Buying some land and living on it.

Anything to do with environmental building projects.
Yurty
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Buying some land and living on it.

Post: #59473 Yurty
Thu May 31, 2007 12:28 pm

Hello everybody.
First post so here goes.

I've been toying with the idea of buying a piece of land somewhere, putting a yurt on it and living there in as self-sufficient way as possible for a while now but I'm a bit unsure how viable this is in the UK especially if you don't have a big pot of money.

I was surprised to see there doesn't seem to be a shortage of cheap land, even in the UK, but of course that cheap land doesn't have planning permission or comes with rules relating to how long you can live on it and what you can do with it (woods/forests in particular).

Does anyone know if it would ever be possible to get permission to put a yurt, a platform, maybe some outbuildings on a piece of land and live there permanently even if other forms of building would/have been rejected?
Is there a way of finding this out without actually buying the land?
Is running a small-holding/campsite considered agriculture?
(A lot of the cheap land looks like it would be considered agricultural)

Or could you just put your yurt up behind some trees and just hope no one ever finds it? :lol:

I have many more questions... but it would be great to hear how other people have managed to do it.

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Post: #59477 Archie
Thu May 31, 2007 12:40 pm

Hi Yurty, not quite the same thing, but Ben Law had the devil of a job to get permission to build a log house....Permaculture magazine has more info...also book free from the library.

http://www.ben-law.co.uk/

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Post: #59484 red
Thu May 31, 2007 1:42 pm

hi and welcome


dunno the answers to your questions - sorry - I imagine it is not a simple process
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Post: #59492 Archie
Thu May 31, 2007 2:39 pm

Tepees in Wales rings a bell. Google see what you find. Legal battle, don't know the outcome.

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Post: #59495 Muddypause
Thu May 31, 2007 2:51 pm

I second Archie's mention of Ben Law's place. He has gone down into folk history for his house. It featured on an episode of Grand Designs, and caught a lot of people's imagination, not least because it only cost him £28,000 to build (plus a lot of hard work and help from friends and volunteers), not including the land which he already owned.

But there was, apparently, a ten year battle with the planners before he got permission to build. The PP was conditional upon the fact that he worked the woodland for a living, and also required that if he ever moves out, the house has to be destroyed (I believe this latter condition has now been lifted).

I would guess that the most famous UK project that has attempted to find an alternative way through the planning laws is Tipi Valley in Wales, which started in the early '80s, and has been one long battle with the planning authorities ever since. But they are still there, having survived countless enquiries, planning appeals, court orders, and other attempts to get them off the land. The residents there own the land, but their right to live there permanently has always been in dispute. The person who set it all up in the first place was Brig Oubridge (sp?), who I believe is the man behind the Big Green Gathering festival.

Another well known example is That Roundhouse (very interesting site), a hand made, cobwood house in Wales. They too have been threatened with eviction orders for many years, but it seems now that Pembrokeshire has had a change of policy regarding low impact building, and That Roundhouse may get a reprieve after all.

I recently heard about Caroline Berry's strawbale house near Glastonbury. She, too, has had a planning battle, though she does seem to have found a narrow route through the minefield. Unfortunately the house was recently burned down (apparently there are suspicious circumstances - and ironically, the straw walls were the parts that survived best). She is now required to reapply for PP all over again in order to rebuild her house.

The topic of living hidden away in the woods has come up on here before, and I'm sure many people have thoughts along those lines. The trouble with agricultural land or forestry, is that it is next to impossible to get PP to change its use into residential land unless there is some major government-level scheme for a whole new housing development. I have a friend with a smallholding, but it is land only, and he just cannot get permission to build a house on it; even if he could there would almost certainly be conditions requiring that he can show he is employed in agriculture, and will derive a livelihood from the land. This may change as the village it is in develops and grows, but this is a distant prospect. I guess it must happen in places, but it is rare. You may have more success if you buy somewhere with a derelict house already on it, so there is already evidence of established residential use. But in this case the land will be valued higher accordingly, so it may not be the answer to your problem.

There are people who pursue an alternative, but the risks are high, and in practical terms it is probably impossible to do it completely hidden away – you will need to have access to your home, maybe including vehicle access; you will have to mix with the local community for some things; what will you do about a postal address; what about water supplies and waste; keeping warm in winter will require fuel, and even if this is locally collected wood, you will still make smoke which may alert officialdom to your presence. And if you go so far as building something, are you up for a decade or two battling with the authorities (and maybe even the locals, too), and will you be prepared to see your home torn down if it all goes against you?

Personally, I'm coming round to the idea that getting a few like-minded people together, and combining resources is the only way forward in today's insane property world.

I've just Googled this site, which looks mighty interesting. And of course the Diggers And Dreamers site (and book) may be interesting to you, as may the Co-Housing Network.

I've also just seen that the links page on the That Roundhouse site links to SS-ish!

Edit: mended the broken link to the Co-Housing Network
Last edited by Muddypause on Thu May 31, 2007 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post: #59506 Clara
Thu May 31, 2007 4:16 pm

Stuff the UK and move to Spain! A yurt is considered a temporary structure and is therefore not subject to consent. There are hundreds of people living like this nearby.

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Post: #59508 Archie
Thu May 31, 2007 4:37 pm

WOW...some research that Stew.
Seems, Yurty you would need legal training just to erect a tent.
At Bedlam Bridge on the 16ft River, The fens, recently a 4 bay stables, in which a family lived was demolished as having no planning permission.
And to my certain knowledge, immigrants are living in the local woods, whilst working on the farms.

