Huts in Scotland
Karen Grant, Reforesting Scotland and the Thousand Huts campaign, updates us on new policy, new legislation and a whole new movement of hutters.
Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has come a long way since its launch in 2011. The campaign was founded to remove the barriers to achieving a dream shared by so many: that of having a small, simple hut from which to enjoy the peace and beauty of the natural world. Once barriers in policy and regulations were removed, the campaign aimed to help a new hutting movement to flourish.
As readers will know, huts were included in Scottish Planning Policy in 2014 – and two years later, there followed a public consultation on huts in relation to building regulations. The response was greatly in favour of simplifying the process for huts, ensuring that more of the responsibility is passed to the hutter (rather than Building Control officers).
To do this, the Scottish Government created a new building type, 23A in Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations, which applies to huts. In effect, it exempts huts from many building regulations except for some key areas including structure, stoves, barriers and underground drainage (drainage is one of the aspects which will still require a warrant). While the hut builder will be required by law to comply with the regulations in these non-exempt areas, in most cases they will not be required to get a Building Warrant. Not only will this reduce the burden on hutters, it will also reduce the burden on building standards officers, saving money for local authorities.
Resources to help those wishing to build one or more huts
The Scottish Planning Policy includes encouragement for planning authorities to consider huts for recreational use, and includes a definition of a hut. In support of this policy, Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign has published the guidance paper New hutting developments: Good practice guidance on the planning, development and management of huts and hut sites, which can be used to help applicants or planners considering new hut developments.
To help hut builders navigate the new building type for huts in relation to building regulations, Reforesting Scotland is producing a guide, ‘The Good Practice Guide to Hut Construction‘. One of its writers, Peter Caunt, explains, “It will be the hut owner’s responsibility to ensure they comply with high standards of health and safety, and low environmental impact. Some areas, such as underground drainage, will still require a Building Warrant, whereas in other areas, such as structure, the responsibility is theirs to comply with the relevant regulations. If they don’t comply, they will be liable if something goes wrong.” To make sure you are notified when this guide is ready, join our mailing list at www.thousandhuts.org.
We have also produced a Voluntary Code of Good Practice for Hutters and Landlords to help people develop a fair formal agreement between those who have a hut and those who own the land the hut sits on.
A pilot hut site in Fife
Over the last few years, the campaign has also been working with Forest Enterprise Scotland to develop a pilot hut site on public forest land. After several years of navigating this complex process with the various stakeholders, an application was made to Fife Council Planning Department. In June 2017 the site at Carnock Woods achieved planning permission, and the allocation process has now begun for this site.
The growing hutting movement
During the last few years, the Thousand Huts campaign has flourished into a lively community of hutters, prospective hutters, builders, foresters, planners, artists and dreamers. The enormously successful annual Hutters’ Rally has continued to expand in size – and each year it has sold out. The facebook group has over 5700 members, there are almost 1000 Twitter followers, and an emailing list of 2300. At our recent Hutters’ Rally, planning consultant Richard Heggie presented a map of many hut site planning applications he is involved in – and there are many more. Media coverage has been plentiful, including BBC TV, Radio Scotland, the Times, the Herald and the Scotsman and more. Interest in huts is vast – and is growing stronger. Our challenge now is to support more people to achieve the dream of a simple hut in the woods.
If you would like more information about any aspect of hutting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or join our mailing list at www.thousandhuts.org or join us on Facebook or on Twitter @thousandhutsBACK