A hut in the woods: creating spaces that change how we relate to the world

Thoreaus_quote_near_his_cabin_site,_Walden_PondImagine a small, simple, handmade building that resonates with a sense of humanity in balance with the rest of the natural world. Through the ages, huts have provided this bridge between nature and culture: a work of art you can live in.

For the last four years Reforesting Scotland’s campaign for A Thousand Huts has worked hard to remove the barriers to building a simple, low impact hut in the woods. Last year’s inclusion of huts in the new Scottish Planning Policy was a huge milestone and a significant leap forward, but a lot of work is required to make the dream a reality. The new policy needs to be embraced by the worlds of planning, building standards, and those with access to land (whether private, public, or community owners). So there is a lot of work to do in communicating the technicalities of hutting and the opportunities huts can offer in terms of wellbeing, nature connection, and ecologically sustainable rural development.

Here’s an update on just some of our work in the last few months:

A Pilot Hut Site on Forestry Commission land. This project is progressing well and we hope it will serve as an inspiring demonstration of Continue reading

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Voting open for ‘Shed of the Year’

Cormac SeekingVoting is open for Channel 4’s ‘Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year 2015′, and this year’s shortlist includes at least one from the Thousand Huts network: Cormac Seeking’s beautiful log cabin, which has featured on so many of our hut promotions. You can vote for Cormac’s hut here – or for any of the other dazzling entries, for that matter!

While it might pain many hutters to refer to their masterpiece as a ‘shed’, there is no doubt that the ‘Shed of the Year’ competition shows an amazing range of mischief, innovation and sheer creativity. There are lots of great ideas there, as well as a fair bit of inspiration to get building!

Cast your vote soon – voting closes at noon on May 29th 2015.

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Imagining hut sites for 21st Century

Pine-Trees-Hut-1-construction-shot[3]On April 13th 2015 a seminar was held to explore the opportunities, challenges and questions that face those who wish to create new hut sites for 21st century hutters that are beautiful, affordable and sustainable.

The day started with a site visit to a prospective hut site on Falkland Estate, attended by the majority of participants, providing an opportunity to visualise how a hut site with up to 20 huts might sit within the landscape.

Introductions revealed a breadth of experience, knowledge and motivations amongst the twenty seven participants. Presentations were given about two potential hutting sites – Carnock Wood (Forestry Commission) and Falkland Estate.

In the afternoon, participants opted-in to two rounds of exploratory sessions, during which insights and questions were captured and briefly fed back to the wider group at the end of the day. Key issues included: How to get a hut site; How to build flourishing relationships between landowners & hutters, and financial models.

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2015 – it’s going to be a good year for huts!

ninian-at-his-hutLast June’s inclusion of huts in the new Scottish Planning Policy amounted to just a few words. But one small step for planning policy is a giant leap for all those who dream of spending time in a small, simple cabin in the woods. The policy makes reference to huts, suggesting that Local Authorities consider them for intermittent recreational use. Crucially, it includes the following definition of a hut:

A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation (i.e. not a principal residence); having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life. Huts may be built singly or in groups.

Contained in this simple definition are all the elements that make a hut a sensitive and low-impact development: small size; environmentally appropriate materials; and off-grid living.

A shared hutting history

Like many other Northern European countries, Scotland has a long history of this type of hutting. Between the First and Second World Wars there was a flurry of new hutting. Industrial workers from the urban centres of Scotland would build a simple hut, often using materials scavenged and reclaimed Continue reading

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The rise of hutting in Scotland

sept7leftHutting is gaining a bigger following in Scotland. Many people talk about the wonders of spending time closer to nature and in a small place they can call their own not far from the towns and cities. Here Fiona Russell talks to several keen Scottish hutters.

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Fantastic crowd at the Hutters Rally

BsV_wG2IUAAwGzOOn 12th July 2014, over 150 people gathered in Maryhill Burgh Hall in Glasgow to celebrate the recent recognition of huts in Scottish Planning Policy, and to explore the barriers to, and opportunities for, a new hutting movement in Scotland. The strength of will and enthusiasm in the room was palpable and we all came away with the strong feeling of positive momentum.
 
Maryhill Burgh Hall proved to be a fantastic venue, and the morning saw excellent speakers set the tone for the day. Ninian Stuart, founder of A Thousand Huts, opened the day, and Carbeth hutter Alan Graham gave everyone a taste of the stories of Scotland’s largest hutting site in advance of the afternoon’s site visit there. Alastair McIntosh led a rousing rallying cry which took us from politics to theology in lightning time! Lesley Riddoch had us all on the edge of our seats with her thorough comparative analysis of the opportunities for hutting in Scotland and Norway. Everyone got the chance to participate in the Panel Discussion featuring Donald McPhillimy, Anne Cunningham, Gerry Loose and Alastair McIntosh, chaired by Lesley Riddoch, before the workshops began. Our site visit to Carbeth was wonderful. We were given a very warm welcome from the Carbeth Hutters, some of whom not only welcomed us into their huts, but also plied us with such delicacies as home made macaroons and birch sap wine! Continue reading

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Come to the Hutters’ Rally – July 12 – Glasgow

Cordwood buildingHutters and would-be hutters! Come to our Rally on 12th July in Glasgow and find out how the change in Scottish Planning Policy is a first step for new hutting in Scotland. The speakers will include Lesley Riddoch and Alastair McIntosh, plus a panel discussion about the future of hutting, workshops on all things hut-related, then a site-visit to Carbeth Hutters Community. To order your tickets click here.

