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]

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[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

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