By Paul Wimbush
Lammas was formed to work within the planning system to create
an opportunity for eco-smallholders to live on the land without
We have now exhausted all reasonable avenues of achieving this
through local government. The next step is to take it to National
Government level, i.e. the Welsh Assembly Planning Inspectorate.
I am personally really disappointed in Pembrokeshire County
Council, because this situation has, quite simply, gone beyond
reason. It is as if the planners have done everything they possibly
can to cobble together grounds for refusal. If one looks closely
at the planners reports it becomes very clear that the devil
is in the detail. For example, huge sections of the Lammas residents’
business plans have been discounted because they are activities
(such as weaving linen or woodworking) that could be done off-site!
This goes against the whole thrust of Policy 52.
The appeal itself should be a relatively straight forward process,
being that our application so clearly falls within the policy
I would like to say a big THANKS to all those who wrote in
support of the project. As I understand it all of those letters
and e-mails will be forwarded to the Planning Inspector.
My heart goes out to the Lammas families who have put their
lives on hold for the project, and who will now have to endure
yet another period of beaurocratic delay before they are able
to begin to create the lifestyles they have designed so intricately.
We are going to press on. We are very close to being able to
purchase the land now, and as soon as that happens we can begin
planting trees and landscaping.
Meanwhile the granting of planning permission at Brithdir Mawr
provides a ray of hope that Policy 52 may still yet provide
the enlightened approach many of us have been waiting for.
The fact remains however that every low-impact development
in the UK to date has involved people simply moving on to the
land and applying for planning or appealing retrospectively.
Will Lammas be able to break this pattern?
Time will tell.
In the meantime please stay tuned and if you are able, buy
a share or become a friend of Lammas.
Red tape halts pioneer ecovillage
“Stop fiddling with red tape while Rome burns and help us build
a green future” Eco-village Pioneers urge planners!
Wales’ greenest planning application has been refused today
by Pembrokeshire County Council. The proposal, near the village
of Glandwr, North Pembrokeshire features 9 eco-smallholdings,
a community centre and mini-bus service open to the public.
The exemplary scheme received over 850 letters of support and
has been praised by experts from around the world. The Design
Commission for Wales undertook an independent review of the
plans in April and concluded they were ‘inspirational’ and a
‘benchmark for environmental rural regeneration’.
The Design Commission praised the use of locally sourced materials
which give a strong Welsh character to highly affordable homes.
With average house prices at over £170 000, Lammas’ plans
offer 9 homes, complete with 8 acres of land for £80 000
However, the planner’s report ignores the Design Commission
and other experts who have endorsed the scheme.
Paul Wimbush, project coordinator, is disappointed in the planners
report. “The report contradicts itself over and over again,
is misleading and wholly misrepresents our application. I am
sad to say that I am not surprised, having experienced unjustified
delays, lost files, and a general level of attention that leads
me to believe that Pembrokeshire planners do not have the resources
or skills necessary to be processing such applications. The
planners assured us that our application would be assessed on
permaculture principles. On receiving the report, we have found
that the entire application has been assessed on standard agricultural
criterea and has thus been recommended for refusal. The whole
point of the new policy 52 is about creating a lifestyle from
the land rather than focusing only on profit. This difference
between permaculture and agriculture is crucial.”
Policy 52, Low-Impact Development was introduced in Pembrokeshire’s
Joint Unitary Development Plan in July 2006 and makes provision
for new eco-smallholdings in the open countryside on the basis
that they will make a positive environmental, social and economic
contribution. There have been 3 applications to date, none of
which has been passed. The low-impact movement however is gaining
momentum. The Welsh Assembly is currently compiling national
guidance on low-impact development which will encourage other
counties across Wales to adopt low-impact policies similar to
Pembrokeshire’s low-impact policy.
“Our plans include generating electricity from a water turbine,
growing willow and elephant grass for fuel and building houses
from local natural materials. Our application, as far as I know,
is the only application for new-build carbon neutral housing
in the whole of Wales at the moment. Meanwhile, the Welsh Assembly
recently made a commitment that all new housing will be carbon
neutral by 2012 as a step toward addressing climate change!”
Dr Larch Maxey, a Lammas organiser added ‘The planner’s report
shows that there is a gulf as big as an iceberg between policy
and practice. Science shows we have 100 months to stop climate
chaos. Our planning system needs to wake up and help us meet
humanity’s biggest challenge.’
The Lammas team are encouraging people to assess the situation
for themselves. Their whole application, along with Pembrokeshire
County Council’s report can be seen online at the Lammas website.
Lammas plans to take their application to a Welsh Assembly appeal.
Low Impact News
Brithdir Mawr and the Roundhouses
After 10 years wrestling with planners, Tony Wrench’s roundhouse
along with the Tir Ysbrydol community have been granted 3 years
temporary planning permission for 5 dwellings, 3 visitor huts,
4 ancillary buildings, 4 compost toilets and a seasonal campsite.
This is the first application to succeed under Policy 52 and
represents a real breakthrough in sustainable rural development
being embraced by the planning system.
It seems that the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park have taken
a more balanced perspective on Policy 52, and have not asked
for a single business plan, nor consulted agricultural “experts”,
preferring instead to rely upon the marked increase in environmental
biodiversity observed on the site.
Welsh Low Impact Policy opportunity
Please play a part in the latest Welsh Assembly consultation
on a national Low-Impact Development Policy. This is a rare
chance to get some national guidance on low-impact development.
It is also our chance to lobby for something a little more flexible
than Pembrokeshire’s model policy.
here for details
Agriculture/ Permaculture Experts
Lammas is seeking help in its appeal. If you have a background
in Agriculture or Permaculture we need your help to explain
to a Welsh Assembly Inspector why it is inappropriate to assess
permaculture smallholdings using conventional agricultural yield/
functional need assessments.
If you think you might be ale to help, please contact Jasmine
tel 07773 372280