Kevin McCloud Man Made Home
by NICK ROSEN on SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 - 43 Comments in land

McCloud and his shed – but where’s the community?

He calls it his “Grandest Design yet,” but its a bit of a vanity project. This Sunday (Sept 23rd) in the UK, Channel 4 viewers will be able to view every aspect of Kevin McCloud’s self-built, off-grid cabin in the Mendips.

But McCloud, host of the long running TV show “Grand Designs” is strangely silent on one detail – how did he get planning permission for his creation? Planning is the biggest obstacle preventing thousands of others, perhaps tens of of thousands, who are desperate to do what McCloud has done, but cannot get the permission (assuming they are able to get their hands on the land).

“He says he is “off grid and off mains,” but if McCloud’s new series is to be anything more than an essay in Grand Selfishness it should be used to kick off a campaign to loosen the planning restrictions on building eco-homes in the countryside – and in the suburbs or in people’s back gardens.

While McCloud’s new series “Man-made Home” revels in his splendid isolation, its actually only through community activity that off-grid living can ever be successful. With Britain in the grip of a housing crisis, and economic chaos looming if the Euro collapses, there have never been so many who want to live off-grid. But very few want to do it alone. There are practical reasons for this.

Who is going to mind the water-containers while Mr McCloud is off making his next series? What happens to the batteries that power his cellphone? What will stop local rodents eating their way through his organic building materials?

I call on McCloud to join with us to campaign for looser planning laws to allow a new generation of back-to-the-land homesteaders. This would create jobs and housing, and bring life back to the countryside.

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43 comments

1 Joss { 09.23.12 at 3:17 pm }

Strangely silent about planning?

Oh dear, Nick. Well, that is the risk of being judgemental before actually watching the programme, for Kevin says exactly what the planning issues are immediately after the first commercial break.

Oops.

2 Nick Rosen { 09.23.12 at 3:42 pm }

Thanks for your post, Joss, yes there was a minute or less of discussion about planning permission , which is the most contentious aspect of living off the grid. Please can everyone write to planning at somerset council – planning@somerset.gov.uk and ask them?

I expect they had the advice of a top legal mind to make the statement that as long as the shed is transportable it does not need planning permission, but I wonder whether Somerset planning department would agree.

I suggest that anyone with a bit of woodland in somerset asks the planning department whether a chassis buried under the earth and with a shed mounted on it actually does qualify as permitted development.

Furthermore, something that is not mentioned in the programme is that you would only be able to use a caravan for living in 28 days a year, and only during ten months of the year. So its hardly a year round dwelling

3 Tim { 09.23.12 at 4:16 pm }

I have just written to Somerset Council planning on the email address given below, just asking to clarify that the only requirement was that the building can ‘move’. If this is true, I have enough money to buy a couple of acres locally (Cooper & Tanner have a number of pieces of land in this area for sale on their website). It really seems worthwhile giving it a go!

4 Roy collinson { 09.23.12 at 4:25 pm }

having watched kevin mcloud man made house with interest , my wife and i (age 70yrs old) was part of a team of 5 people who built a house in Thailand in 7weeks working 12 hr days at 40 degrees if you are interested go to you tube and look for dean collinson friendship project 1its mind blowing good luck with your house kevin

5 Steve Byrne { 09.23.12 at 5:53 pm }

I have to agree with Nick – simply adding a huge chassis and claiming it is mobile is unlikely to wash with the planners for long, and he can only spend 28 days a year there. Am intrigued to see how big a machine you’d need to pull it out of the hole once the oak frame is complete, too.
An entertaining programme, but however Kevin tries to dress it up, it is still just a guy from town spending a lot of money to get a team of people to build him somewhere to dress up as Ben Law and drink Chablis 4 weeks a year. If he starts a trend, then 2 acre woodland plots will be sold to people who are hardly ever there and there will be even less chance of the less well off being able to live and work in the countryside.
Maybe he will yet, but the mention of planning was a good opportunity to champion the need for changes in the planning system to allow low impact development in the countryside. Even if it is just a programme about Kevin having a bit of fun in a field, it wouldn’t have done any harm to touch on some of the relevant issues, would it?

6 Arch { 09.24.12 at 5:17 am }

Hi guys, it’s true on wheels or skids if you can move it, it doesn’t constute a development hence no planning permission needed. But the planners will do handstands to tell you otherwise, you have to stand your ground join forces and dig your heals in, the government must get these local planners of the the backs of people who are within the law of the land, people should sue the planners for harassment, everyone start lobbying your MP, start building !

