The past few weeks has been a busy time for Transition Homes. On June 15th the project was introduced to local people at an open event in Dartington Village Hall. This was a chance for people to find out what is being proposed and voice their opinions. Immediate neighbours of the site, particularly those in Clay Lane, were able to discuss their concerns and potential residents talk about what they would like from the site. As soon as the site was purchased immediate neighbours were visited and informed about the project. The aim was to establish good communication from the very start so we had a clear idea of any concerns people had and what we could do to minimise any negative impact. So discussions at the event were friendly and productive. From potential residents there was great enthusiasm. One person commented: “We have been waiting for this kind of development for years! So many people are choosing this way of living. It needs to be done.”
The following week saw a meeting on site with Richard Boyt, the planning officer from South Hams District Council and Richard Jackson from Devon Highways. After a lot of debate and detailed studies of the A385 adjacent to the site it is now accepted that a safe access is possible. An important step forward.
Early July saw a site visit by Patrick Whitefield to assess the options for developing the whole site along permaculture principles. Patrick is the UK’s foremost permaculture designer and the author of ‘The Earth Care Manual’.
This was followed by a visit from Jay Abrams, a permaculture designer who specialises in water systems – take a look at www.biologicdesign.co.uk for examples of the beautiful and productive wet systems that Jay designs. Holes dug to assess the soil types around the site revealed some good and some bad news. The clay in Clay Park may be useful for plastering but isn’t good enough for lining ponds while shillet stone below the clay is a great material for paths and tracks on site. You can view a short film of the activities here.
On the same day we had a visit from eight Belgians looking at cohousing and community land trust developments in the UK to see what lessons they could take home. So Transition Homes is already attracting international attention.
What else? Meetings with the architect, the initial ecology survey is completed, discussions with South Hams officers about the allocations policy, numerous meetings of the design, communications, allocations and finance groups and lots, lots more – a heavy workload for volunteers with working lives to fit in as well!
And...£30,000 has just arrived as the first instalment of a loan from Venturesome CAF so now we can really get started with preparing the planning application.
For further details or to contact Transition Homes take a look at www.transitionhomes.org.uk