Episode 16: That Roundhouse

Tony Wrench is famous for his roundhouses and his ongoing battle with the authorities has forced a change in planning law in Wales.

That Roundhouse is an ecohome of wood frame, cobwood and recycled window walls, straw-insulated turf roof. It has solar power and a wind turbine for electricity, compost toilet and reed beds for grey water. It was designed and built by Tony Wrench and his partner Faith and has become a symbol of the low impact building movement in the UK and around the world. It was built during the winter of 1997/8 and turned down for planning permission several times.

After several court appearances, a tough decision was made to to demolish it over Easter 2004, but demonstrations of huge public support in its defence made them change their minds. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority attempted to get a court injunction to force them to demolish it, but were persuaded to allow it to stay up until July 2006, when they could re-apply under their new Low Impact Policy.

The new application was considered for six months as negotiations over all the points of the policy took place. After a refusal in 2007 and several deferrals, a joint application was submitted by Faith and Emma who lives in a roundhouse across the fields. By a 9 - 2 vote on Monday 15th Sept 2008 the committee voted to grant planning permission, conditional for three years.

We have a later video, Episode 43 - Reciprocal Roof, which we made with Tony, on building a reciprocal roof frame. He gives his instructions after years of experience.