This is my hut site on The Solway. It's on a farm called Torr which I own jointly with my brother. The white dot is the car park beside my house. The blue dot is the one remaining hut of 5 that were here in the 50s. The red dots are the 6 new huts.
This is the story of the development of this site which, for me, moved from the realms of dreams and into reality after I attended the Hutters Rally in Kirkcaldy in 2016. I'll try to be brief but there's quite a lot to tell.
After the Rally I spoke to the remaining hutters who were supportive, I visited a hut site nearby at Palnackie and did lots of homework.
In early 2017 I contacted Catherine, a planning adviser, to help me with the next step which was how exactly to approach the planners. She assured me that no Environmental Impact Assesment would be needed as although the site was over 2ha (It's 34ha) 5 or 6 huts added together wouldn't cover anything like that area. She also said that once upon a time you could phone the planners and just have a chat but that now, with shortage of staff and time they prefered e-mails and took ages to reply. However it was just my luck that in a couple of weeks Karen Grant was going to be speaking at the Dumfries branch of The Town Planning Institute and that Catherine was going and would speak to the planners there. She was able to flag up to them that someone was interested and found them to be fairly positive. She recomended that I wait utill January 2018 when the new Local Development Plan for Dumfries and Galloway would be available in draft and hopefully there would be some detail in about huts. Also it would give planners time to get their heads round the new legislation (Also in that time the requirement for building warrant was dropped)
Meanwhile I started gathering potential hutters. We looked at sites for huts(preferaly ones that needed no removal of trees and could be accessed at least with a tractor and trailer). We looked at designs and got the local joiner to talk through what it might cost to build. Towards the end of the year I found someone to do a wildlife survey which had to be done over the full area as final hut sites hadn't been decided on(but was also of interest for getting a baseline of the habitats on that bit of land for future comparison). I told the Community Council about my plans and secured their support. Later I put together a story board about the project which was in the village shop and then in the village hall for a couple of months. In the end, the Local Development Plan didn't have much detail about huts and also the Pre Planning Service, which would have been useful, had been suspended. However, Catherine had another word with the planners and we decided to press on.
Having decided to let the hutters pick their own sites and design their own huts, Catherine had hoped that he planners might accept a general design statement. When it came to the time they said tey wanted more detail of what the huts would look like therefore drawings were going to be required for each hut. The hutters had spent plenty of time thnking and dreaming and by this time had some quite different designs. Marc, the architect also reckoned we would need topographical surveys for each site because of the terrain and lack of datum ponts. I consulted a few people and argued a bit. He was quite insistant but said I could try without if I wated to but in the end I didn't want to risk holding things up. At this point, seeing what it was going to cost, I consulted with the familly thinking we might have to stop and rethink. Fortunately at that point we had some funds available and I got the nod!
In early spring 2018 the hutters all met with the joiner who was building my hut and the architect who from there liased directly with the individual hutters to plot and plan their huts.
The plans were submitted on 5th July 2019 and were returned because the fee was wrong. We were led to believe the fee would be £400 (or therebouts) but because the huts were all fixed down to the ground they were considered "structures" and the fee was in fact to be £2016!
There were no objections from the public and no significant issues from other departments. The Roads Department said that if there had been more than 6 they would have wanted an upgrade of the mile long access track and passing places added. I don't know what quality of upgrade would have been required.Permission was granted on 10th September 2019 with very little in the way of conditions. The application can be viewed on the Dumfries and Galloway Council web site. The code is 18/1031/FUL or type in Torr Auchencairn.
Here are the figures
£700 Planning advisor
£1830 Wildlife survey inc VAT which we claimed back through the business
£2880 Topographical survey inc VAT (reclaimed as above)
£1011 x 6 Plans for planning appication (Architect not VAT registered)
£800 x 5 Detailed plans for building. Only charged for 5 as simpler because of no building warrant requirement
£115 for consultation with engineer over a couple of things
£2016 Planning fee
£300 Solicitor to help draw up lease
Total, not far off £18000
The advisor was essential. I wouldn't have got going without her. The wildlife survey would have been much less if the huts had been clustered together more or I had just had an area around each hut surveyed. Making the huts all the same design or just 2 or 3 designs would have made big savings.Also, not having to fix huts down would save on planning fee(and building costs) Most sites dont need topographical surveys (or at least not 6) but worth bearing in mind. An engineers input can be largely be avoided by keeping it simple and avoiding tricky terrain.
I have posted stuff about toilet elsewhere and will put something up about the cost of building m hut shortly.