7 Marco { 09.24.12 at 9:11 am }

It was billed as Kevin McCloud & his ‘Man Made House’
… trailer from an old truck, modified by someone else, in a workshop, with lots of new steel
…. wood frame prepared by others using chainsaws, gunpowder and other power tools
… plywood … ok … apparently reclaimed (?)
…. tyvek sheeting (from builders merchant)
…. shingles … primarily made by others
…. lighting fuel …. what a palaver …. trip to local sewer, then local uni chemistry department… I bet the cost of processing that bio fuel was far more expensive than just buying an ‘off the shelf’ product.

Made by lots of others might be a better title. All good fun for our Kevin I am sure, but stretching the man-made a bit too far??

8 Tim { 09.24.12 at 9:14 am }

Reply just now from Somerset County Council. Mentioned it’s a local planning matter (so under District Council jurisdiction) but added:

“Development of temporary structures such as mobile homes in the open countryside is governed by Development Plan Policy and normally prohibited unless an agricultural or horticultural tie is associated with the proposed development. Such structures are also subject to time limit conditions whereby permission is subject to renewal after a period of 5 years. ”

So I don’t think his fancy shed will be there long.

9 Steve Byrne { 09.24.12 at 4:33 pm }

Does it have to be mobile, or temporary? I have a memory that not having foundations is the key, and although they then might not be able to enforce against it, you are still up against the 28 day rule, which is part of permitted development. Not sure whether come day 29 you are supposed to leave, or whether that gives them leeway to make you remove the structure.
Also – if being a mobile structure makes it simply a case of standing up to the local council, why did Dale Farm happen? It just isn’t as simple as all that.

10 Billy Rhomboid { 09.24.12 at 4:43 pm }

There are two issues here – you do not need planning permission for a temporary structure – most static caravans fall under this – and building regs do not apply. However, you cannot actually live in it unless there is residential permission for the land. Otherwise people would just plonk static caravans on greenbelt land and live in them.

11 Arch { 09.25.12 at 4:16 am }

Hi guys, there is part of the law that states, you can live in woodland to work there in a caravan or similar for ” a season ” in law a season is judged as up to one year less a day ! This may apply to farm land also ? A caravan in law is anything that can be moved but there is a size restriction.
If Kevin stands his ground he should get away with it, maybe he is challenging the planning laws, this maybe the whole point re this project, wait and see could be very interesting ?

12 Arch { 09.25.12 at 11:56 am }

Planners are a pain but its the Courts that make the real decisions.
It’s pointless asking planners as their default setting is ” No ”
Do it and fight for it within the law !

13 neilrobin { 09.25.12 at 5:26 pm }

.sorry to be a grump, but Marco, if you are going to pinch my comments word perfect from the guardian it would be polite to say so???

14 neilrobin { 09.25.12 at 6:03 pm }

Ps ….. if you really want to read more about trailer houses, suggest you have a look here, really wonderful stuff…….http://littleyellowdoor.wordpress.com/author/ellaharp216/page/8/

15 Arch { 09.26.12 at 6:57 am }

Now girls don’t start bitching !

16 Kate { 09.26.12 at 6:10 pm }

This programme left me seething with rage. It’s just boys with their toys – blowing up trees and trying to get fuel from sewage. Insane and does a real disservice to the thousands of people who have a genuine desire to live simply and well but don’t have the means like this man. And when he buried the wheels on the impractical towing device to convince us that he conformed with planning – this is when I lost all respect for the twerp.

17 Jack Shelton { 09.27.12 at 6:18 am }

It seems to me people who have a negative view of this project are forgetting this fact. In a bid to provide affordable new housing, planning permission has been grated for thousands houses to be built on many sites which were previously beautiful country side.

Local to me a huge site is almost complete, some houses are falling down already. These are poorly built timber framed houses on a concrete pad foundation. It is marsh land around here which does not seem to have been taken into account. Like most things nowadays these houses are basically throw away items. Saying that I feel that sites like these are of no concern to a lot of people.

They claim many of these houses have energy saving insulation fitted. In reality in some cases it is never installed. In many case is incompletely or poorly installed.

I ve heard of roof tiles laid using silicone sealant!
Maybe this area has a very high instance of bad workmanship?

I think a movable, nicely made shed with a kept but wild area around it pales into insignificance against the impact a larger iresponsibly built development. This shed is not blot on the landscape. The country side would do well to have more buildings like this one and less people buying new cars. I have more respect for a man/woman who builds a shed with a hot tub than a man/woman who chooses to go out and buy the latest fastest German saloon or the biggest, heaviest most highly equipped 4×4. I’m sure the environment agrees.

Also, in terms of the odd ball techniques used. I think they were to illustrate the amount of energy that is being wasted around us.

