelling that should be encouraged.

"We are not messing about here," he said.

"We are working hard to improve the landscape and the land."

Brithdir Mawr has been included in an assembly review on low-impact development.

Mr Wrench wanted planning permission for a further two years until the assembly comes to a decision on its policy.

Other homes at Brithdir Mawr have been given retrospective planning permission.

See also:

08 Nov 00 | Wales
Eco house may have to go
09 Mar 01 | UK
The land that time forgot
23 Feb 00 | UK
Home sweet alternative home
21 Mar 00 | Wales
Wool insulation may aid farmers
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