Steve James (pictured) is a tireless campaigner for the right to live off-grid. Because he wanted others to learn from his experience of building an off-grid cottage, his own home is now under threat from the planners. Here he tells his own story: You can learn more about Steve at his web site.
Well over 90 per cent of the numerous emails I receive about the Gatehouse are pleas for more information regarding the planning permission aspect of this project. Many along the lines of “I’d love to do something like this but planning and the cost of a housing plot make it impossible”.
They do indeed! This, along with the fact that to begin with I had no idea what the house would even look like, is why I never bothered with planning permission. If I had it would never have been built, and you wouldn’t be reading this.
If we needed planning and building regs to move out of the caves most of us would still be living in them. “You can’t use those dangerous wobbly brick things, they can’t possibly be as safe as solid rock, besides all those sharp corners aren’t traditional! ” I purposely kept the cost of this place to a minimum to try and highlight the deeper issues that prevent so many from achieving what I believe to be a basic human right.
A home of one’s own.
Until 150 years ago most people built their own homes. Now we are raised and educated to be completely dependent on the ‘services’ of the rigged market in housing. The obstacles to sane, affordable and sustainable housing are entirely political. If you read history, feudalism never ended, it was transformed, commuted to mortgage, disempowerment and the great urban reservations, instead of self-reliance, responsibility and fulfillment.
In the early eighties the Society of Friends (Quakers) raised a ‘concern’ regarding the increasing scarcity of housing land, with its impact on house prices and living standards for the whole community.
Accordingly a working group was formed to investigate and report back.
They produced a document which opened my eyes to the true extent of the modern feudal state.
Quite simply they showed how every person in Britain could be housed in detached low density housing complete with gardens and access roads and still not fill up more than half of Northern Ireland… (see map?) This is still true. Something else other than physical scarcity or overcrowding is at work. By any definition it is a deliberately maintained scarcity, a black market in which corruption thrives and vast profits are made by zoning ‘scarce’ land for housing, and equally vast profits made through compound interest accumulating over thirty year plus mortgages, for which it is now proposed to make children inherit their parents debts.
The actual material and labour costs of even a standard built home are as little as 10% of the price you pay. With the average UK price of housing land now over 3.5 million per hectare , the bare land price component averages from 50 to 80% depending on location. The average cost of a new home in Britain is now
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