News, Culture & Society

Couple who built mud-hut Hobbit home say they’ll leave the country

A couple claim they have been ‘bullied’ out of the Hobbit-style mud hut they built to combat an allergy to modern life.

Nature-loving Kate Burrows, 46, and her partner Alan, 48, have left the unique home they fashioned out of the earth, tree trunks and straw after a council took enforcement action against them.

Kate says she was forced out of her previous rented house by permanent flu-like symptoms as she was allergic to the mains water, electricity, wi-fi and even the paint on the walls at a 21st century home.

She suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and claimed that living in the pre-modern hut in Tarka Valley, near Chumleigh, Devon, for the past three years has completely restored her health.

But North Devon Council ordered them to dismantle their hut and leave as they didn’t have planning permission.

Kate Burrows, 46, and her partner Alan, 48, claim they were bullied’ out of their Hobbit-style mud in Devon 

Their home has a hand pump brought water from the river for washing, solar panels on the roof provided power and the couple kept chickens, goats and geese

Their home has a hand pump brought water from the river for washing, solar panels on the roof provided power and the couple kept chickens, goats and geese

Kate says she was forced out of her previous rented house by permanent flu-like symptoms as she was allergic to the mains water, electricity, wi-fi and even the paint on the walls at a 21st century home

Kate says she was forced out of her previous rented house by permanent flu-like symptoms as she was allergic to the mains water, electricity, wi-fi and even the paint on the walls at a 21st century home

And the pair, who have lived on the smallholding since 2015, said they were now fleeing Britain altogether and moving to Ireland where they say 'farming and low-impact living is embraced' 

And the pair, who have lived on the smallholding since 2015, said they were now fleeing Britain altogether and moving to Ireland where they say ‘farming and low-impact living is embraced’ 

And the pair, who have lived on the smallholding since 2015, said they were now fleeing Britain altogether and moving to Ireland where they say ‘farming and low-impact living is embraced’.

Revealing the decision on Twitter, the couple said: ‘It is with sadness that we announce that North Devon nimby council have bullied us into removing our home, and prevented us from running an agricultural business on our own agricultural land.’ 

Kate admitted that she had previously been offered a Travelodge by the council but turned it down as she said living there would make her ill.

She later added in her statement about leaving: ‘Nimby North Devon Council and witch hunt neighbours have succeeded in bullying us to take down our beautiful home and prevent us from running an agricultural business on our own agricultural land.

‘Therefore we are going to emigrate to Ireland where farming and low impact lifestyles are encouraged.

‘We have decided to keep our land as a nature reserve, but if the council and neighbours continue to bully us further we will sell the land to people who will be the problem they’ve made us out to be.

‘In the mean time, our nice neighbours, friends and family will be looking after our land.’ 

The couple appealed the council's decision citing illness from a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), but this was rejected

The couple appealed the council’s decision citing illness from a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), but this was rejected

Revealing the decision on Twitter, the couple said: 'It is with sadness that we announce that North Devon nimby council have bullied us into removing our home, and prevented us from running an agricultural business on our own agricultural land' 

Revealing the decision on Twitter, the couple said: ‘It is with sadness that we announce that North Devon nimby council have bullied us into removing our home, and prevented us from running an agricultural business on our own agricultural land’ 

The couple spent six weeks building the hut on their smallholding after Kate said living in a modern home 'was like having flu all the time'

The couple spent six weeks building the hut on their smallholding after Kate said living in a modern home ‘was like having flu all the time’

Their home had an outside compost toilet, kitchen, living area and two bedrooms 

Their home had an outside compost toilet, kitchen, living area and two bedrooms 

North Devon Council say the couple have broken planning laws by building the medieval-style hovel - reminiscent of homes in the hit Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films - where Kate and Alan keep goats and chickens

North Devon Council say the couple have broken planning laws by building the medieval-style hovel – reminiscent of homes in the hit Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films – where Kate and Alan keep goats and chickens

She continued: ‘Going to miss all the lovely friends we’ve made here in Devon and all the wonderful people we’ve worked with.

‘We will be continuing to campaign to get planning laws changed for low impact dwellings for land based workers and bring an end to the ignorance and prejudice a lot of nimbys seem to feel it’s acceptable to enforce on good honest people.’

The couple had appealed the council’s decision citing illness from a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), but this was rejected. 

MCS is a chronic, physical illness that causes sufferers to have allergic-type reactions to very low levels of chemicals in everyday products.

It causes the immune and detoxification systems to stop working properly and the body cannot process toxins efficiently. 

North Devon Council say the couple have broken planning laws by building the medieval-style hovel – reminiscent of homes in the hit Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films – where Kate and Alan keep goats, geese and chickens.

The couple spent six weeks building the hut on their smallholding after Kate said living in a modern home ‘was like having flu all the time’.

Their home had an outside compost toilet, kitchen, living area and two bedrooms. 

The pair had businesses selling willow baskets and other goods, as well as supplying young saplings for river bank reinforcement

The pair had businesses selling willow baskets and other goods, as well as supplying young saplings for river bank reinforcement

Their home was topped with tonnes of turf and the walls were lined with lime mortar. Alongside one wall was a bath supplied with hot water from a makeshift boiler

Their home was topped with tonnes of turf and the walls were lined with lime mortar. Alongside one wall was a bath supplied with hot water from a makeshift boiler

North Devon Council said it was 'supportive of sustainable development' but it 'does not mean allowing people to develop wherever they wish'

North Devon Council said it was ‘supportive of sustainable development’ but it ‘does not mean allowing people to develop wherever they wish’

It was topped with tonnes of turf and the walls were lined with lime mortar. Alongside one wall was a bath supplied with hot water from a makeshift boiler.

Outside a hand pump brought water from the river for washing, solar panels on the roof provided power and the couple kept their animals. 

The pair had businesses selling willow baskets and other goods, as well as supplying young saplings for river bank reinforcement.

Reacting to the couple’s announcement on Facebook, Sparkle Smith said: ‘So sorry to hear your news, I hope you flourish in Ireland.

‘I look forward to hearing about all your new adventures I shall miss imagining you living in the heart of the Devon countryside.’

Jo Griffiths said: ‘Really sad you are going. Wishing you a happy and healthy future in Ireland.’

North Devon Council said it was ‘supportive of sustainable development’ but it ‘does not mean allowing people to develop wherever they wish’.

A spokesman added: ‘It is clearly not in the public interest to have houses and other structures springing up across the countryside without any permissions being obtained’.  

OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD: WHAT IS MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY? 

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, ‘chemicals’ in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur.

What sets an MCS patient apart from other allergy sufferers is that they react to both large and minuscule levels of irritants. 

Sometimes these levels are so low that others are completely unaware that there’s anything potentially troublesome in the vicinity. 

Unlike true allergies, where the underlying mechanisms of the problem are relatively well understood and widely accepted, MCS is generally regarded as ‘idiopathic’ – meaning that it has no known mechanism of causation and its processes are not fully understood.  

MCS expert Dr Lisa Nagy says that as much as three to five per cent of the population are ‘disabled’ by chemical sensitivity.

Dr Nagy also believes that 30 per cent of elderly people are sensitive to chemicals.

She explained that while the illness is common, most people do not know about it when it starts and thus do not know what to call their symptoms.

Dr Nagy said that toxic exposures in one’s home, school or place of work can trigger the disease.

She pointed out the following locations as places of danger for MCS patients:

  • the detergent aisle of the grocery store 
  • in close proximity to a friend’s perfume 
  • in close proximity to diesel 
  • exhaust smoking sections of public places 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.