It is of course a fact that less and less people are able to complete practical task, our basic skills are being watered down. This is not a problem while things are ok but these people are in trouble if there is any failure in the infa structure that supports them. I am not trying to scare anyone but frankly to sustain our current way of life there are a number of factors we rely on. People seem to forget the Briton and Ireland are islands. We have plenty of rain but for our surface area we have a high population. This means reservoirs are small and dry up quickly There has to be food in the shops, clean water, electricity and other services, constant air freight, shipping and road freight. Plenty of variables which could cause problems in reality.

I thought the explosive log splitting was ingenious and fascinating from a scientific point of view.

I think it probably makes some people uncomfortable seeing somebody not fulfilling the everyday tasks of your average person.
In some case I think certain people, even if they don’t say it, would love a place to chill out in like that.

Really people need to lighten up, we get caught up on minor matters but serious inconvenient truths are ignored.

Factoring in the exponential rate of population expansion a wooden shed in a field is not an issue. Give it a few years and there will be a housing development there. If not out of poor decision making then out of necessity.

The chap helping Kevin is Will tricket. He is a well respected boat builder and great all round engineer. This country is lacking in the type of people capable of deciding to build a wooden cabin.

Jack

18 Arch { 09.27.12 at 7:49 am }

Oh Kate you sound fun !

Haven’t met a girl yet who doesn’t love playing with big boys toys ?

If you know Kate has she blushed ?

19 Arch { 09.27.12 at 1:59 pm }

Well said Jack, I might add there are thousands of skilled people in the uk and a hell of a lot out of them are building all sorts on the quiet, in the uk we need freedom to build a home, a workshop, etc no wonder the country’s on its knees, no wonder people are setting up on the black economy, people want to earn a living not beg, yet planners run around saying no ! Most of these planners haven’t a clue all they have done is some crap degree, and they think they know best, something has to change, note Kevin is also championing self building and challenging the planners of the uk to get real and help the country not hinder it, going off base a little did you know you can’t ride your horse on your own farmland big no no according to the planners of uk, I mean what total crap ! Who’s making these rules ? There needs to be a nation wide up rising, 90% of young riders can’t even school there horse or pony on there own land so what was all this crap about sport for all and how much talant is going do the drain ? Wake up Call me Dave, Dave you made a start on the planners but it needs a hell of a lot more, the country would befit so much the uk is a country of lions led by prats, bleeding the free to give handouts to public sector prats.
It’s our country it’s a sad life if we can’t stick a shed on our own land, why should we be stopped by some prat feeding off tax payers money ?

20 Arch { 09.28.12 at 1:49 pm }

Is that it guys ! Well that died a death fast ?

21 Phil Hunt { 10.01.12 at 11:23 am }

I have had real problems with my local authority, having put a towable mobile site office on a piece of land next to a property I own. The planning officer has done and investigation, and considers is unlawful development. I have tried to do a freedom of information act on his investigation, but they won’t realise it, so I’m not sure in what way I’m breaching planning regulations. Any the local council say I can appeal if I pay them £350 and a further £350 to the Secretary of State, just seem a way of making money. I think we should should all complain to planning@somerset.go.uk re Kevin MacCloud’s development, the get this out in the open for once and for all. Also has anyone got Kevin MacClouds e-mail. I can be contacting on kuti54a@yahoo.co.uk if anyone wants to contact me directly.

22 Ian S { 10.01.12 at 3:48 pm }

@Phil Hunt, if a council won’t answer an FoI you can make a formal complaint to the Information Commission, you could also ask for a data access request first though, rather than FoI as that is ANY data that they have on you personally…

23 Arch { 10.02.12 at 6:16 am }

Hi Phil
Ingnore the planning guy he is not right ( they lie, bully, etc to get there own way and the planning fee. ) by the way only ever deal with them in

writing and use recorded mail, as they will say one thing to your face and deny it later !

You can have a caravan near your house and use it as part of your house as office or bedroom etc check out legal size of caravan as stated in law uk
Doesn’t matter what shape it is or that it was a site office, it’s still a caravan if on wheels, so start by referrer to it as your caravan, if you check out planning law re caravans you will its permissible and NO planning permission needed ok.

Local planning office will try and trick you into applying as win or lose they get their money !
And it’s not illegal to apply for planning for things that don’t need it, so this is there game, they are not helpful and you can’t trust them.

Sure if you sit tight on this one they will go away
Once you tell them that your caravans exempt,

Lots of people I know have static caravans near there homes which must be about the size of yours or bigger, and like I say anything on wheels under a given size can be a caravan !

