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The need for OPD Ecovillages in Wales

There's a lot of talk right now about people trying to put a stop to the 'One Planet Development' Planning Policy. This is really a big step in the wrong direction for any local authorities who attempt such actions.

As a Country we are looking to reduce our Carbon footprint and to become more sustainable. Food shortages appear to be upon us, and there are many young people interested in farming that can neither afford to buy a farm or to afford to own their own home.

At HEAMES Architectural Design & Planning Consultants we believe Vegan 'Stock Free' OPD Ecovillages and smaller One Planet Developments are the key to solving all of these problems.

Our mission as a company:-

  • To promote Vegan 'Stock Free' farming.

  • To protect rare vegetable seed varieties. Each proposed Zero Waste Vegan Ecovillage to take part in a Seed Cooperative.

  • To protect rare Welsh (food producing) trees & plants via rewilding / agroforestry.

  • To assist this Country towards creating more local organic food production. Forming the opportunity for many (mainly younger) want to be farmers to own their own small section of agricultural land.

  • To assist this Country in meeting its Carbon goals.

  • To provide an opportunity for some to build and own their own Ecohouse without the need for a mortgage.

A few comments and concerns regarding OPD, and what we feel is important:-

  • People have raised concerns about Small Scale Organic Farming plots becoming like allotments, full of trash. And there was a recent news article regarding an Existing single plot OPD using a junk car as a vegetable or herb planter. This would be an abuse of the countryside. The countryside should be protected from ridiculous uses of waste items and as a company we are ensuring that maintaining a certain standard of beauty is our highest priority. OPDs need to be respectful of the setting that they are being given approval to reside (whilst working the land to provide local produce). - No storage of junk materials or broken down vehicles on plots. We are adding Restrictive Covenants to the land restricting use. - Restrictions on what can be used for boundaries (dry stone walls, hazel hurdle fencing, or edible hedging plants) to maintain consistency and beauty. - Existing mature trees to be protected. At our Pontypridd Farm we have hundreds of mature oak trees, a few maple and some Beech trees that appear to be hundreds of years old. We are adding protection to these through our project documents, by removing the ability to cut any of these down. And we will be looking to apply for a protective status to be applied to these trees at our site. - OPDs should look to build dwellings which blend well with the surroundings. I have often referred to the historic houses at St Fagans. A modern Strawbale house could have a similar historic rendered appearance, and may even provide you with the opportunity to 'Grow your own Home'.

  • People have raised concerns about Plot Sales and what happens to profits from these sales:- Profits from plot sales currently go to HEAMES Architectural Design & Planning Consultants, with full control over how this is money spent and whether or not it is allocated towards a project. There is a tax element that will be involved for making a profit from splitting land but as I mentioned to others already, I could buy a Ferrari tomorrow, but I won’t. This would be what I call chasing short term happiness. It would bring short term happiness for 2 weeks to 6 months, until you're bored of it and then go looking for the next short term happiness materialistic item to buy. True happiness comes from helping others. That’s why we have set the plot prices for our projects as low as possible so that all taking part in the project can financially benefit no matter what the outcome of the project. And any remaining profits from The Edible Forest project we have already stated that we will be allocating towards buying things for the community to either make it more beautiful or to increase its chances of success. Lets take a look at The Edible Forest's estimated costs:- Purchase Costs = £572,000.00 (land, solicitors, land surveyors, tax) Project Setup Costs = £295,429.00 (security, transport, shared business facilities, shared tools & equipment, safety requirements, plants & trees for the community nursery). And the biggest trap any dark money grabbing minded people fall into when looking at this project is that they fail to realise that we will be having a 30-35 acre shared community business space. Now this itself will not provide any income from investors. This project requires further funding to establish the 2 historic looking stone barns we would like seek permission to build. These will have historic Welsh thatch roofs and the proposed use will be for seed processing / drying / storage. If approved, these will have to meet the criteria for 'Zero Carbon Buildings'. We will be sourcing the materials on site or locally within a 60 mile radius. At the moment the profits from plot sales isn’t enough to cover the project setup. And any future project will likely be financed by young people wanting a way to get into farming. This is the only way that they can afford to do it.

Updates on our current projects:-

  1. THE EDIBLE FOREST - Land purchase has progressed and we are now looking at expanding the site. If we expand there will be room for 10 more families / couples / individuals to take part in the proposed project.

  2. Proposed Project 2 in Pembrokeshire - our offer on the land was not accepted. Currently we have no intentions of making a higher offer. The search for a suitable site of 100+ acres of low quality land continues.

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