No. 3 – 5th October 2009

Newsletter No. 3 – 5th October 2009

Our First Site – More People Needed


This Newsletter is produced by the project to create a number of Eco-Hamlets in Britain. Details can be found at http://www.eco-hamlets.org.uk. You have been sent this edition because you are a Member or Friend of the group, you are someone who may be interested, or you could assist us with publicity or practical support. If you want more details or would like to like get involved, or if you don’t wish to receive further editions, please let us know.

If you know of anyone who would be interested, especially if you think they would like to be part of the projects described below, please pass this Newsletter on to them.

Unless otherwise stated, everything has been written by John Boshier, who would much rather other people wrote most of it!

  • Progress Report
  • Our First Eco-Hamlet – Urgent Support Needed
  • A Small Eco-Hamlet in Wales
  • Eco-Hamlets UK

Progress Report

A lot has happened since the last Newsletter in June. I kept things fairly low key to start with, and set a deadline of 30th June to decide if the project was viable. The deadline passed, and good progress was being made, so I’m sure there is a bright future ahead of us. We currently have around 50 members, and a steady trickle of people are joining. I’m planning to do more publicity, and as the word spreads, and we’re seen to be a group that makes things happen, I’m sure membership will grow.

The big news is that we have had our offer accepted on a site in Gloucestershire. We’re working hard to make progress, but currently urgently need a couple more people with vision and money, who are prepared to join us to complete the purchase.

Our First Eco-Hamlet – Urgent Support Needed

Since July, we have been looking at a site with land in Gloucestershire. Our offer to buy it has been accepted, and now the race is on to make our plans, and complete the purchase. It consists of a 4 bedroom 17th/18th century house, that is not a listed building, a modern cottage, a large workshop, and 12 acres of land. The exciting and unusual feature is that part of the site is within the development boundary of a village, and the planning officer for the area, who is very supportive, has indicated that we may be able to create around a dozen homes there. Some housing will come from converting the existing buildings, but much of it will be new build. We are aiming to provide housing at the lowest cost possible, to enable people with limited resources to buy. We hope to have homes to buy, to rent and for shared ownership.

There is a 4 bedroomed house for renovation available, and and some further accommodation that will require some alteration and renovation. Some new build housing will be terraced or semi-detached, so individual design choice would be limited on these. There will however also be building plots for self build, where we hope to create varied and imaginative homes. At least one person wants a log cabin, and there’s scope for lots of interesting shapes and different building materials, so it may be your chance to build your dream low-impact home.

There are a number of crafts people involved with the project, and the intention is to create work units on site to make it a busy and vibrant place to live, but with plenty of opportunity for peaceful places too. We are hoping to have a diverse mix of people of all ages living there, making a living in a variety of ways. We are currently having plans prepared for the site, and working with the local planning department to put in an application as soon as possible.

The site is in an interesting situation on the edge of a village. There are local shops, a primary school, good public transport and a thriving local town, but it is also on the edge of countryside, and there are fantastic views. It’s a very practical location for many people, in a lively area with plenty of environmentally aware people living locally.

We haven’t finally decided on the type of legal body we will set up, but it’s likely that we will form a company to buy the site, and sell homes or building plots on a very long lease. All leaseholders will be members of the owning company, and will therefore have a say in how the site is run. There will be provision for renting homes that will make tenants feel secure and of equal status to home owners.

To achieve our aims, we need more people to put money into the initial purchase. We would like people who wish to live in the Eco-Hamlet, but we are also open to offers of loans, donations or grants, and may be in a position to issue shares. It would be a social enterprise, so while interest or dividend payments should be paid, they would be capped at a fair level. There will be a level of uncertainty for the initial investors, but we would hope this would be compensated for by having the pick of the best plots, and by paying a lower price for their home than later residents. All this is open for discussion with potential investors, and doesn’t constitute an offer to sell property or shares at this stage.

If you are interested in joining in, please contact us as soon as possible for more information. This project will only succeed if enough people have the vision to make it happen, and we have a limited time to achieve this. We hope it will be the first of many Eco-Hamlets, so it’s a great opportunity to be there at the beginning.

Please contact us at eco-hamlets@epfsolutions.org.uk

if you are interested.

 

A Small Eco-Hamlet in Wales

One of our members has almost completed negotiations to buy a small site in West Wales. It’s a fair sized house with 6 acres of woodland and grass. The house has an unusual layout, and has potential to be divided into 3 small homes, and there is a potential building plot. The initial phase will involve letting rooms to lodgers, who would hopefully be like minded people who would make use of the land and facilities available. The next phase is to develop a number of interesting permaculture based projects on the site. Phase 3 will be to obtain planning permission to divide the house and do the new build, and make these homes available for sale or rent.

If anyone is interested in moving straight to phase 3 now, please get in touch. The buyer would love to have some money available to invest in the Gloucestershire Eco-Hamlet too!

Anyone interesting in renting a room is also welcome to get in touch. Hopefully it will be something rather different to a conventional shared house. Animals (both pets and livestock!) welcome, space to grow food, share work on the smallholding, and maybe car sharing too!

Please contact us at

eco-hamlets@epfsolutions.org.uk

if you are interested.

Eco-Hamlets UK

As you will have seen from the items above, things are starting to happen. When I started the group it was mainly with the intention of finding somewhere for me to live with like minded people. It was in my mind that it would be great to create further Eco-Hamlets, but that wasn’t my priority. I kept things very low key to start with until I was sure there was enough interest, so this Newsletter may be the first you’ve heard of us. As I started to gather information through an online survey, it was very obvious that we didn’t have enough members wanting to live in the same location, and who would be ready to act at the same time. So we needed more members, but that would mean that if we bought just one site there would be a lot of disappointed members who wanted to be somewhere else. Of course, as my aim was to find somewhere for me to live, this one site might not have suited me either! It also seemed a waste of time and resources to do all the work needed to buy and create a single Eco-Hamlet, and then for other groups to have to redo much of it later. So the group began to evolve into a group that brings people together, helps them to find suitable sites, and provides the information and support they need to create lots of Eco-Hamlets.

This evolution is happening slowly. I have registered a domain name ( www.eco-hamlets.org.uk

) for the web site. If you visit the site you may find that some pages haven’t been updated from when it was first launched in April, and so don’t yet entirely reflect where we’re now going. I’ve been developing a new Member’s web site that is starting to go live. This is where people will get together to form Groups to work on individual projects, search for sites in particular locations, and develop and record the knowledge and documents we can all share. There will also be an online system for new members, where they complete a survey that will help to match them with people with similar aims. I’m also involved with buying two sites, and doing all this while living in a small motorhome with a usually painfully slow internet connection! So if some exciting facility you’re waiting impatiently for hasn’t happened yet, please bear with me for a little longer!

If you’re not already a member, and want to join us, please e-mail eco-hamlets@epfsolutions.org.uk