Planning Appeal Success for Sustainable Community

Permaculture magazine
Friday, 1st July 2016

Community group, Rhiw Las, have won their planning appeal to build four low-impact smallholdings, where they will grow their own food, create their own energy, and develop their own ecological businesses. It is all part of Wales' 'One Planet Development' project.

A 'one planet' development for four families in Carmarthenshire has been granted (29 June 2016) planning permission upon appeal. Carmarthenshire Council was ruled to have "acted unreasonably in refusing planning permission", and been ordered to pay the families' appeal costs.

The development is called Rhiw Las, a group of four low-impact smallholdings in Carmarthenshire between Llanboidy and Whitland. It had originally sought planning permission in November 2014 under the 'One Planet Development planning principle. This was refused by Carmarthenshire Council’s Planning Committee – against the planning officer’s recommendation of approval.

That decision has now been overturned at appeal and planning permission has been granted for the development to go ahead.

The Inspector said: "Some parties have questioned the ability of a land area of around 21.5 acres to support and meet the essential needs of four households and the associated land based activities from which income would be derived. However, land-based OPD is very different to a typical modern lifestyle or standard agricultural practice. I am satisfied that the initial five year management plan satisfies the requirements of land based OPD in the countryside and is supported by robust financial appraisals of projected income and expenditure."

The four families – which include six children – can now build their homes and live on the land. These will be four modest ecologically sustainable houses that will be 'zero carbon' in construction and use.

Erica Thompson, one of the applicants, said: "We are absolutely delighted at the decision. Our lives have been on hold for the last year. We always knew we had a good case, and that the refusal was unfair. The project has a huge amount of local support. Now we have been vindicated and we can get on with building our dream."

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The families' dream involves running sustainable land-based small businesses, such as a vegetable box scheme, selling their orchard produce, beekeeping, a micro-dairy, making traditional Celtic instruments and hosting Forest School sessions.

They will have to grow a sizeable proportion of their own food on site, install renewable energy supplies and manage their woodland sustainably to supply firewood and construction timber.

Perhaps the most challenging part of satisfying the planning rules will be to reduce their consumption – measured by an online 'ecological footprint calculator' anyone can use, that was developed for the Welsh government – to less than “One Planet”. This in line with Wales’ ambition to become a One Planet Nation within a generation.

One Planet Development is a forward-thinking Welsh planning policy that provides a genuinely affordable and sustainable way for families to set up life and work in rural areas. Buildings must be made from local, natural materials and be ‘zero carbon’ in construction and use. Households must produce some of their own food and all of their own energy needs, and must establish land-based businesses.

One Planet Development is measured by Ecological Footprinting and monitored by annual reports that also include biodiversity and community impacts. Rhiw Las is the second 'one planet' development to be granted planning permission in Carmarthenshire.

For information visit the One Planet Council website: www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk

Further resources

Don't let the planners get you down

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