Couple face eviction from their Hobbit style mud hut

The couple built their home to combat being 'allergic' to modern life

Kate and Alan Burrows

A couple are being evicted from their Hobbit-style mud hut they built to combat an allergy to modern life.
Kate Burrows and her partner Alan fashioned their home out of the earth, tree trunks and straw after she was forced out of her rented house by permanent flu-like symptoms.

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Nature-loving Kate says she was allergic to the mains water, electricity, wi-fi and even the paint on the walls at a 21st century home and is petrified of returning.

She says she suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and living in the pre-modern hut for the past 19 months has completely restored her health.

Kate Burrows

But town hall chiefs have given the pair until December to move out of the construction in Tarka Valley, near Chumleigh, Devon.

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.

Distraught Kate said: "This is our nest, this is our everything, this is our art. We have sculpted it with our hands from the soil. I can't go back to being ill like that, it fills me with absolute horror."

Kate and Alan spent six weeks building the hut on their smallholding after she said living in a modern home "was like having flu all the time".

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

Kate Burrows

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

Outside a hand pump brings water from the river for washing, solar panels on the roof provide power and the couple keep chickens, goats and geese.

Kate said she had been living in a toxic environment and her new accommodation was the answer to all her problems.

Kate Burrows

She added: "I think it was the water, the electricity, the wi-fi and the paint on the walls; my body just couldn't handle it. I didn't realise how ill I was until we moved here and I started to recover."

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.

Kate is now campaigning for planning policies in England like the One Planet planning laws in Wales which can allow largely self-sustaining homes like theirs.

Kate and Alan Burrows

he added: "I think it's really important that people like are us are allowed to live sustainably on their own land without causing any damage.

"This is normal life. We're collecting water, we're chopping wood, we're growing food.

"Isn't that what everyone has done throughout time?"

North Devon Council planning officer Graham Townsend said they were left with no option but to take enforcement action.

He said: "It is clearly not in the public interest to have houses and other structures springing up across the countryside without any permissions being obtained".

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: "Planning policy already promotes good design and encourages low carbon development."

They added: "Building regulations set high standards for energy efficiency".

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