‘Huts in Place': a fantastic event as part of Archifringe

temporary hut northscapeLast weekend, an event called 57 degrees North: Huts in Place was held as part of Archifringe, there were two days of huts, bothies, cultural adventures and workshops based at Abriachan forest classroom. You can listen to audio of the various workshops on the link below. Organiser Mairi McFadyen describes what happened:

“We had a great afternoon yesterday up in Abriachan forest discussing all things hutting as part of 57 Degrees North at the Architecture Fringe yesterday. Huge thanks to Lesley Riddoch, Karen Grant of Reforesting Scotland and Highland-based ecologist Emily Hesling for fantastic contributions and to the Forest School for hosting the event. Cakes galore!

Karen spoke about the ongoing campaign and outlined recent policy and legislation. She also highlighted in the cultural importance of the bothy or hut as a space for creativity.


Emily shared some wisdom and insights in terms of environmental considerations when planning a hut build, outlining steps you can take to ensure your hut has as little environmental impact as possible (while an ecological survey is not necessary requirement, it can only add to any proposal). She also discussed creative ways in which a hut could even add to the local biodiversity.

We have recorded these talks with thanks to Chris Wright of Local Voices and these are now available at the link below. We also enjoyed spending time in the new Northscape – Highland show hut – an experiment for the fesitval constructed as far as possible with local materials (much of the wood was sourced from Abriachan forest itself). With thanks to Wild Gorse Studio the hut also showcased work from local artists, designers and makers. The hut builders would love to hear your feedback!
www.northscape.scot

Listen to some of the talks here:

www.northscape.scot/projects-1/2017/7/20/57-degrees-north-huts-in-place

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ‘Huts in Place': a fantastic event as part of Archifringe

Scottish Government cuts red tape for new wave of huts

 

Hut designed by Jack Hughes and Lucy Eccles

Hut designed by Jack Hughes and Lucy Eccles

As part of a plan to revive hut culture in Scotland, new legislation has come into force on 1st July 2017 to make it easier for people to build a simple hut for recreational use.

The Scottish Government has created a new building type[1] for huts which will reduce the regulatory burden for hut builders, in effect exempting huts from most building regulations, and reducing the need for Building Warrants in key areas of health and safety where regulations still need to be met. Not only will this reduce the burden on hutters, it will also reduce the burden on building standards officers, saving money for local authorities. This change is in response to the recent SG consultation showing widespread support for a relaxing of restrictions on the building of simple woodland huts.

In recent years an enthusiasm for hut life has grown in momentum, spearheaded by the charity Reforesting Scotland[2]. Supporters of simple, low impact living have been frustrated by the lack of a planning or regulatory framework to allow construction of a simple recreational hut.

In 2014 the Scottish Government brought in a new policy[3] in support of huts for recreational use, with a tight definition of the low impact nature of huts[4]. The latest change is part of the rolling out of that policy and means that a burden of expense and regulation will be lifted from hut owners.[5]

Reforesting Scotland huts campaigner, Peter Caunt ,said, “It’s important to state that hut builders will still be required to apply for planning permission to build a hut. It will then be their own responsibility to ensure they comply with high standards of health and safety, and low environmental impact. Some areas, such as underground drainage, will still require a Building Warrant, whereas in other areas, such as structure, the responsibility is theirs to comply with the relevant regulations. If they don’t comply, they will be liable if something goes wrong.”

To help hutters meet these standards, Reforesting Scotland is producing a Guide to Good Practice in Hut Construction, due to be published next month. Last year, the group published a sister document about planning issues for huts, New hutting developments: Good Practice Guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites.[6]

——

[1] The new Type 23A in Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations covers detached single-storey buildings used for shelter or sleeping in connection with recreation. The type has a number of limitations which include a maximum floor area of 30 square metres, minimum distance to a boundary or other buildings, and maximum floor area of any gallery or galleries. A building warrant would be required if the limitations are not met. Although the new Type 23A does not require a building warrant, construction must meet the requirements of standards 1.1, 3.17 to 3.22 and 4.4 of schedule 5 as provided for by changes to regulation 9 of the building regulations. These cover building structure, combustion appliances and pedestrian protective barriers at changes in level.

