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Park planners court controversy by rejecting earth-sheltered home

National Park planners have been accused of double standards after rejecting plans for an earth-sheltered home in the Yorkshire Dales.

The park's committee turned down an application for a 325m 2'invisible' home ( pictured) by eco-architect Arthur Quarmby, even though it backed a similar scheme for the authority's new offices just a few miles away.

Businessman Howard Buffett, the man behind the buried house project in the village of Hardraw, near Hawes, has now lodged an appeal against the decision - a result he described as 'galling'.

Meanwhile the National Park's new building and visitor centre at nearby Bainbridge, which was designed by P+HS Architects and features a grass roof, is understood to be nearing completion.

Buffett said: 'The primary thing is that the planners have not given us a fair crack of the whip.

'They haven't taken into account all the material considerations and it was almost fait accompliin that the planners had made up their minds before granting the refusal.'

He added: 'If you had a look at the officer reports on the two buildings you would find a very different tone in each of them. The report on the house has been given a very negative spin, while theirs is very positive.'

One of the complaints about the development was that it was not in keeping with the area. However, Buffett insists his house would have made a minimal impact on the surroundings.

'The original design was more elaborate, then we talked to the planners and we thought it best to make it almost subservient to the landscape. The design has evolved to make it as simple as we could.'

Quarmby, the president of the British Earth Sheltering Association, agreed: 'There are much worse things - it would be virtually unnoticed. At the moment it is a very messy farmyard and, despite what the planners say, it would be well within the village boundary.'

The appeal is expected to be heard on 25 July.

by Richard Waite

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