United Kingdom

Eco-builder is jailed for refusing to pay £850 fine for ignoring council order to demolish treehouse

Eddie McIntosh, 54, pictured, has been jailed for refusing to pay an £850 fine over a treehouse home

An eco-builder whose treehouse home was described as 'truly inspiring' by Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud, but was also at the centre of a long-running battle over permission, has been jailed for refusing to pay an £850 fine. 

Eddie McIntosh was previously ordered by council planners to demolish his hand-built wooden classroom, tree house, cabins and even a footbridge on his rural farm - but decided to stand his ground.

The 54-year-old - who featured in Channel 4's Man Made Home with TV presenter McCloud - fought a seven year legal battle to save the buildings on his 12-acre 'natural holistic farm' called Mellowcroft.

McIntosh was convicted of ignoring the demolition orders and handed an £850 fine in February 2019 - despite Powys County Council later granting the structures retrospective planning permission.

He was given 12 months to pay but refused - telling a court that paying up would have 'accepting criminality'.

McIntosh was charged with non-payment of a fine and appeared at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court.

He told the court: 'Firstly, this fine is unaffordable to me. I am at the end of a seven-year legal battle that has severely disadvantaged my life, marriage and business.

'Secondly, accepting this fine would be tantamount to accepting criminality for making a firepit, a recycling point, even a wooden footbridge over a ditch, on a farm that I own. 

The eco-builder (pictured with wife Kim and daughter Ellie) was previously ordered by council planners to demolish his hand-built wooden classroom, tree house, cabins and even a footbridge on his rural farm - but decided to stand his ground

McIntosh was convicted of ignoring the demolition orders and handed an £850 fine in February 2019 - despite Powys County Council later granting the structures retrospective planning permission 

How Eddie McIntosh's treehouse controversy unfolded over the years

'I feel compelled not to accept this fine because it is in fact a paradox of law. The fine creates an impossible contradiction. Powys County Council prosecuted me for not demolishing various structures. Yet just a few weeks later, with no change to the farm, they granted all structures full planning permission.

'How can I be guilty and innocent of the same charge at the same time?'

McIntosh was jailed for 28 days.

Speaking ahead of the hearing he said: 'I tried to stand my ground from the start and I'm fully prepared to stand up for what I believe in.

'I'm divorced from my wife, this put an incredible amount of pressure on us, it financially stripped us, but I couldn't walk away, it made me sick.

'I know that prison will cost the taxpayer even more money, and I regret this. But I cannot morally condone the fine and accept criminal charges. And if standing up for what is right means going to prison, I'll face the consequences.'

Father-of-three McIntosh began developing his retreat 12 years ago at Llandegley, near Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales, to live a sustainable lifestyle.

And he made a range of buildings by hand out of recycled material - hailed as 'beautiful, a delight, an inspiration' by TV presenter McCloud.

McCloud said: 'What Eddie has concocted here is off-grid luxury and I rather like it.'

The site was previously described as 'truly inspiring' by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud

Mr McIntosh (centre front with friends outside court last year) has previously said he was grateful for the support of his community 

Father-of-three McIntosh began developing his retreat 12 years ago at Llandegley, near Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales, to live a sustainable lifestyle 

Included in his building was a classroom with 26 stained glass windows now called the 'Elixir Room' along with an outdoor spa using recycled baths.

But council officials say the buildings were put up at Mellowcroft did not have planning permission - and ordered him to get rid of them.

McIntosh said the first enforcement notice issued in December 2013 'came out of the blue with no warning'.

McIntosh lost an appeal to run his country estate as a 'retreat' for nature-lovers - and now changed it to a 'natural holistic farm'.

He grows willow furniture, rears pigs and grows fruit and vegetables in polytunnels at the Mellowcroft farm to make ends meet.

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