Low-impact development (UK)
The interplay between would-be developers and the UK planning authorities since the 1980s has led to a diversity of unique, locally adapted developments, often making use of natural, local and reclaimed materials in delivering highly affordable, low or zero carbon housing. These LIDs often strive to be self-sufficient in terms of waste management, energy, water and other needs.
High-profile UK LID sites include That Roundhouse (Pembrokeshire), the Hockerton Housing Project (Nottinghamshire), Simon Dale's so-called 'hobbit house' (Wales), Steve James's Straw House, Michael Buck's cob house as well as ecovillages such as Findhorn (Scotland), Lammas (Pembrokeshire), Landmatters (Devon) and Tinker's Bubble (Somerset).
Transition Homes, currently under development in Transition Town Totnes, Devon, is an attempt to scale-up and mainstream LID by providing around 25 low cost, low carbon homes designed along permaculture principles. Residents will be allocated from the local housing needs register. Similarly, LILAC is currently building a 'Low Impact Living Affordable Community' of 20 homes and a common house in Bramley, Leeds, which was visited by Kevin McCloud and Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Housing and Local Government.
BedZED (London) is another example of a larger scale LID, which was built in 2000–2002 and has 82 homes, however it is not as affordable as many of the above examples as it was partly designed to attract urban professionals.
- 1 Benefits of Low Impact Development
- 2 UK policy on Low Impact Development
- 3 Barriers to the growth of Low-Impact Development
- 4 Development of the term 'Low-Impact Development'
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Benefits of Low Impact Development
LIDs have innovated and demonstrated sustainable solutions including low/zero carbon housing design, rainwater harvesting, renewable energy generation, waste minimisation and innovative forms of land management, including No/low-till farming, permaculture and agroforestry.
LID has also shown a capacity to enhance local biodiversity and public access to local space, and to produce traffic movements far below the national average. This has been attributed to lift-sharing, to residents' greater use of public transport, walking and cycling and to the integration of local land based employment with other household activities. As the Welsh Assembly Government has noted, such "...Development therefore is not just describing a physical development. It is describing a way of living differently where there is a symbiotic relationship between people and land, making a reduction in environmental impacts possible".
UK policy on Low Impact Development
The extensive research interest in LID, backed up by the practical examples of the existing LIDs, has led to a growing number of planning policies in the UK designed to allow for LIDs. These include the Dartmoor National Park Authority's emerging plan on low impact dwellings in the countryside, the Pembrokeshire Low Impact Development Policy (Policy 52) and the Welsh Assembly Government’s One Planet Development policy which is outlined in Technical Advice Note 6 – Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities.
Barriers to the growth of Low-Impact Development
Over the years, there have been various struggles with planning authorities over LID in the UK. Tony Wrench spent over a decade fighting the planning authorities until he was granted planning permission for That Roundhouse. As Lisa Lewinsohn points out in her MSc thesis on LID, Tony Wrench and his partner Jane Faith have been “enforced against, fined, refused planning permission several times” while Lammas has “probably spent about £50,000 on the application process.” Similarly, since 1986 Tir Penrhos Tsaf has tried several times to get planning permission and only succeeded in December 2006, twenty years after their first planning application was submitted.
The residents of Tir Penrhos Isaf consider:
"that current planning and building legislation represent some of the greatest obstacles to developing sustainable systems in Britain. The legislation favours those who already have land and property, actively encourages the squandering of resources and environmental degradation and actively discourages movements towards low impact, sustainable development."
Other LIDs, such as Quicken Wood, Framfield, have been told that they will not get planning permission to live permanently on the land after 10 years of battling with the local planning authorities.
Currently, several LIDs in the UK are engaged in ongoing planning struggles, including Pwll Broga in Glandŵr Pembrokeshire.
Development of the term 'Low-Impact Development'
Low Impact Development (LID), in the UK sense of the term, was first coined by Simon Fairlie in 1996 to refer to “development that through its low impact either enhances or does not significantly diminish environmental quality”
Fairlie later wrote about the development of the term:
"In 1996, I started promoting the concept of 'Low Impact Development' in a book of that name, a book born out of the frustration of trying to obtain permission to live in a self-built, off-grid community in Somerset. Neither the term nor the concept was new. People have been living low impact lifestyles in low impact buildings for centuries; indeed until very recently the majority of people in the world lived that way. The book borrowed ideas from several other people, notably Tony Wrench, who was facing similar planning problems in Wales."