[2] Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has worked for 6 years to achieve these changes and has many thousands of supporters. See www.thousandhuts.org

[3] See Scottish Planning Policy 2014 www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00453827.pdf

[4] The definition of huts in Scottish Planning Policy is: 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.

[5] In the new legislation, Type 23A in Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations will apply to huts. In effect, it exempts huts from many building regulations except for some key areas including structure, stoves, barriers and underground drainage. While the hut builder will be required by law to comply with the regulations in these non-exempt areas, in most cases they will not be required to get a Building Warrant (exceptions include underground drainage).

[6] www.thousandhuts.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/160215-Huts-Guidance-FINAL-screen-res.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Scottish Government cuts red tape for new wave of huts

Seminar report: From our event for landowners and managers considering developing a hut site on their land

Report prepared by Neil Hutson

A Historic Milestone

FOLLOWING the recent success of planning regulation changes at the end of 2016, Reforesting Scotland held a one day landowners’ seminar in late April at the Falkland Centre for Stewardship in Fife. Attendees included private landowners, investors and representatives from industry, all united by their interest in the hutting movement.

The purpose of the seminar was to gather together like-minded individuals and start a conversation about the current state of hutting in Scotland and where the future opportunities lie. Current demand for huts far outstrips supply, but we hope to change that by encouraging shared hutting sites on private, community and publicly owned land.

While attendees were from diverse backgrounds, everyone had a common goal – to learn more about hutting. Some had already dabbled in the world of hutting or perhaps glamping, but most recognised the difference between short-stay tourism sites and the creation of long term shared hutting sites and the community created around them.

Presentation and Updates

During the seminar the attendees heard updates from Reforesting Scotland on the progress of two trial hutting sites (at Carnock and Falkland) and the Thousand Huts Campaign. Presentations were also given by representatives from Forest Enterprise Scotland, Community Land Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and Savills.

Carnock Wood

Donald McPhillimy from Reforesting Scotland and Richard Heggie from Urban Animation, have worked extremely hard over the past 3 years progressing the hutting site at Carnock Wood in Fife. Working in conjunction with Forest Enterprise Scotland the aim of the project has been to create a framework for prospective hutters, landlords and council planning offices to follow and replicate in the future.

After a detailed planning process, full planning permission is hoped for soon. The Carnock Wood site will consist of 10 huts plus 2 huts reserved for local people, as well as a communal space which could be used by the local primary schools.

Richard offered his tips for dealing with council planning offices. Typically they want to know:

  • How many huts?
  • Where are they going to be placed?
  • Where will people park?
  • Will there be composting toilets?
  • Will any trees need to be removed?
  • Addressing these questions quickly will greatly help any hutting project

Andrew Clark from Forest Enterprise Scotland briefly talked about the advantages of the leasing model that will be implemented at Carnock Wood. Hutters will be encouraged to form a community group which will manage individual hut leases and liaise with Forest Enterprise Scotland. This allows the land managers to remain largely hands-off but ultimately retain control of the site.

FALKLAND ESTATE
The ethos of hutting was nicely summarised during Ninian Stuart’s presentation.

The building a of huts by and for the people of Scotland who don’t have access to the land and the chance to enjoy a small, simple dwelling on the land”- Ninian Stuart

This ethos is reflected in the hutting site project within the Falkland Estate. The project started 7 years ago following Ninian’s transformative experience of building and enjoying his own hut. At the time he received help from a local craftsman to build his hut and has since been working to give others the opportunity to do the same.

The proposed hut site is within Cash Woods near to Pillars of Hercules farm and café. The plan is to allow hutters to either purchase kits from the estate and build their huts themselves, or allow the estate to supply and build the hut. Wood for the huts built by the estate will be provided from their own working woods.

Hutters at the Falkland site will be asked to abide by both a design agreement and voluntary code of practice. Similarly to the Carnock Wood site hutters will lease the land and form a community group for managing the site and liaise with the Falkland Estate.

