On 18th November over 225 people gathered for a sell-out Hutters’ Rally in Edinburgh. This was the biggest Rally yet – and attracted many new participants we hadn’t seen at previous gatherings. One of the highlights of the day was the launch of the Register of Interest for the new hut site at Carnock, Fife.
The sense of momentum at this crucial point in the development of the new Hutting Movement was palpable. Around a third of the attendees were people who had access to land and wanted to start a hut site. Another third were potential hutters who want to start a hut site and do not yet have access to land. The remaining people are folk who would like a hut of their own – either alone, or joining in another site. So one of the most pressing needs coming from this gathering of people was to unite the people with access to land, with those who don’t have land, and also to connect people who would like to form a hutters group in a particular area. The campaign has some serious matchmaking to do!
The day started out with a series of presentations: this was the opportunity for the attendees to get the latest updates from the campaign: the policies, the regulations and the tools. Then there was the moment that everyone had been waiting for: the launch of the Register of Interest for the new hutting pilot site at Carnock. Planning consultant Richard Heggie presented the latest information about experiences of planning applications with different Local Authorities. There was also an update from Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland who explained how the tiny homes movement differs from, and relates to, the hutting movement. The presentations finished off with a lovely talk from Simon Raeside who is part of the group forming a hutting site at Falkland. He talked frankly about the challenges to progress a hut site, but how important it was for himself and his family that they have this opportunity in their lives.
The afternoon had a wide range of focus groups on issues including construction, off-grid living, planning and access to land. The hall rang with a buzz of enthusiastic conversations on all things hutting.
Some of the key things that people reported from these sessions were:
- The benefit of meeting like-minded people, not feeling ‘alone’ in our ambitions
- A realisation of momentum and progress in the campaign
- The availability of specific advice on planning permissions
- We need a place where ‘silly’ questions could be asked
- The Hutting Blog can be a place to pick up tips, share experiences. Barriers overcome by some can inspire others.
People also appreciated learning about land sharing options, including:
- The need to get would-be hutters and landowners together
- Good ideas to attract a landowner to sell land
- Using NFU database to research potential hutting-friendly landowners
- SAC (SRUC) Farming research sites could be approached
- Creative thinking about affordable purchases
At the end of the day attendees made pledges for the year to come:
- 20% pledged to have spent a night in a hut
- 30% will have won over an existing landowner
- 50-60% will have a hut design in mind
- 30% will be on the way to building a hut
- 60% expect to have new skills to build a hut