The Land Winter 2011-12: – – Post Two

The chapter 7 article on page 61 of the winter 2011-12 issue of The Land gives a clear, if pessimistic, outline of the government’s new planning policy. [ the NPPF] This policy sweeps away many of the current regulations and replaces it with a ‘developers charter’ of presumption in favour of development.

Local authorities are left the define their own policies in areas previously subject to central guidelines. The authors of the article doubt that local authorities will do anything very different from the current guidelines and offer little hope for those who seek low impact development in the countryside.

There is however one ray of hope at the end. ‘Self build’ affordable homes are mentioned for the first time in national policy. Shropshire already has such a policy and The Land suggests reference to this could possibly be a more hopeful way to approach the planning office than a ‘fully fledged’ low impact proposal.

Links: I have downloaded this and will be studying it to see if we can use anything in it.

More on the NPPF

The Land is published by ‘The Land is ours‘ If you don’t already subscribe to The Land. Click HERE to subscribe now.


Posted in Discussion, Planning issues | Leave a comment

The Land Winter 2011-12: — Post One

I have just received my winter 2011/12 copy of The Land and the team have really excelled themselves in this issue.

The main focus of the issue is the future of our forests with strong articles in favour of keeping them in public ownership and at the same time increasing their utility for local communities using permaculture principles.

There are no less than 15 well reserached articles on forest matters who are not all in agreement with one another. Authors include Simon Fairlie who writes on what he calls ‘tree fetishism’ opposes turning good arable land, hay meadows and pasture into woodland and charcoal burner Gill Barron who explores the myth around Biochar as a panacea for global warming.

Other topics discussed are GM crops, the arguements are not as simple as the once seemed, George Monbiot’s conversion to nuclear power and new developments on the planning front (chapter 7 etc). Key news articles can be read on The Land website.

The Land is published by ‘The Land is ours‘ If you don’t already subscribe to The Land. Click HERE to subscribe now.

Richard Jannaway

Posted in Discussion, Planning issues, Wider community | Leave a comment

Fixing carbon in the soil

One of the key points presented in my recent ‘Farm Scale Permaculture Training’ Otherwise known as ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ was the degree with which global warming can be combated by increasing the depth of topsoil. Here is a very clearly written article on the subject.

Here is an emotive poem from the post. The rest is really serious, but accescible, science.

We once farmed Fields of Eden, we grew our food with style
It’s time to stop, and look, and listen for a while
Earth lying naked and barren
Crying for help without words
Calling so softly for carbon
There is no time now to bargain

Our soils were rich in carbon, life’s treasures flourished there
Then soil health we neglected: earth’s carbon moved to air
Everywhere climates are changing
The future’s becoming unclear
Warming us slowly with carbon
There is no time now to bargain

The course I attended was run by

I will be posting more items from this course which has added a whole new dimension to my understanding of farming and growing.


Posted in Discussion | Leave a comment

Back to the Drawing Board

Or perhaps it should be ‘back to the estate agents’ as our attempt to purchase the property near Hartland, Cheristow Farmhouse, has not succeeded. It has been sold to another purchaser who was prepared to offer more than our budget would allow.

We need to clarify what we are looking for and build a stronger group which can move quickly when a suitable property comes on the market.

As far as location is concerned, we remain flexible but consider being near a viable community like Hartland to be important.

The other property we had on our list, Knowle Farm (North Cornwall), has its own problems. It is difficult with regard to planning and there is no viable village nearby. However, it has some great woodland and very attractive sheltered land. To make it possible, we need a good number of dedicated and hard working people to develop a plan acceptable to the planning authority and build the community. Substantially more capital than we have at the moment is also required.

There are other properties coming onto the market almost daily and we are continuing the search. We are now considering our next steps.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sustainable rural development IS possible!

The parish of High Bickington in the Torridge district of North Devon has succeeded in its application for an exciting rural development. See for details

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Property search continues

March 2011

We have recently viewed two properties in the North West Devon/North Cornwall area. Although both are very different they are distinct possibilities. One property is near Bude and the other near Hartland.