Maggie Mitchell, Director of Business Development for the Falkland Estate Trust, was able to share the process of establishing the hutting site as a business prospect. The woods around Falkland estate are traditionally used for forestry, so any activity that replaces this needs to be financially sustainable. In this sense the Cash Wood hutting site is perhaps more relevant to the average landowner. While this hutting site has good, holistic intentions it’s important to realise that it’s not a charitable endeavour. Whatever is established within the site needs to be self-supporting and at least minimally income generating.

Maggie also stressed the importance of a robust tenancy agreement for the protection of both the landowners and hutters. Clear and frequent communication will be key for the arrangement to function.
Ninian and Donald playfully described their projects as a two horse race to be the first new hutting site in Scotland since 1947. A race which is seemingly close to finishing.

Thousand Huts

“Making hutting accessible and affordable for urban people to get back into nature for health and wellbeing” – Karen Grant

Karen Grant from Reforesting Scotland provided a brief update on the Thousand Huts campaign. To date the campaign has successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a definition of a hut in the 2014 Scottish Planning Policy and a relaxing of the building regulation rules around hut building.

The campaign also just released their guidelines for a hutting voluntary code of good practice. It contains vital information about planning matters, hutters’ rights, landowner rights and lease suggestions.

Karen was quick to point out that hutting is fundamentally different from seemingly similar prospects such as rental holiday homes or glamping sites. Hutting is fundamentally about creating a connection back to nature. For shared hutting sites it’s about creating a real community of likeminded individuals who are committed to stewardship and preservation of the natural environment around them. Hutting sites are a long term investment for all parties concerned.

Savills

Angus Dodds from Savills is a long-time advocate of the hutting movement. He warned of the reputational damage that could be done to hutting if the basic design parameters were ignored and the original low-impact ethos was lost. He cited accommodation sharing websites as a current example of where a good idea has suffered reputational damage, owing to a perception that they are creating conflict between different groups as a result of departing from their original purpose.

Angus and Savills believe that hutting doesn’t need to be reserved for the privileged few but rather should be open and available to as many people as possible.

Community Land Scotland

Linsay Chalmers from Community Land Scotland was on hand to provide a view of the hutting movement from the perspective of community landowners. They are drawn to hutting due to the coming together of communities and the boost to the local economy unlike holiday/second homes which harm local economies by driving up house prices.

However the primary driver for community landowners is to increase the number of permanent residents in the area, especially in areas of falling populations, so they are interested  in projects like hutting which can increase quality of life and make the most of resources in a low impact way.

Falkland Site Tour

After a morning of presentations, updates and discussions a quick taxi ride was necessary to make the journey to Cash Wood, the site for the Falkland Estate hutting project.

After a brief introduction from the Reforesting Scotland team, attendees were led round the site in small groups and invited to explore and imagine the sights and sounds of the near future as this humble strip of woodland fills with hutters. Proposed hut plots had been marked out with wooden stakes to give a feel for the layout of the site.

In the distance across the field it was just possible to see Ninian’s own personal hut, the next stop on the tour.

A simple and elegant structure, Ninian’s hut has all he needs for a comfortable overnight stay and peaceful retreat. Attendees were also able to meet Ninian’s hutting neighbour Willy Slavin who kindly opened his door. 77 year old Willy from Glasgow describes himself as a hermit with an ipad and spends a lot more time in his humble hut than Ninian.

Questions and Answers

Throughout the day attendees were encouraged to ask questions and strike up discussions. These are just some of the questions which came out on the day.

Q. Is planning scrutiny for a single hut less than for a hutting site?

The issues faced by a single hut are slightly different to those faced by a hutting site. Individual huts do require planning permission but their purpose is more easily understood and less likely to face opposition.

A group of 5, 10 or 15 huts becomes much more visible. Planning problems are multiplied and planning permission is required. At the Carnock Wood site the Thousand Huts campaign has had to navigate a prolonged but hopefully ultimately successful planning application process.

Q. How much detail needs to go into a pre-planning application?

The advantage of the pre-planning application process is that planners will let you know what additional information they require. Essentially, they will want to know where your site is and what you want to do on it.   Simple hut designs would be useful at this stage. Remember to stick within the definition of a hut given within the 2014 Scottish Planning Policy.