Since his original definition in 1996, Simon Fairlie has reworked it. He now prefers to define LID as ‘development which, by virtue of its low or benign environmental impact, may be allowed in locations where conventional development is not permitted.’
Fairlie explains his new definition:
"I prefer this revised definition because wrapped up in it is the main argument; that low impact buildings need not be bound by the restrictions necessary to protect the countryside from 'conventional' high impact development – a.k.a. suburban sprawl. There are two other principle arguments in favour of LID: (i) that some form of exception policy is necessary because conventional housing in a countryside protected from sprawl becomes too expensive for the people who work there; and (ii) soon we will all have to live more sustainable low impact lifestyles, so pioneers should be encouraged."
Others have expanded on the definition of LID. A study by the University of West England acknowledged that "LID is usually integrally connected with land management and as much as describing physical development, LID also describes a form of livelihood.” However, it also states that as LID is a “multi featured and intrinsically integrated form of development,” a simple definition cannot capture the meaning of LID and goes on to develop "a detailed themed definition with detailed criteria."
Dr Larch Maxey has also given a list of what he considers to be the main features of LID:
- locally adapted, diverse and unique
- based on renewable resources
- of an appropriate scale
- visually unobtrusive
- enhances biodiversity
- increases public access to open space
- generates little traffic
- linked to sustainable livelihoods
- co-ordinated by a management plan
- Maxey, Larch (December 2012). "Proof of Evidence of Dr Larch Maxey in relation to appeals APP/Y1138/ A/12/2181807, APP/Y1138/ A/12/2181808, and APP/Y1138/ A/12/2181821, evidence submitted to Mid Devon District Council planning inquiry". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Pickerill, J. and Maxey, L. (ed.). "What is Low Impact Development?". Low Impact Development: The Future in our Hands.
- Lewinsohn, Lisa (July 2008). "Planning Policy and Low Impact Developments – What are the planning barriers to low impact developments in rural areas in Britian and how might they be overcome?". MSc Thesis, Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies, CAT. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Woolley, Tom (2013). Low Impact Building: Housing using Renewable Materials. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4443-3660-3.
- "Our £3,000 Hobbit house: The family home dug from a hillside and built with scraps scavenged from skips". Daily Mail. 22 September 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Living in the Future 40: The Hobbit House (video)". Undercurrents News Network. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Hill, Vicki (20 February 2008). "How I built my house for £4,000". The Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- Wilkes, David (25 November 2013). "The £150 hobbit hole: Farmer builds a cosy cob home using materials he recycled from skips... and the tenant pays the rent in MILK". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Heydon Prowse; Tom Bell (22 March 2011). "Lammas: The eco-village that lives off the grid (video)". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Landmatters Coop gets planning approval!". Indymedia. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Monbiot, George (August 23, 2004). "Living with the Age of Entropy". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Economads. "Tinker's Bubble". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Transition and Permaculture". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Transition Homes". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Transition Homes: Pudhaven Field Site Visit Feb 2013 (video)". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "LILAC means Low Impact Living Affordable Community". December 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Brown Bread Films. "LILAC Cohousing Documentary (video)". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Norwood, Graham (February 2013). "Co-housing: a lifestyle with community spirit built into the foundations". The Observer. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Housing Minister and Kevin McCloud visit LILAC". Lindum Group. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- University of the West of England; Land Use Consultants (December 2002). "Low Impact Development – Planning Policy and Practice: Report to the Countryside Council for Wales". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Baker Associates (February 2004). "Low Impact Development – Further Research, report to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Various. "Index of Low Impact Documents on Lammas website". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Lammas (2010). "Annual Monitoring Report For Tir y Gafel Ecovillage: August 2009 – January 2011". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Welsh Government's One Planet Development policy Development Practice Guidance". October 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Fairlie, Simon (2009). Low Impact Development: Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside. Jon Carpenter Publishing. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Dartmoor National Park Authority (February 2012). "Policy DMD30: Low impact dwellings in the open countryside". p. 60.
