As part of our series of case studies of new hut sites, Louise Witter offers an insight into how she went about setting up Scotland’s newest hutting community, The Encampment in South Lanarkshire.
There have been some naïve days where I thought this was going to be straightforward and others where I have felt more overwhelmed than I did on my first visit.
There are organizations to deal with that I had never even heard of and processes that just take time. And, of course, more money. Someone recently suggested that I was currently at the part in the TV programme Grand Designs immediately before the second ad break.
And I’ve gone from being ‘I’ to a small team of ‘we’ with a planning consultant, agricultural contractor and archaeologist on board.
The local planning department has a progressive approach to hutting sites. However, there was almost a year of engagement before planning would accept an application. There are no obvious showstoppers, but every comment needs to be addressed before the application is granted.
I have always seen the Roman monument as a feature but it has added an element of complexity to The Encampment.
Historic Environment Scotland have also had a positive and helpful approach to establishing a hutting site however there were forms, surveys and reports that I was completely unprepared for.
So, I have learned a new skill from hutting already. Patience.
And for those of you who don’t know, just after the second ad break everything slots into place and Kevin declares it all a tremendous success!
While the paperwork progressed, I decided to get to know the site better and resolved to get to know some people as well. This does not come easy to a lone worker and Aberdonian.
I would like the hutting community at The Encampment to give something back to the local area by providing resources to local groups. So off I went to find some groups.
One of the first local groups I met was the wonderful Clydesdale Community Initiatives. Not only are they a way we can access local community projects but they have also used the site for outdoor placements.
This relationship has also introduced volunteers to the project who have brought specialist knowledge, for example on badgers, and have helped to install wildlife cameras.
I am slowly introducing myself to my new neighbours and the local area. I confess to having spent much of last Christmas sticking coloured sequins on a large map of the area to mark the local amenities and attractions.
The project has also attracted some media attention with welcome mention in an article in The Scotsman and interest from a TV production company.
How to get involved
There are 14 hut sites available for lease and there is already keen interest from some potential hutters.
I would like to speak to more people who are serious about leasing a plot, building a hut and getting involved. The plots will not be around for long and it is a great opportunity to get involved in establishing a new community and to implement your ideas.
I would also like to engage further with charity or educational groups who want to get involved with the projects on site. I particularly want to hear from groups who want to use the free hut for the benefit of their members.
The Encampment has been an extremely interesting project so far and it has taught me a great deal about planning processes and the hutting community, as well as about myself. I hope to learn more from the future development – and I can’t wait to see the first huts being built.