Nick Rosen | |

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.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the web site

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