If  you live or want to live in that area and you feel that Prospect might be what you are looking for, please contact us for further details.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community Update

The group has been in existence since Summer 2009 during which time we have met a wide variety of lovely and interesting people and nearly bought a property – twice. Several people have since left the group for personal reasons and we have now revised our plans and are looking for new members.

We have reconsidered the kind of community we want, the area where we want to live and the kind of property we want to buy, what type, how big and for how many people.

For an idea of our current thinking please visit “The Prospect Community” page

We have learned a lot about forming and running groups over the last 18 months. It is now time to put this learning into practice with a clearer focus on the land than we had previously.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Straw Clay


Sat and Sun 2 & 3 October

Straw clay is an innovative building method which combines the best of cob with the best of straw bale. It is done by building a timber frame and then infilling the walls with straw dipped in clay slip. The straw provides insulation, while the clay gives thermal mass to the building – so that it retains the heat of the sun or a woodburner and then radiates that heat slowly. Another benefit is that walls can be much thinner than straw bale or cob, plus it is very low-tech and uses largely cheap/free sustainable materials.

On this workshop you will learn

– the two types of timber frame design

– how to make clay slip from earth

– how to make straw clay

– how to build with it

– information about finishing internally and externally

Cost: £20

There is only space for four people on the workshop so book early! There may also be the possibility of volunteering on the project at other times between now and mid October.

For more information or to book please call Sapphire on 862628 or email

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Lancaster co-housing prices

Lancaster are an urban co housing project. It’s great to see them getting there at last.

I am posting these – for comparison with our project. Sometimes we seem to think the costs we talkabout are a bit OTT – these show that they aren’t.

Posted in Background information | Leave a comment

The Root of our Problem

As can be seen from my last post the planning system lies at the root of our problem. It is no accident that it is very difficult to find a place where we can share a reasonable amount of space in the countryside for a sensible amount of money.

Simon Fairlie writing on the ‘Land is Ours” website expresses the problem very clearly with a quote from a member of the Sailsbury planning committee.

When Jill Delaney applied for permission to put up a shed for her free range chickens three years ago, she was rudely rebuffed. “We must put a stop to these quasi-agricultural activities which are springing up all over the country,” said Salisbury planning committee member, David Parker, who later went on to explain; ‘What I mean by quasi-agricultural is a mess of peasant farming which prevents the Common Agricultural Policy from working efficiently in Europe’.

One might be forgiven for assuming that, in a democratic Britain, every farmer – big or small, peasant or patrician – had an equal right to build a chicken house. Not so. The right to put up any agricultural building is a question of wealth; it is unconditionally available only to those who own 12 acres or more, a sizeable holding by the standards of most European countries.

A similar hurdle stands in the way of those who may have, say, 15 or 30 acres, and who, like any farmer, want to live on their property. To obtain permission to move onto their holding, be it in a newly built house, a converted out-building, a caravan or a tent, they must first prove that, by the standards of the Ministry of Agriculture, they are ‘viable’ – three acres and a cow is not enough, nowadays you need over 50 dairy cows or 160 beef cattle. For many smallholders, accustomed to, or intent upon living partly off their own produce, this level of production is as unnecessary as it is unattainable.

Do we really need to shepherd all but an elite into suburban estates so that they may amble round a spotlessly managed country park on Sundays?

Zoning out the Peasants: Simon Fairlie

The same site has a series of essays on the topic and explaining exactly why the problem exists. The question now is how do we in Prospect get around the problem:

  • Do we have to move abroad to find somewhere we can legally live on the land?
  • Do we have to mortgage ourselves up to the hilt on one of the few places around which do have residential permissions?
  • Do we have to resord to surripticious means – hiding in the woods – to get what we want?

Comments and thoughts please. Either here or on my Facebook Page.

The Land is ours is the home of The Land magazine- a key forum and resource.


Posted in Discussion, Planning issues | Leave a comment