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Post: #59514 Muddypause
Thu May 31, 2007 5:08 pm

Archie wrote:Seems, Yurty you would need legal training just to erect a tent.

What seems common to the examples we hear about is that people bought the land and built their homes first, and then had the battle with the authorities - years later many of them are still there, with some evidence of progress against the officials. But it does seem to be an enormous struggle, though, with no certainty of the outcome.

Of course, there may be no end of others that we never hear about, who fell at the first fence.

And to my certain knowledge, immigrants are living in the local woods, whilst working on the farms.

Aye, it goes on here, too. I see it as a sad endictment of a society who's crocked economy is propped up by people like these, who provide cheap labour, enable consumers to buy cheap goods, spend money in our shops, but are ostracised by finance or prejudice, and not allowed to become part of the society they contribute to. Choosing to live like that is one thing - not having any other options is a terrible comment.
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Post: #59520 catalyst
Thu May 31, 2007 6:10 pm

Clara wrote:Stuff the UK and move to Spain! A yurt is considered a temporary structure and is therefore not subject to consent. There are hundreds of people living like this nearby.


or portugal.
but of course, the only way planning law will change in the uk is if more people are willing to fight against the present madness. quite a few groups have set up low impact housing contrary to planning, and some have succeeded on some levels. just depends whether you want that fight!

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Post: #59534 Andy Hamilton
Thu May 31, 2007 6:51 pm

Do the laws change if someone else lives in a house on some land or is building a house on some land? Is it possible to live in someones back garden? Perhaps going into buying land with someone else, surely there can't be a law against someone putting essentially a big tent in your back garden? - mind you would not surprise me if there was.
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Post: #59539 paddy
Thu May 31, 2007 7:03 pm


or portugal.
but of course, the only way planning law will change in the uk is if more people are willing to fight against the present madness. quite a few groups have set up low impact housing contrary to planning, and some have succeeded on some levels. just depends whether you want that fight!


Are you saying that ....anyone should be able to build whatever they want anywhere they want as long as a group of people like you agree that it is some kind of " green ecological house "???????

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Post: #59557 Muddypause
Thu May 31, 2007 8:02 pm

Andy wrote:Do the laws change if someone else lives in a house on some land or is building a house on some land? Is it possible to live in someones back garden? Perhaps going into buying land with someone else, surely there can't be a law against someone putting essentially a big tent in your back garden? - mind you would not surprise me if there was.

In practice, it's probably a matter of what you can get away with. A tent in your back garden may be OK for a while, but I think the authorities would consider it in terms of whether someone is 'living' there, rather than just staying there for a few days, ie, is it being used as a residence? If it is they are duty bound to make sure that any structure that is built conforms to the building regulations, that there is adequate access, that you are not compromising other residents, that there is provision for sewerage, waste, and other amenities. They will also want to charge council tax on the residence.

People are often looking for a loophole in the rules that will let them do things with impunity. I don't think such a thing really exists - in short, if you want to live somewhere, you have to have permission. There is some debate about 'temporary' buildings, etc., and some people think that if you don't have foundations to your structure, or it has wheels, or is mobile or something, it is not covered by planning rules. This emphatically is not the case, but what you may be permitted to do in those circumstances seems to be something of a grey area. But strictly speaking, if you want to live somewhere without the constant threat of an official challenge, you have to have permission to do so.

There is some sense to some of these rules - housing and communities needs some sort of planning, because every additional residence adds to the load on the local infrastructure - water demands, road usage, the need for shops, schools, doctors surgeries... But on the other hand, it does mean that a lot of people find it next to impossible to break out of the strictures of the housing market.

Another organisation that may be worth looking at is the Walter Segal Selfbuild Trust. Segal was an architect whose life's work was to make housing accessible to ordinary people - he designed them so that unskilled people could build them, usually collectively as some sort of co-housing scheme.
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Post: #59566 revdode
Thu May 31, 2007 8:45 pm

In some areas if you can claim you need to be near your land to "tend your crops" or "look after your lifestock" or some similar excuse / reason you can get around the restriction on building. I think this was one of Ben Law's arguments and know of at least one person who was able to live on their land to look after their farm (fungus). Unfortunately AFAIK if your business / farm whatever fails you will lose the right to stay there.

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Post: #59575 Muddypause
Thu May 31, 2007 9:34 pm

revdode wrote:In some areas if you can claim you need to be near your land to "tend your crops" or "look after your lifestock" or some similar excuse / reason you can get around the restriction on building.


This is an Agricultural Tie, and isn't a way of avoiding the need for PP. It is an additional condition placed upon the permission. This may mean that PP would be granted where it other wise wouldn't be. I think you're right about it being applicable to Ben Law's place. It means you can only live there if you can show (according to my smallholder friend the authorities need to see a proper, costed out business plan) that you are dependent upon the land (hobby farming is not allowed).

The house can only be subsequently sold to someone employed in agriculture in the area. But I don't know how this is enforced, or whether different local authorities have differing approaches to it. The original point of an Ag. Tie was to ensure that there was adequate housing for farm workers. You can apply for the tie to be lifted, but I suspect that in some (most?) places, this will be difficult to do.

It has other knock on effects too - mortgages for such properties may be a problem. All this can consequently make them quite cheap properties.

Not meaning to hog this thread.
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Post: #59586 Andy Hamilton
Thu May 31, 2007 10:15 pm

Muddypause wrote:Not meaning to hog this thread.


Don't worry about that mate it's a real eye opener.
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