Q. Can you apply for general planning permission for a site and let individual hutter apply for their own additional permission?

Planners generally want to know what to expect from the outset of the process. Therefore, they need to know a certain amount about hut designs at the pre-planning stage. They will be relatively flexible, so hut designs can be adjusted within reason during the process. Cooperate with the planners’ requests and keep good lines of communication open.

A planning concept known as ‘non-material variation’ can allow hutters to introduce individuality to their huts, so long as they make use of the same materials and are roughly the same size as the other huts on the site. Individual hutters can still apply for their own planning permission later on down the line if they want a more radical design, however this would cause an amendment to the planning application and would have a cost.

Plot passports and design codes are another way of creating hut design flexible during the planning stage. This would allow for a change in hut design so long as it abided by the approved design code.

Q. What are the infrastructure costs at Carnock Wood and Falkland Estate hutting sites?

These are still largely unknown but are much less than those for building a house. Within the low impact ethos, infrastructure is kept to a minimum. For example, cars should be parked near the entrance of the site, and tracks should be kept to a minimum level of impact. The main costs could be access to a car park (already present at Carnock via a forest road), building a car park capable of taking the cars of all the hut owners, a possible temporary track to bring building materials to the various sites and a water supply to stand pipes. All the other costs – for example, building the huts on simple above the ground foundations would be the responsibility of the hutters.

Q. What’s your opinion on wood burning stoves? Will they be allowed in the Carnock and Falkland sites?

Yes! For many hutters the humble wood burning stove is a quintessential part of their hut, providing heat, cooking facilities and a comforting glow all year round. However wood burning stoves can also be dangerous, especially in buildings predominantly constructed from wood. Details on safely fitting a wood burning stoves will be found within the Good Practice Guide to Hut Construction to be published soon.

Q: Did SEPA raise any concerns about composting toilets during the planning permission process?

In Carnock Wood the plan is to use dry composting toilets. While applying for planning permission the planning office initially raised concerns about leaching of waste into waterways, but were satisfied with the proposed plans. SEPA on the other hand is not expected to take an interest in the composting toilets on any hutting site.

Q. How do you plan to deal with waste water from cooking and washing, etc?

Huts aren’t expected to generate a significant amount of waste or grey water. A simple small scale solution such as a soakaway should be more than satisfactory to deal with waste water. Another solution would be for individual hutters to collect waste water and dispose of it appropriately like in a caravan or motorhome.

Q: Is there a requirement to provide access to hutting sites by car?

Not specifically. Having decent access by car to the hutting site is useful during the building process, however there’s no requirement that it should be provided. In Carnock Wood local planners did show an interest in the ability for emergency vehicles to access the site car park, but not the hutting site directly.

In order to increase accessibility strong public transport links to a hutting site can be beneficial. However it quickly becomes a trade-off between accessibility and a desirable level of ‘remoteness’.

Q: Do huts and hutters benefit from permitted development after the hut has been built?

Huts have no permitted development rights. If hutters wish to build additional wooden buildings or additional decking after the initial construction of their hut, they should discuss this with their local planning officer.

Q: Does Reforesting Scotland have any experience in building within Scotland’s two National Parks?

Not directly but there have been very preliminary discussions. In theory, a hutting site or an individual hut could be an appropriate development within the national parks. Like any other development, planning permission would be granted based on the detail within the planning application. In due course both national parks are likely to produce their own guidance on hutting. Although national parks planning offices are often more supportive of tourism development, this remains to be tested with a hutting site.

Q: Can a group of people apply for joint lease in a single hut?

This isn’t something that has been attempted yet, although the potential benefit is obvious – a group of people sharing a hut. However it also raises issues such as potentially increased occupancy. At the moment there are no rules about the number of days a hut can be occupied, so long as it’s not the hutters’ primary residence.

It is expected that most landlords will encourage their hutters to form a group (perhaps with a similar structure to a sports club, for example), meaning the landlord can deal with the group rather than individual hutters. If the social group is able to work out a shared lease arrangement for a hut then there’s nothing stopping it from happening.