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Huts have a home in new Scottish Planning Policy

Carbeth-Thistle-Dae-hutFrom today, Scottish planning policy supports – for the first time – the construction of huts in rural settings for recreational accommodation.

The new Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), published today, recommends that development plans make provision for huts for intermittent recreational occupation. Until now, there has been no specific provision in Scottish planning policy or legislation for the building of a simple hut or cabin where people can sleep from time to time for leisure and relaxation.

The inclusion of huts in the new SPP follows the consultation input of hundreds of hut enthusiasts through campaigns by A Thousand Huts and Friends of the Earth Scotland. Thousand Huts has been working since 2011 to nurture and encourage the growth of a Scottish hutting culture similar to that seen in Scandinavian countries. This would offer ordinary people from all walks of life the chance to build a rustic, low-impact retreat where they could relax and spend leisure time surrounded by nature.

Ninian Stuart, one of the founders of A Thousand Huts and Director of Reforesting Scotland, said: “Huts are part of Scotland’s history, and the need for them – for wellbeing and a sense of connection with nature – is as strong as ever. We believe the provision in the new Scottish Planning Policy hails a new era for the revival of hutting in Scotland. Though there are barriers to be removed, networks to build and much to do in terms of bringing private and public landowners on board, this is a very significant step forward for us.” Continue reading

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Hutters’ Rally – full programme available now! 

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets now for the Hutters’ Rally on 12th July in Glasgow at Maryhill Burgh Hall

graeme purves pic of carbeth hut9am       Arrive and Register at Maryhill Burgh Hall
9.30am   An introduction to the campaign from Ninian Stuart, Thousand Huts campaigner
9.40am   A lively slideshow about Scotland’s largest hutting site. By Alan Graham of Carbeth Hutters Community. Followed by a short visual presentation introducing the opportunity for new hutting in Scotland. By Karen Grant, Thousand Huts campaigner
9.55am    Huts as connection with nature and community – a rallying cry by campaigner Alistair McIntosh
10.10am    A new hutting movement for Scotland? – Broadcaster and campaigner Lesley Riddoch explores the parallels between Scotland and Norway, takes a look at Scotland’s hutting history and presents some ideas on what a future hutting movement for Scotland could look like.
10.25am  Panel on the future of hutting in Scotland – open to questions from the floor. Chaired by Lesley Riddoch. The Panel will include planning consultant Anne Cunningham, Writer and Carbeth Hutter Gerry Loose, forestry consultant and Thousand Huts campaigner Donald McPhilimy, and writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh.
 
11.15am    Break for teas, coffees and biscuits. A chance to sign up for the Discussion Sessions.
 
11.40am     Discussion sessions. Participants will have a chance to choose two 45-minute sessions to join during this part of the day. These will take the shape of informal facilitated group discussions each for up to 12 people. They will include:
Huts and building regulation – with Peter Caunt of Quercus Rural Building Design
Building your own hut – with architect Sam Foster
Carbeth Hutters Community – with Writer and Carbeth Hutter Gerry Loose
Ask the planner: Advice and discussion – with Planning Consultant Anne Cunningham
Huts and land rights – with Alastair McIntosh
Huts on public, private and community land- hutters’ and landlords’ needs.– with Donald McPhilimy
Access to land for hutting: What are your options? – t.b.c.
Hutting and ecological sustainability – with sculptor and environmentalist Jeremy Cunningham
Building the hutting movement in Scotland – with Ninian Stuart
The Economics of Hutting: For those considering setting up a hutting site – with Alan Graham, Treasurer at Carbeth Hutters Community
Off Grid Living – t.b.c.
 
1.30pm   Lunch Tickets are available for lunch by advanced online purchase only, as we need to notify our caterers of numbers a fortnight before the event. You can buy your ticket at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-hutters-rally-tickets-11595266755
 
2.30pm    Site visit to Carbeth Hutting Community. We’ve booked a double-decker bus!  Places are limited, so please buy your ticket at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-hutters-rally-tickets-11595266755
We’ll be hosted by a team of volunteers from Carbeth who will let us see some of the historic and newer huts. Carbeth is at a beautiful location on the West Highland Way, just north of Glasgow. It has been a hutting site since the 1920s, when it was set up to benefit the industrial workers of Clydebank and Maryhill. There are still 140 huts there, and last year the hutters managed to buy the land as a Community Trust.
6.30pm  The bus will arrive back to Maryhill Burgh Community Hall, Glasgow.

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Come to the Hutters’ Rally on 12 July!

 

Raising the frame at a Timber Frame Building course at Falkland

Raising the frame at a Timber Frame Building course at Falkland

Booking is now open for the Hutters’ Rally – a great event for hutters and would-be hutters alike. It will take place on Saturday 12 July in Glasgow, with an optional site visit to Carbeth Hutters Community. It will also be a opportunity for planners, builders, landowners and community groups to come and discover the possibilities which could be created by a new hutting movement. Our speakers will include broadcaster and hut-enthusiast Lesley Riddoch, and campaigner Alastair McIntosh. There will be a range of workshops on everything from hutting opportunities, access to land, planning and the economics of hutting. In the afternoon those participants who would like to do so can join a field trip to Carbeth Hutters’ Community near Glasgow. You can book tickets for the morning event and the bus trip to Carbeth here. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on huts@reforestingscotland.org

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