Check it out on the net

Love to hear how you get on
Don’t be bullied into applying for anything

24 Arch { 10.02.12 at 6:25 am }

There seems to be no way of contacting Kevin,
The guys who built the wooden parts of this shed are at Wholewoods site and blog on the net, but I asked re planning on their blog and it wasn’t posted ?

May be the way to contact Kevin through his agent if he has one, sure he must !

Or go to his shed and put a letter though the door !

Where is the shed ?

25 Arch { 10.02.12 at 6:37 am }

Just another thought, if planning are huffing and puffing about anything, don’t play there game as it is a trick as I said earlier, if you are really doing something breaching planning law they will take you to court, so if they haven’t issued a summons you can rest assured they have no case.

Even if you get a form to fill in re your situation from there legal department this is all part of there bullying tactics,
And they have no money so they stay alway from the courts as things can go pear shaped there for them !

26 Jack Shelton { 10.03.12 at 5:15 am }

(prats feeding off tax payers money) I call them pointless jobs for pointless people. The worst thing about these people is that they are pointless, and in trying to find point to there worlds they come up with ridiculous ideas. To support these ideas they give pointless jobs away to pointless people and so the cycle goes on.

Or the housing game is a good one. My ex girlfriend got a pointless job working for the local council. She told me exactly how the housing game works and what makes people eligible. God it did my head in listening to her rabbit on, turned her into a pointless monster. As far as I can see its not enough to throw our money away. We need to employ a load of pointless people with fat pensions to help us do it.

The worst thing is Ive also seen it from the other side. Two people I know of played the system so well that they now have two houses between them! Both are un-employed! The funny thing is its probably my pointless ex girlfriend that gave them the houses!

And some people are worried about a shed on some land!

27 Arch { 10.03.12 at 1:57 pm }

Well take the NHS !
Who do the government think are going to flock there for a job ? Most of the staff can do as they please, you don’t have to check the ward, you can
watch tv ! Etc etc etc, so the worse type of people flock there and it’s very difficult to get them out hence a failing NHS, they want spot checks by Gordon Ramsey and sacked on the spot, Alan Sugar want a little job ? The NHS is full of people not fit for purpose, and Call me Dave said this a while ago ? Nurses think there untouchable, there are good ones but not many, and their good work is undermined by all these spongers it the job for easy money and no discipline, no bottom line, no one caring, vat numbers taking the piss !
It is so bad it is a joke, you would be better going to the vet !

28 Charlotte { 10.09.12 at 5:04 am }

Loosen up nay-sayers! I’ve loved watching Kevin and his ‘crew’ do something fun! Even interesting, which is a rarity in current TV programmes. Who doesn’t want to have a go? Love it.

29 Arch { 10.09.12 at 8:07 am }

Well said Charlotte, it was a laugh, Kevins really been getting down a dirty !
Are you off Grid or thinking of being ?

Maybe a large stiff ( down ladys ) drink before and after Kevins been on air, might help some people out there ?

30 Alf { 10.10.12 at 10:08 am }

I have been reading some of the comments on here and I feel that there is a lot of people with too much time on their hands.

Kevin is a man creating a masterpiece that we are all jealous of. If I had the money I would do the same. The fact is he is showing us the beauty of creating something different. The ideas are absolutely amazing and I for one am pleased to see something on tv that is teaching us that there’s more to life than working and worrying about the silly things in life. He is a man who is building a dream.

Obviously there are always people who try to ruin dreams through jealousy.

As i said I’m glad he’s done it and he has opened my mind to the possibilities of being Eco friendly and a bit more creative.

Alf

31 pete { 10.10.12 at 6:23 pm }

I’m with Charlotte & Alf – lighten up guys !
Ok so Kev’s a bit of a telly tart , but I think he would be the first to admit it.
The project is fun and and provides some thought provoking ideas.
I doubt his shed will be allowed to stay there forever and the box ticking dullards at the planning office will see to that. So lets not get all bent out of shape cos he is able to do something we would all love to but never had the balls/money to try

32 Richard { 10.10.12 at 8:18 pm }

Don’t forget this is a TV show and the producers want to make sure there is something interesting going on to film. Hence silly playing with explosives, thermic lances, raw sewage etc.

Ultimately it’s just entertainment and not education.

The really interesting stuff is in the planning aspects (which were quickly skirted around) and real off grid heating, power, water and waste disposal. I guess that ‘lowest common denominator’, ‘dumbed down’ TV will strike again and we won’t get to see anything really useful or in depth.

Off to do more research into building stuff on grazing land….

