Lammas Newsletter, September 2008


Comment

By Paul Wimbush
Project coordinator

Lammas was formed to work within the planning system to create an opportunity for eco-smallholders to live on the land without becoming outlaws.

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 framework.

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.

With faith,

Paul


 


Lammas News

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 each.
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.

Click here for details


Calling all
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 Saville,
jasmine@gourmetorganic.co.uk
tel 07773 372280


As a Lammas member you will recieve email updates like this one.
If you would prefer not to recieve these emails please reply with the subject 'remove'.