- The quarter of the houses in the Transition Homes development on the Dartington Estate that are to be self-built get underway. Seven families from the Dartington housing list come forward, and receive a low, but manageable, income during the 14 months when they are trained in construction and learn how to build their own houses. While most use timber frame, two families build in cob. Jennifer Dade, a single mother who is part of the scheme, tells the Totnes Times, “This really is a dream come true. I am actually building a house for my family. The training has been fantastic, and we have built such a strong community, long before we actually will be living together! I don’t think I have ever seen my kids happier than when they were clay plastering the house last weekend”
- The rest of the houses are manufactured off-site. Based at Greyfields Timber Yard at Dartington, another new business ‘South Hams Eco-Prefab’starts up in partnership with the Totnes Sustainable Construction Company, specialising in off-site construction. Their straw-bale panels, in effect a pre-tensioned straw-bale wall, with its lime render base coat already in place , rapidly becomes one of their best-selling products. Their straw-bale kit homes also sell very well, and within 12 months they have a waiting list. This success inspires other local entrepreneurs to start similar business ventures
- New planning applications to SHDC reflect the concern about a hotter, wetter climate, with proposed buildings incorporating features such as external shading, high-capacity guttering, shutters for heat retention and cooling in the summer
- Dave Hampton, a 21 year-old former KEVICC student, buys the rights to extract from a rich clay seam near Rattery, and sets up the Clay Plaster Company with a small business loan from the Totnes Pound Community Start-up Fund, run from a workshop within the first phase of ATMOS. He makes easy-to-use clay plasters and offers training in their use. His first six months of trading are brisk, and by the end of the year he has expanded into making cob bricks as well
- The South Devon Hemp Farmers Co-operative harvests their first crop of hemp. It proves a sharp learning curve, but they are pleased with the first year’s harvest, which is to be used the following year to retrofit Totnes Museum
- Greyfield Sawmill, on the Dartington Estate, who in 2009 built Devon’s largest straw-bale structure, loses its position to the Dartington Fungus Factory, a climate-controlled building set up to grow a variety of mushrooms for medicinal uses, to be both sold as gourmet foods, as well as being processed into health tinctures . A huge work party from the town raises the building’s walls in three days
- Suppliers’ yards for used and recycled building materials open up around the area, many re-using empty farm buildings. The ‘Builders Barns’ open up employment opportunities and interest in building crafts
Policy Makers & Service Providers
- Emboldened by the success of the first phase of ATMOS, SHDC grant planning permission for Phase 2 which features live-work units and some retail and light-industrial units
- SHDC announce that from March 1st, all lights and non-essential appliances in its buildings will be switched off at night. They also announce sweeping energy conservation measures across the authority, and the building of 12 timber framed straw-bale houses in an under-utilised part of their car park, to provide overnight accommodation for staff who live far from Totnes to reduce the amount of travelling they have to do
- SHDC publishes its ‘Low Impact Development in the South Hams’ report, which sets out criteria by which such development would be allowed. In its opening preamble, it states that the sharply rising price of oil, and the grave impacts this is having on local farmers’ ability to continue to farm, means that innovative measures need to be taken in terms of providing reliable and committed extra labour . With a significant movement from the cities of people needing to be gainfully employed , the Council promotes small clusters of energy-efficient houses, built with local and recycled materials, with certain restrictions and caveats, as a way of enabling this
- Insulation made from recycled plastic fleece is free by SHDC as part of their local energy efficiency scheme
- SHDC commence the review of its Development Plan and agree to start from scratch as “the entire nature of building as we knew it 10 years ago has turned upside down”. They open consultation on their next 10-year plan and are astonished by the active interest and informed nature of the initial response that is for minimal new development. They discover widespread interest in making good use of the existing building stock, and that people are generally more content with smaller living space and enthusiastic about maintaining open space for growing food. They decide to look at the possibility of fitting taller buildings into the landscape to minimise the area of land used, and to review options for linking semi-detached buildings into small terraces, adjoined by first- floor flats. SHDC also receive many requests for co-housing and other communal living arrangements, which can be accommodated in existing buildings. With the trend towards a generally older population, they investigate innovative living arrangements working elsewhere which have a good age mix.
Leave a comment
If you wish to comment on a particular paragraph
and quote the relevant number in your comment.