33 Arch { 10.11.12 at 1:59 pm }

Kevins a Eco warrior with a shed ( and a fab farmhouse, barns, workshops, maybe another property in London, France, etc ?
And he’s got balls ! Plus big big big fee for doing this programme, f..king lucky bastard !

I did think that was a total waste of a Grey Ferguson tractor as they are always repairable and the best tractor for anyone off griding.

Don’t think there is anything amazing in what he’s done its all been done before in some form or other, but it will inspire a lot of people to have ago, he’s a big Tart but he’s good at it.

By the way the glass girl was super hot ! She can glaze me any day wow !

34 Arch { 10.11.12 at 2:03 pm }

Oh and the fact that she was hot didn’t go unnoticed by Willy Trickett ( bloke with ginger side burns, looks abit like Wolvereen, yes ? )

35 Arch { 10.13.12 at 2:32 pm }

Well there’s no point leaving a comment on the Wholewoods site run by the guy who built Kevins shed as he just deletes then, I made a few comments re his post on clapper boarding ( having been in the trade for 36 years ) and he didn’t publish it, not my fault there’s flaws in what he’s doing with nails ? It’s all a big conspiracy !

36 Arch { 10.16.12 at 1:14 pm }

Well guys that’s it thought there would be more to Kevins woodland shagpad ?

Did like the tube heat exchanger Will fabricated into the tub stove, sort down the lines of a high pressure boiler ! May have worked a little better if the pipes had been laid horizontal so as to slow the hot gases passage to the flue so they dumped more heat ? And more tubes more heat ?
His drop down wottsit didn’t show any finesse in design Wills gearing wasn’t right for the job ! Counter weights would have helped.
When you consider that wooden horse boxes have similar platforms that drop down as a ramp, they take a lot of weight but one man can easily open and shut one, so, so much for Wills boasted comment that if you want something to really work bring it to him ! Note his boats are bought in kits which he then welds up ! But liked his stove heat exchanger good to see a young guy
making a living by hard work.

37 Arch { 10.16.12 at 1:17 pm }

Scrub the comments above re Wholewoods he has now published my comment ?

38 Countryloving { 01.07.13 at 9:59 am }

I’d just like to know where you can buy 2acres of nice woodland like that for less that the price of a second hand car as Kevin says early on (I really like Kevin and all of his programs but does he mean a secondhand bentley?..) you used to be able to find stuff for 2k an acre or less now it seems impossible under 20k , love to be proved wrong! :) Thanks Mark

39 Kate { 02.17.13 at 4:50 am }

We just enjoyed the joy expressed by Kevin that comes from your own input into a project. I remain proud of the fact that I used our router first of all!

40 Chris { 03.14.13 at 5:56 pm }

Hi there first I have to say I really enjoyed the program it made me and my little boy of 6 years laugh a lot, a mini on big wheels dad how cool, blowing up trees even cooler, point is it was bloody good entertainment, as for me I bought a woodland last year at auction for 6,500.00 pounds in Cornwall, 4.2 acres of mostly oak trees, after vat and legal and paying the duchy of Cornwalls legal and mine surches it stood me at about 9,500, still I’m going for it, I’m an engineer and have a business restoring old Vw Beetles and Campers you can look me up on face book Old Dubz Chris Francis restorations, I produce my own bio ethanol out of food waste and run my old Vw Bug on the stuff, anyway I do ramble so cutting it short I’m giving this a go and will be building a wooden home on a chassis and see what happens, should be fun just winding up the Cornwall council, if anyone is interested in this you can contact me on face book Old Dubz, Chris Francis

41 shaun { 10.06.13 at 4:53 pm }

I love watching Kevin Mc Cloud having a go , but its only TV and you can’t read to much into it . To all of you out there build your shed and don’t ask the planners . If no one says anything after 4 years they ant going to make you pull it down , if its on wheels or skids then just move it tro another part of your site .The planners have to go though the motions again and you just move it again . I know as I have 2 acrs of land in south Wales and have been doing this Forr 11 years . Buy your land and enjoy .

42 Angela { 10.29.13 at 8:26 am }

Well done Shaun. Why didn’t I think of that? I.m looking at woodland sites to spend chunks of time in now I’ve retired and was worrying about the 28 day rule. I’ll just drive a van’s length away for the next 28 days, is it? What about 10 months a year? Not that I want to spend a solid year there. What about a nice shed for when it’s really cold, pretending to be storage for the saw?

43 shaun { 11.07.13 at 5:12 am }

I don’t think anybody is going to keep tabs on you if you spend your time there . Who cares . Long time dead . I don’t think anybody is going to pay someone to watch over your land 24/7 I’m not at my land all the time now as I used to , but noone complained when I did as my land is in a green belt area. Good luck Angela

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