Want to start your own project?

Reforesting Scotland can help advise you on your own project. Don’t hesitate to get in touch at huts@reforestingscotland.org. Here are some final tips to remember for a successful hutting site:

  • Try to pick a suitable site where the natural environment lends itself to hutting.
  • Keep open lines of communication during the planning process and be clear about your plans
  • Foster the involvement of the local community
  • Keep the hutting site affordable but also financially sustainable. Hutting should be for the many, not the privileged few.
  • You may wish to ask the hutters to form a group to make administration more manageable by removing the need to deal with individuals.

More information can be found in the forthcoming Good Practice Guide and Voluntary Code of Good Practice. In the meantime –  to the hills, to the huts, to happiness

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Seminar report: From our event for landowners and managers considering developing a hut site on their land

Calling all landowners and land managers: Are you interested in creating a hut site?

Pine-Trees-Hut-1-construction-shot[3]Are you a landowner or manager considering developing a hut site on your land? Then we would like to hear from you; whether you are from the private sector, community sector or public sector. We have a list of over 850 people who would like a hut in Scotland, so we want to help support those who have an interest in creating new hutting opportunities.
Later this month we will host a seminar for landowners and managers, in collaboration with Community Land Scotland, the Community Woodlands Association and Scottish Land and Estates. We are planning an event on Thursday 27th April which will include workshops, speakers, site visits and lots of information to help you progress your plans for a hut site on your land.

Places will be very limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. However, do get in touch if you are interested and if you don’t get a place this time we will keep you in the loop for future events!

To register an interest in attending the event, please contact DonaldMcPhillimy4[at]gmail.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Calling all landowners and land managers: Are you interested in creating a hut site?

Just one day left – Carbeth needs your help!

Carbeth-Thistle-Dae-hutThe Carbeth Hutters are asking for your help. They have the chance to purchase some remaining land within the hutting site which would allow them to increase the benefit to all the users of the site. They have been working to get funds together for this for some time. Now they have only 1 day left to raise the remaining money they need. They are nearly there, but they need more. If you would like to help them with a donation, you can do so here.

The money raised, added to their own hard-saved funds, will allow them to buy the remaining parcels of land which sit in and around Carbeth Hutting areas. This once-in-a-lifetime offer includes the site of an historic droving inn and two large fields in the middle of the hutting areas. With this new land, not only would they protect the future of Carbeth Hutting, but they could develop new initiatives to support this special tradition, including: a memorial woodland, wood school, hutting museum and unique off-grid visitor centre. It would allow them to see off the real threat of a private property developer.

In 2013, after fourteen years of a land dispute, Hutters bought-out the land they occupied for themselves, their families and visitors from around the world. These are not wealthy people, but a genuinely diverse community from areas of Glasgow and Clydebank with historic connections to Carbeth and from further afield.They are builders, artists, carers, youth workers, trades unionists, teachers, reformed addicts. They are also fun, enterprising, welcoming and passionate. And they need your help.

Carbeth has had a special place in Scottish history for nearly one hundred years. Now is the time you can join their story and put the final piece of the jigsaw in place as part of their centenary celebrations.

Every donation, no matter how small will help them to fully secure
Carbeth for future generations!

To donate, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Just one day left – Carbeth needs your help!

Huts, the planning system and building regulations

Our good practice guidance on planning hut developments

Our good practice guidance on planning hut developments

There has been some confusion in the press recently about the regulatory requirements for planning permission and hut construction. Here is a summary of the current situation for those wishing to build new huts:

  • There IS a requirement to apply for planning permission to build a hut. However, the Scottish Planning Policy published in 2014 includes encouragement for planning authorities to consider huts for recreational use, and includes a definition of a hut.
  • In support of this policy, Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has published the guidance paper New hutting developments: Good practice guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites which can be used to help applicants or planners considering new hut developments.
  • The Scottish Government has said that they plan to EXEMPT huts from building regulations by creating a new building type for huts. Huts will still need planning permission but the will have a much lighter regulatory burden in terms of how they are constructed, and in many cases may not require any building warrant at all.
  • However, this exemption is dependent on hut builders following health and safety guidance contained in a new publication currently under production (look out for more information on this in coming months).

