Eco-smallholdings in Devon

The Ecological Land Co-operative has been granted planning permission to develop three affordable residential smallholdings for new entrants to ecological agriculture. Their applications, made in December 2011 were recommended for approval by Mid Devon District Council’s planning department but refused by District Councillors in June 2012.

The Inspector, at appeal, did not agree with the Councillors that there was no ‘essential need’ to live on the land. The Council’s position at the inquiry was that the co-op were taking a ‘hair shirt’ approach to the management of the smallholdings; if they employed less labour-intensive methods of land management no one would need to live on-site. Expert witnesses at the appeal included the ORC’s Roger Hitchings, who provided evidence on the suitability of the site for the proposed businesses.

The Inspector concluded that the Council had failed to have regard for their ‘aims of addressing the need to reduce the negative impacts of conventional farming and globalised food distribution’. Inspector Graham continued: “I accept that the labour-intensive nature of such practices, necessary to ensure that a sustainable livelihood could be developed without resort to agro-chemicals and the reliance on fossil fuels, would require the worker’s presence and involvement to such an extent that the need could only be met by living on site”. The Inspector’s decision also indicated that she valued both the co-operative model developed and the monitoring of, amongst other things, changes in biodiversity and productivity, which will be delivered alongside the smallholdings. Concluding the decision she wrote that these “other material considerations weigh heavily in favour of granting planning permission”.

The Ecological Land Co-op is selling two holdings at Greenham Reach, Holcombe Rogus in Devon. They are 6.87 acres and 8.45 acres. They will be selling the holdings with permission to build a low impact dwelling, shared lane access, shared barn, PV solar array, potable water supply and on-site biological grey water treatment. The price is £72,000. Find out more

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