HOW TO DEVELOP A HUT SITE
There are two perspectives on starting a hut site - the owner’s and the hutters’. Ideally there would be a collaboration between the two.
The model of traditional hut sites in Scotland - such as that at Carbeth, and other remnant sites from wave of hut sites that proliferated between the 1920s and the 1950s - is that an individual, family or group paid ground rent to have a hut on a piece of land. Those sites varied broadly in size. The new hut sites forming in Scotland are tending to follow a similar model, whereby a group of hutters, organised into a hutting group, rent land for their huts.
Of course, in the new wave of hutting, undoubtedly new models of hut use and hut site management will evolve. The 1000 Huts campaign aims to help support a hutting movement which is based on low impact development, low carbon solutions for construction and use, and community-spirited and co-operative ways of working towards ecological sustainability.
OWNER-LED HUT SITE DEVELOPMENT
The most straightforward scenario is when the owner takes the risks and stays closely involved with how the site develops. This is the case with The Encampment in South Lanarkshire and Old Torr Farm in Wigtownshire.
In the case of owner-led developments, the owner will:
carefully think about the pros and cons of getting into hutting
select an attractive area of ground with low productive value
design the hut site- where the huts and parking will go
apply for planning permission, possibly with the help of an advisor
promote and identify prospective hutters. They may be friends and family or strangers contacted through the Thousand Huts campaign or by other means
There is another choice to make here. Will the owner deal with individual hutters, drawing up an individual lease, collecting the annual rent and dealing with issues as they arise? Or will the owner prefer to deal with the representatives of a collective group of hutters, with the hutters themselves responsible for collecting the rent and dealing with most issues?
Forestry and Land Scotland at the Carnock Woods Pilot Study hut site is requiring that such a group is formed, in this case a Company Limited by Guarantee. This is normal practice for groups buying or renting National Forest Estate land.
Say the owner decides to deal with each hutter individually, then the owner & hutter will:
draw up a lease which both are happy with, based on the Thousand Huts Voluntary Code of Conduct
modify the design of the hut with input from the hutter through a letter and sketch to the Planning Authority. Changes are not guaranteed to be approved.
agree the actual footprint of the hut
agree when rent should start to be paid
The hutter may be an individual or represent a couple, family or small group of friends. In most cases the hutter, and the family or group they represent, will build their hut themselves, with or without professional help. There may be situations where the owner wishes to provide the huts and charge a higher annual ground rent.
The huts get built and start being used, the rent gets paid and the owner and hutters develop a harmonious relationship to everyone’s benefit. We hope.
HUTTER-LED HUT SITE DEVELOPMENT
HUTTER-LED HUT SITE DEVELOPMENT
If you are an aspiring hutter without any land, then you have a bit of work to do to get your hut. If you have the means, you could buy some land. There are woodlands for sale on several websites. The smaller the wood and the more attractive it is, the higher the cost per hectare it will be.
So, you might decide to club together with several other aspiring hutters or woodland owners and buy a woodland together. You will need to ensure that your aims, visions and location are compatible with each other before you sign the big cheque. Then you can go ahead with design, planning permission, Code of Conduct and build.
If you don’t want to or, more likely, can’t afford to buy land or your search doesn’t come up with the right site, then you can consider renting some land from a sympathetic owner. The next big decision is whether to go it alone or with others.
In the case of the Pilot Study on the National Forest Estate, the Thousand Huts campaign selected 12 individuals/ families to form the Carnock Hutters’ Group
On the other hand, you can approach an owner with a request for an individual hut site. You can use your Right of Access to explore the countryside in your search area (good fun anyway!) and identify possible sites. Then take your courage in both hands and speak to the owner by just turning up at their door. 9 times out of 10 you will be turned down but you might be lucky and can get into a discussion with the owner. You will need to offer to get planning permission, to build and maintain your hut, to pay an agreed annual rent and to have a simple lease, based on the Voluntary Agreement. The owner may want to put in some clauses about what you can and can’t do. Once all is agreed, you will be able to build and use your hut according to the Scottish Government definition of a hut.
What are the pros and cons of developing a hut site with a group of people rather than on your own?
Whether on your own or with others, on your own land or someone else’s, there are routes to building and owning your own hut with all the joy which that brings.
Parallel models for hutting were explored in the feasibility study for huts on the National Forest Estate.