There is often confusion about the difference between planning and building control. Planning rules are there to manage and control the way that towns and countryside develop. Planners are interested in the siting, design, use and environmental impact of a development. Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings largely to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. Although the two areas overlap, their key roles and regulation are completely different. They are managed by different staff within planning authorities.

The change in planning policy in relation to huts

Since 2014 Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) encourages local authorities to consider the construction of huts in rural settings for recreational accommodation.

Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign was instrumental in achieving this change in policy. Until it was published, there was 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.

To support the rolling out of Scottish planning policy on huts, we have produced New hutting developments: Good practice guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites, a document reviewed by planning professionals on a local and national level. This work was funded by the Planning Exchange Foundation.

The guidance is based on the SPP 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.

As a result of the shift in planning policy, we are beginning to see new proposals for hut sites coming forward. We recently surveyed over 800 people who would like to have access to a hut for recreational use. The demand is large, and growing. All this will take time, but the first important step has been made. Perhaps the biggest barrier of all – access to land – will be the most challenging. However, hutters will need to think creatively around the opportunities that do exist through private landlords, public landowning bodies and community-owned land, to find opportunities for new hut sites.

The change in building regulations in relation to huts

Following overwhelming support in the recent consultation, the Scottish Government has published its plans to create a new building type in the building regulations to exempt huts and bothies up to 30m2.  In a new report following their consultation earlier in 2016, the Government noted that consultation responses ranged from 75% to 98% in favour of the proposals to exempt huts.

The Government has stated that it intends to proceed with this legislative change early in 2017, and has made some improvements to the proposals in response to the consultees’ comments: they have taken on board that there is overwhelming support for the inclusion of sleeping platforms in huts, and have expressed a commitment to addressing this.

The Scottish Government report states: “The Scottish Government (SG) in developing the policy considered the main driver of the Reforesting Scotland campaign was to allow huts i.e. buildings with sleeping accommodation to be built in more rural locations, without the need for formal permission (a building warrant) from the local authority or indeed to comply with the building regulations. This was in order to reduce building costs, and make huts and bothies more affordable to more people. The new exempt type proposed maintains key legislative health and safety safeguards for these types of building. This is indeed a move away from other exempt building types in Schedule 1 as sleeping accommodation has been considered in the exempt building type. The SGs main focus is considering public safety for people using and sleeping in huts and bothies.”

A crucial element of maintaining key health and safety safeguards will be the production of a Good Practice Guide by Reforesting Scotland. In order to get the exemptions, hut builders will be responsible for ensuring that their building meets the good practice standards set out in our guide. This will ensure that the health and safety of hut builders and occupants are not compromised by the freedoms afforded by the new exemptions.

The Scottish Government response to the consultation on the introduction of regulatory concessions for huts and bothies in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 has been published on the Scottish Government website athttp://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00511710.pdf

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Huts, the planning system and building regulations

Don’t believe the papers! Huts DO still need planning permission

Hut designed by Jack Hughes and Lucy Eccles

Hut designed by Jack Hughes and Lucy Eccles

Some of you may have seen this weekend’s article about hutting in The Observer newspaper – a full page of enthusiastic support for hut life. Unfortunately, however, the reporter has made the common mistake of confusing planning and building regulations – and wrongly states that huts do not require planning permission. Not only that, the writer misquotes our campaigner, Karen Grant, supporting the misconception that planning and building regulations are the same thing. All a bit frustrating for Karen and the Thousand Huts campaign team – particularly as this article has now been repeated in The Times online.

To clarify, here is a summary of the current situation for those wishing to build new huts:

  • There IS a requirement to apply for planning permission to build a hut. However, the Scottish Planning Policy published in 2014 includes encouragement for planning authorities to consider huts for recreational use, and includes a definition of a hut.
  • In support of this policy, Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has published the guidance paper New hutting developments: Good practice guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites which can be used to help applicants or planners considering new hut developments.
  • The Scottish Government has said that they plan to EXEMPT huts from building regulations by creating a new building type for huts. Huts will still need planning permission but the will have a much lighter regulatory burden in terms of how they are constructed, and in many cases may not require any building warrant at all.
  • However, this exemption is dependent on hut builders following health and safety guidance contained in a new publication currently under production (look out for more information on this in coming months).

