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 how an attractive, low impact hut development can benefit the community. A perfect site has been identified near Saline in Fife, events have been held within the community to see how people would feel about it, and we’re meeting with planners next week to discuss proposals and if all goes according to plan the hut sites will be allocated in Spring 2016. We will keep you informed of the progress in the meantime.

Supporting other possible hut site opportunities. In April, a very popular event was held at Falkland called Creating Hut sites for the 21st Century’. The event focused on a goal of making hut sites beautiful, affordable and sustainable. Workshops included hut design, site design, planning and the relationship between landowners and hutters. There was also a site visit to see existing huts and a proposed new hut site. Attendees included a number of people who had access to land and who would like to set up a hut site. With a bit of support, we would expect to see many new hut sites opening up over the next few years.

Creating guidance for those planning new hut site developments. A significant part of our work in the last 18 months has been working to create a thorough, helpful body of guidance for people planning hut developments, whether they be planners or potential applicants. We have collated the input of our amazing voluntary team of planning advisors, plus constructive feedback from those at all levels of the planning process. We have attempted to create a document which encapsulates the essence and ethos of hut developments as simple, low impact buildings made from natural or reclaimed materials. When this document is completed (as it very nearly is!) we will host a series of events for planners to raise awareness of this resource and the possibilities within the new policy.

These are just a few fragments of our work – there are a lot of other developments and ideas from the future. Keep up to date with our work through our e-bulletin, our Facebook page or our Twitter account @thousandhuts.



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