The Quicken Wood site, south of the B2192 road, opposite Star Lane, in Blackboys where a double-decker bus has been used as a home since 2002. Now there are plans to replace it with a timber mobile home. This is a Google Earth image.

Double-decker bus home could be replaced with mobile property

Plans have been submitted to replace a double-decker used as a home in Quicken Wood, Blackboys, with a timber mobile home.

The double-decker used to accommodate a family of four but as they grew out of it the mother, Ines Bolumburu, moved with the two children into rented accommodation in Uckfield.

Dilapidated

Meanwhile the father Christie Flynn continued living in the increasingly dilapidated bus with Ms Bolumburu travelling to work each day at Quicken Wood.

Now, according to planning documents, the couple are applying for a three-bedroom mobile home – though drawings show a five bedroom home and two bathrooms – because it has been hard for everyone to live apart for four years.

Land

Mr Flynn says in a planning statement: “We are all missing living together as a family and the children are missing living and helping on the land and being with their dad.”

The 50ft x 20ft twin unit mobile home would sit in a plot which would be dug to a depth of eight inches layered with membrane, crushed hardcore and shingles or reclaimed road plains.

Load bearing concrete plinths would be installed to support it.

Site

The bus and lean-to have been on a site extending to nearly ten acres to the south of the B2192 Lewes Road in Blackboys, opposite a junction with Star Lane, since 2002.

There is also a compost toilet building, wind turbines and solar panels, a wooden building accommodating goats, a chicken house, steel container for storage, woodshed, charcoal kiln and polytunnels on and beside a vegetable garden.

Wealden Council tried over many years to get the site, part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), cleared but eventually permission was given by a planning inspector, after a hearing in December 2013, for the bus and lean-to to be used for residential purposes on a permanent basis.

Evidence

The planning inspector said the couple’s evidence demonstrated that they worked on the site full time to manage the woodland and produce the goods derived from it.

They produced vegetables and hay; made products from woodland coppicing, such as wreaths, and fired-up and managed a regular charcoal burn for producing artists’ materials from willow coppiced on site.

Holistic lifestyle

The inspector said: “These all add up to a comprehensive self-sufficient lifestyle, and I find that a location in the countryside for this holistic lifestyle and business is necessary.

The inspector added there was corroborated evidence on the finance of the enterprise demonstrating the operation was largely self-sufficient.

Viable subsistence

“Further, the smallholding has been shown to produce a viable subsistence lifestyle where a residential presence on site is essential to the operation of the business.”

A planning statement says activities at Quicken Wood remain as they have been since the enterprise was first established in 2002 therefore the justification for on-site residential accommodation remains unchanged.

Enhance

The statement says the mobile home would be sited close to the position of the existing bus in a small clearing within the woodland, screened from public view and in comparison with the current arrangements it would enhance the quality of the landscape in this part of the AONB.

“The mobile home would be temporary in the sense that, in common with the existing planning permission for themes, permission would be personal to the applicants, and the mobile home would be removed if, and when, their use of Quicken Wood ceases.”

There’s more information about the planning application, number WD/2019/1954/F on the Wealden District Council website.

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