Many people do not understand the difference between planning and building control. Planning rules are there to manage and control the way that towns and countryside develop. Planners are interested in the siting, design, use and environmental impact of a development. Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings largely to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. Although the two areas overlap, their key roles and regulation are completely different. They are managed by different staff within planning authorities.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Don’t believe the papers! Huts DO still need planning permission

Scottish Government announces plans to exempt huts from building regs

 


peter-and-his-hut
Following overwhelming support in the recent consultation, the Scottish Government has published its plans to create a new building type in the building regulations to exempt huts and bothies up to 30m2. In a new report following their consultation earlier in 2016, the Government noted that consultation responses ranged from 75% to 98% in favour of the proposals to exempt huts.

The Government has stated that it intends to proceed with this legislative change early in 2017, and has made some improvements to the proposals in response to the consultees’ comments: they have taken on board that there is overwhelming support for the inclusion of sleeping platforms in huts, and have expressed a commitment to addressing this.

The Scottish Government report states: “The Scottish Government (SG) in developing the policy considered the main driver of the Reforesting Scotland campaign was to allow huts i.e. buildings with sleeping accommodation to be built in more rural locations, without the need for formal permission (a building warrant) from the local authority or indeed to comply with the building regulations. This was in order to reduce building costs, and make huts and bothies more affordable to more people. The new exempt type proposed maintains key legislative health and safety safeguards for these types of building. This is indeed a move away from other exempt building types in Schedule 1 as sleeping accommodation has been considered in the exempt building type. The SGs main focus is considering public safety for people using and sleeping in huts and bothies.”

bernard-cabin1A crucial element of maintaining key health and safety safeguards will be the production of a Good Practice Guide by Reforesting Scotland. We are hoping to finalise this document in Spring 2017. In order to get the exemptions, hut builders will be responsible for ensuring that their building meets the good practice standards set out in our guide. This will ensure that the health and safety of hut builders and occupants are not compromised by the freedoms afforded by the new exemptions.

The Scottish Government response to the consultation on the introduction of regulatory concessions for huts and bothies in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 has been published on the Scottish Government website at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00511710.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Scottish Government announces plans to exempt huts from building regs

Ten ways to keep hutting affordable for all: it’s possible but it needs us all to make the effort…

Credit Fran HigsonThanks to the changes in planning policy the door is open for new hut sites, and we very much hope that this Autumn will bring an announcement from the Scottish Government about exemptions for huts from most building regulations.

These two important steps open up new possibilities for hutting in Scotland. The Thousand Huts campaign was set up to remove barriers to hutting and help support the development of a new hutting movement in Scotland. The campaign’s  vision for this movement is that it would be accessible to people of all income brackets – that the benefits of hutting would improve the lives of everyone who needed it. But how can this vision become reality?

Are affordable huts a pipe dream?

Currently the demand for huts far, far exceeds the supply. We have a list of over 800 people who would like a hut – and this is surely the tip of the iceberg. Market forces and economic pressures will affect the cost of land rental for huts. Building huts, and preparing hut sites with access, water and any other services all cost money. Sometimes it can be done cheaply, but often it costs a LOT of money, as we’re discovering with our own hut site pilot.

Fortunately there are several ways to keep hutting more affordable – albeit with a lot of effort and commitment by all involved.

Affordable hutting is something that no single organisation can deliver: it’s down to the efforts of all hutters, landlords and hut site management groups to help make it happen. It must be fundamental to the ethos of the new hutting movement.

Here are some suggestions of ways to make it happen. We’d love to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions for making this list better.

Ten ways to help keep hutting affordable for all

1. Affordable organising: Follow the traditional hut site model. What we’re calling the traditional hut site model is actually a modernised version. The traditional model is that hutters pay ground rent to a landlord (which could be an individual or a public body or community organisation). We’re recommending that groups of hutters in a hut site then form a Hutters Trust (or similar body) to manage the site. This Trust can be responsible for sharing costs and work to make the site viable for all. As a constitituted group, this Trust may have more access to funding to help with these costs.

