Couple step up their fight for eco-home

An artist's impression of how the eco-house designed by Karen and Darren Clithero would look. It would be located at  Allswell Farm, Parrock Lane, Old Town
An artist's impression of how the eco-house designed by Karen and Darren Clithero would look. It would be located at Allswell Farm, Parrock Lane, Old Town

A fuming couple are taking their battle to build the ultimate energy efficient home to Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles.

With the ever-increasing cost of energy bills, Darren and Karen Clithero were hoping to build a fuel-less earth covered house at Allswell Farm, Parrock Lane, Old Town.

Darren Clithero with the planning permission notice, Alls Well Farm, Old Town

Darren Clithero with the planning permission notice, Alls Well Farm, Old Town

Calderdale Council’s planning department rejected the application on various grounds, including that the proposed site lies within the Green Belt, the house would be too close to a wind turbine and it would “appear as an alien and obtrusive feature in the rural landscape”.

However, planners mistakenly sent out two letters informing the Clitheros and their planning consultant that the go-ahead had been given.

The Clitheros believe this counts as a legal planning approval notice and have said that if Calderdale wants to revoke it then it must do so under Section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. However they have said that the council is refusing to do so, leaving them in a state of limbo.

They have now sent a letter to Secretary of State Eric Pickles pleading with him to sort out the mess so all parties can move forward.

Karen said: “We do not want to put in another application when we already have a planning approval notice. We know they sent it by mistake but so have many other councils. Revocation is what they are supposed to do, they cannot just wish it away.”

But Calderdale Council’s Head of Planning and Highways Geoff Willerton said the approval letters mistakenly sent out by his department were “irrelevant” and confirmed that the authority would not be seeking a revocation order.

“The application was refused by decision notice issued by the council on March 28, 2013 for a number of reasons, including the fact that the development would have adversely affected the Green Belt,” he said.

“Any other documents that Mr and Mrs Clithero have are irrelevant and do not change the fact that the application was refused.

“Given that planning permission was refused, there is no reason for the council to consider either revocation or judicial review. More than six months have passed since the decision was made, and therefore the statutory period within which an appeal to the Secretary of State can be made has expired. Mr and Mrs Clithero did not exercise their right of appeal.”

The proposed house, which Darren (pictured left) and Karen designed themselves would heat, cool and ventilate itself. It would be carbon neutral and “cost very little or nothing to run”.

Darren said: “This house has been designed to look after its occupants and blend into its surroundings. It will help end the stress caused by ever-increasing energy bills and reduce the need for imported fuel.”

He said the only visible part of the house would be the triple glazed “conservatory” window on the south-facing side which collects the sun’s energy. The only correspondence on the application was a letter of support from a member of staff at Calderdale College.

Chris Jones, Principal at the college, said: “The college is an independent organisation and not accountable to CMBC, although it does work closely with the council in matters relating to education and skills. The college has not expressed a view on the planning application, although an individual member of staff has expressed support for the project.”

The Clitheros are awaiting a reply from Mr Pickles.