Wednesday 29 June 2016
What’s the news?
Rhiw Las is a group of four low-impact smallholdings in Carmarthenshire, a ‘One Planet Development’ (OPD) between Llanboidy and Whitland. Their planning application was submitted in November 2014 and subsequently 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. In addition, the planning inspector agreed that the Council had acted unreasonably in refusing planning permission in the first place, and has ordered that the Council should pay the costs incurred by Rhiw Las in preparing the appeal.
What is One Planet Development?
This forward-thinking Welsh planning policy provides a genuinely affordable and sustainable way for families to set up life and work in rural areas. Under this policy, 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. Further information here: http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk/10goodreasons/
What will the project involve?
The four families involved plan to:
• Develop sustainable land-based small businesses, including a local vegetable box scheme, sale of orchard produce, beekeeping, a micro-dairy, making traditional Celtic instruments and hosting Forest School sessions.
• Build four modest ecologically sustainable houses which will be Zero Carbon in construction and use.
• Meet their “Minimum Needs” (as defined by the One Planet Development policy and guidance) from the land, by growing a proportion of our own food on site, installing renewable electricity generation, and managing woodland sustainably for heating fuel.
• Demonstrate an Ecological Footprint (as defined by the One Planet Development policy) of less than “One Planet”, in line with Wales’ ambition to become a One Planet Nation within a generation.
View the Rhiw Las Management Plan here: https://goo.gl/Cyyw3S
What did the Inspector say?
“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. Whilst there will always be an element of uncertainty inherent in such forecasts, especially where new ways of doing things are being explored, the management plan includes close monitoring requirements and includes exit provisions after five years should the ecological footprint objectives of OPD not be realised.” “I consider that [the council’s] decision to refuse planning permission amounted to unreasonable behaviour, resulting in an appeal which should not have been necessary.”
Appeal Reference: APP/M6825/A/15/3139036
Rhiw Las would like to thank everyone who wrote in support of our application and the appeal, and who provided moral support along this long journey! They would also like to thank Dr Simon Ruston MRTPI and Nick Soucek of Ruston Planning Limited, who put together their appeal documentation and represented them at the hearing, and James Shorten and Bill Knight of Geo Ltd who provided an independent appraisal of their One Planet Development Management Plan. Finally, Rhiw Las would like to thank the community of people who have struggled for Low Impact Development in Wales and further afield, and who helped to bring the One Planet Development policy into existence.
For further information, media requests, etc, email RhiwLas.OPD@gmail.com