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.”

Since its formation by Reforesting Scotland members three years ago, A Thousand Huts has seen a rapid rise in interest from people of all walks of life. Among its supporters are the broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and the land rights activists and authors Andy Wightman and Alastair McIntosh.

Lesley Riddoch commented: “The way many North Europeans spend weekends is in a wee modest, wooden hut in the country. It’s time for Scots to join them. Having a hut lowers blood pressure, gives a reason to leave the office (early), lets family members bond and gives work a whole new meaning. Do we live to work or work to live? Having a hut makes that answer easy.”

As well as liaising closely with the Scottish Government on making provision for huts in the new SPP, Reforesting Scotland is currently working with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) on a pilot project that will potentially see the creation of ten huts on FCS land in Fife, giving ordinary Scottish families access to a back-to-nature retreat in a woodland setting.

Details of the pilot, as well as plans for establishing a Hutters’ Federation, will be discussed by delegates at our Hutters’ Rally in Glasgow on 12 July.

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