- Pembrokeshire County Council (June 2006). "Supplementary Planning Guidance: Low Impact Development – Making a Positive Contribution". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Welsh Assembly Government (July 2010). "Technical Advice Note 6: Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities – Section 4.15 One Planet Development". Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Welsh Government (January 2011). "Technical Advice Note 6 – Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities (2010)". Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- "Roundhouse approved after decade". BBC News. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- "10-year Pembrokeshire eco-battle ends". WalesOnline. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Barkham, Patrick (25 September 2008). "Round the houses". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Salkeld, Luke (17 September 2008). "Lost middle-class tribe's 'secret' eco-village in Wales spotted in aerial photograph taken by plane". Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Dixon, Chris. "Planning History at Tir Penrhos Isaf". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Dixon, Chris (October 2009). "Planning latest at Tir Penrhos Isaf". Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Double-decker bus family lose out in planning fight at Blackboys". Uckfield News. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- "North Pembrokeshire family fight to keep roundhouse they built without permission". Western Telegraph. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- Fairlie, Simon (1996). Low impact development : planning and people in a sustainable countryside (Repr. with minor rev. 1997. ed.). Charlbury: Jon Carpenter. p. xiv. ISBN 1897766254.
- Pickerill, Jenny; Maxey, L. (2009). Low impact development : the future in our hands. [Leicester: University of Leicester, Dept. of Geography]. p. 1. ISBN 1870474368.
- Maxey, Larch (2009). "The Future in Our Hands: Low Impact Development and Sustainability Transitions". Convergence on Zero Conference, Washington DC. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
Low Impact Developments
- Hockerton Housing Project, Nottinghamshire
- Lammas eco-village, Pembrokeshire
- The Landmatters co-operative, Devon
- LILAC – Low-Impact Living Affordable Community, Yorkshire
- Tir Penrhos Isaf, Permaculture holding, Gwyedd, Wales
- Simon Dale's houses, Wales
- Ben Law house and business, West Sussex
- Steward Community Woodland, Devon
- Hill Holt Wood, Lincolnshire
- Cae Mabon, Eco Retreat Centre, Snowdonia
- Fivepenny Farm, Dorset
- Keveral Farm, Cornwall
- Penwhilwr, Pembrokeshire, Wales
- Down to Earth, Gower
- Tinker's Bubble
Listings of Low Impact Developments
- LAND Centres, Permaculture Association – a list of publicly accessible land-based Permaculture projects in the UK
- A map of LAND Centres in the UK – maintained by Permaculture Magazine
- Diggers and Dreamers – a directory of low-impact communities in Great Britain
Organisations supporting Low Impact Development
- The Ecological Land Co-operative – supporting and enabling low-impact development in the UK
- LILI – The Low Impact Living Initiative – a non-profit network of those involved with LID
- Chapter 7 – The Planning Office of The Land Is Ours
- Radical Routes
Resources supporting Low Impact Development
- DIY Planning Handbook – Published by Chapter 7, the Planning Office of The Land Is Ours
- Low Impact Development: Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside – book by Simon Fairlie
- Low Impact Building: Housing using Renewable Materials – book by Tom Woolley
- Low Impact Development: The future in our hands – Book edited by Jenny Pickerill and Larch Maxey with a foreword by Simon Fairlie
- Experience, Implications and Potential of Low Impact Development In Wales – Report by Paul Wimbush
- Does Welsh National Planning Policy effectively address Low Impact Development in the open countryside? – Paper by Louise Kulbicki
- The Role of Scientific Knowledge and Other knowledge Types in Grassroots Sustainability Initiatives: An Exploratory Case Study of a Low Impact Development Eco-village in Wales – MSc thesis by Karolina Rietzler
- Planning Policy and Low Impact Developments – What are the planning barriers to low impact developments in rural areas in Britain and how might they be overcome? – MSc thesis by Lisa Lewinsohn
- Local Sustainable Homes – How to make them happen in your community – a Transition book by Chris Bird
- Index of LID related documents on Lammas website
- Building a Low Impact Roundhouse – book by Tony Wrench
- Building with Straw Bales: A Practical Guide for the UK and Ireland book by Barbara Jones
- The Passivhaus Handbook: A practical guide to constructing and retrofitting buildings for ultra-low-energy performance – book by Janet Cotterell and Adam Dadeby
- The Hand Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage – book by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley
- Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves YOU Can Build (and snuggle up to) - book by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson
- The Land Magazine
- Permaculture Magazine
- Building a roundhouse – video demonstrating the building of one low-impact development
- Living in the Future – 50-minute documentary film telling the story of the "UK's first planned ecoVillage, Lammas."
- Living in the Future website – A video series about Ecovillages – community and low impact living
- LILAC Cohousing Documentary – A short documentary about LILAC