Megan is bringing her son up in Welsh, her mother is a Welsh language teacher in the neighbouring town of Newport Pembs. The couple applied and got permission after 3 years pain, at appeal under the fairly new policy, the One Planet Development. This
requires the owners to live very sustainably in a home made of local natural materials. They must produce over half of their necessities from the land, and some income.
How did this policy happen? It was a grass roots initiative forced onto government.
In Wales, and only in Wales you can live anywhere If you can do this, and have a researched and thought out plan as part of your application. This is usually about the size of a corporation master plan. The first Ecovillage carried their14 ringbinders to
the hearing in two wheelbarrows.
There is help available to turn OPD aspirations into a planning application.
Everyone else has to build within the development zone, a tight black line around official settlements. The price of land within the
line is beyond. A plot where I Iive is around £80,000 and you can get at 10 of these to an acre. Developers buy up the land and cram in houses, gardens the size of a few bins and a couple of chairs.
Outside the black line land has hope value -
who would sell even for £10,000 an acre if the land could be worth up to £800,000 in within your lifetime, as settlements expand.
OPD opens a door to young people from Wales to stay or return, if they like this idea. All you need is land
that will make this way of life practical, and a plan. the rest is paperwork and process. Help is available. It shows the power of people to change rules and inspire a generation.
About 15 years ago (I forget dates) I took a group of people to speak
at a planning inquiry. We were asking for a policy to allow people to live simply and sustainably on the land in their natural homes that would leave no footprint, do only environmental good.
I brought a world renowned architect, a pioneer of
alternative living and earning, and an ex-councillor who looks and lives like Beorn and started the roundhouse renaissance. They were may expert witnesses and boy were they expert. The barrister for the planners played silly games and refused to listen.
Her only passion in life was smoking, she got visibly twitchy and angrier as the fag break approached.
Some years later Beorn (Tony Wrenc)h built his house. There followed a 10 year battle that reached international airwaves. Life was hell for
the National Park who were in the firing line from nations as well as UK, this was before the age of social media. Instead they opened the office door to a floor covered in fax messages.
Wisely they co-funded consultants to look into the need
for a new policy. The consultants took 6 months and found in favour. So they funded a second study which took another 6 months (Consultants are paid at £200 per day - bless em)
This lot too said absolutely yes, and the policy was born. At first
it was just in Pembrokeshire. Then we had that famous Labour/Plaid coalition and it went nation wide (Wales only). History has been marching on. I have helped along the way from time to time. In fact Charlie was one of the young people in a band, I told 'This
policy is being used by people coming to Wales to use it, that is fine, but its you, the children of our communities that should be using it. I would go to my grave to defend your right to." And some years later he did, and a generation woke up to smell hope.
Now its time to open the next chapter.
Anyone like to come on a tour of homes like these? Get in touch tours in Septembe 2015