2. Affordable rents: Practice fair hutting. We are in the process of finalising a Voluntary Code of Conduct between Hutters and Landlords. It sets out points to form the basis of a fair tenancy agreement between hutter and landlord. We also have a team of volunteers working on analysing our Hutters Surveys. This contains data on existing ground rents and also what prospective hutters say they could afford. The results of these surveys will be used to help prospective site owners or managers to set fair rates for ground rent.

3. Buying land: Individuals getting together to buy land. With land prices as they are, owning land is not necessarily a viable option for an individual for affordable hutting. However, one of the ways it may be more possible is if a large group of people get together to share the cost of land purchase and site development. It’s worth keeping an eye on property auctions and an ear to the grapevine to find out when more affordable parcels of land become available. The Thousand Huts facebook group is another good way of hearing what is available. It may also be worth looking at possible legal structures for this type of group – following the model of housing co-operatives, for example, may be useful.

4. Buying land: Community groups purchasing a site. In recent years there has been a rise in support for community-ownership of assets. You will find a wealth of experience of this within bodies like the Development Trusts Association or the Community Woodlands Association. It can be done, with lots of hard work!

5. Renting land: Find a friendly landowner. Landowners may often get bad press, but you may be surprised by how many of them want to use their land for social benefit. Many are keen to get people back on their land and to feel that they are sharing what they have. We have been approached by many landowners who are interested in having a hut site on their land, and we are exploring the idea of a database of these opportunities. They all have different motivations – and though they often need to keep their business financially viable, many would like to see their land being used in a way that would increase the wellbeing of people in their area. It’s well worth approaching a landowner to see what they would think of the possibility of a hut site on their land. If an affordable ground rent is set, with good conditions, as per the Voluntary Code of Conduct between Hutters and Landlords (soon to be published), renting ground from a supportive landlord could be an achievable way of accessing land.

6. Affordable building: Two out of Three It’s a great truism of building that you can only have two of the three qualities (quick, cheap and good) that you may wish from your build. So you could spend a lot of money on labour and materials and end up with a quick and good building, but it won’t be cheap. You could spend lots of time sourcing reclaimed materials and working on your build yourself, and you may end up with a good building, but it won’t be quick. Or you can build quickly and cheaply, but perhaps not end up with the best quality! A cheap building is possible, but it will cost you time.

7. Affordable building: Keep it basic! Of course you can also build something affordable by aiming for something very small and simple, using reclaimed materials.

8. Sharing your hut. A really great way to keep hutting affordable would be for groups of friends to share a hut. That way the costs of the build and ground rent can be spread much further. If anyone is already doing this, or working on it as a possibility, we’d love to hear from you.

9. Subsidise an affordable hut on your site. If you are already part of a group running a hut site, perhaps your group might consider making a hut available at a subsidised rate to people who could not otherwise afford it. Or possibly making a partnership with a community organisation who might be able to give access to the hut for people they work with.

10. Keep working towards affordable, inclusive hutting indefinitely!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ten ways to keep hutting affordable for all: it’s possible but it needs us all to make the effort…

Hutters’ Rally: Hear all about it on BBC Scotland Out of Doors

BBC Scotland Out of Doors Team with Californian small build guru Lloyd Kahn. Photo: BBC Scotland Out of Doors

BBC Scotland Out of Doors Team with Californian small build guru Lloyd Kahn. Photo: BBC Scotland Out of Doors

This week’s Hutters’ Rally was a fantastic coming together of hut enthusiasts for site-visits, workshops and action planning. It co-incided with the visit to Scotland of Californian small build guru, Lloyd Kahn.

The BBC Radio Scotland Out of Doors team are all keen hut enthusiasts and they’ve made  a programme about all aspects of hutting; the joys, the dreams and the practicalities – but also the challenges – affordability and sustainability.

Tune in now or listen again here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hutters’ Rally: Hear all about it on BBC Scotland Out of Doors