Audio recording of 10th March open meeting with transcript


What is an eco-village ? The community that lives there rather than any other factor eg geographical location.

Relies on all people involved from this stage onwards to make the project a success.

Where we are ? This is the fifth meeting; steadily numbers have grown.

So … … What do we all need ? What must we have ? What would stop involvement ?

Start now to begin to bond as community – ideal; need to start building community now as the project will take a while.

Building on-site in 12 months (potentially! though optimistically).

Damien and Rajiv – lucky enough to have had time to push the project forwards already – but too much work – needs others to be involved.
As a group – we have time and skills – just a few of us will struggle to get this project up and running quickly.

Lucky to be working with Debbie (CLT)
CLT ? link
We have access to some funding.

Where we are now ?
We’ve agreed on the permaculture philosophy of earth care, people care, fair share.
Permaculture ? link
Our vision:
Interaction of earth care, people care and fair share.
Making something that’s sustainable and somewhere we’d like to live.
Beautiful shared spaces.
Shared spaces and private spaces also – not a commune.
Shared meals, shared laundry, places where we meet, generate energy together, generate food together.
Humans as intrinsic part of ecosystem.
Land – not to be exploited but stewarded for future generations

The CLT holds land in trust for future generations and ensures affordability going into the future for others.

Community and Sustainability – important
We envisage generating highly insulated houses.

Perhaps to pursue a sustainability code but affordability essential ie not to sacrifice certification for cost.

Affordability – essential.
Affordability – mechanisms for home access if insufficient money available eg sharing equity in house, provide labour for sweat equity ie involvement in building, rental opportunities.

Mixed community envisaged – in age and income.

Open to ideas – how we can work together better remotely.

We’ve caught some media attention – increased our numbers – Cambridge Evening News.
Cambridge Evening News story ? link

Working on networks and connections is important.
Currently 4 or 5 in core – we don’t have certain skills, but survey shows that we have most of what we need between us.
Talking to many groups involved in projects similar to ours.
Have talked to South Cambs District Council – the Self-Build Vanguard Project – tasked with encouraging self-build and with providing plots.
Self-Build Vanguard Project ? link

Discuss community development – and legal models – with CLT.
Looking for sites.
The above is in process

We have received some feedback having talked to landowners eg the owners of the site in Sawston.
Sawston site ? link

Discussing with SCDC and landowner (of site above) at moment nothing set in stone- 120 acre site – big.
Planning app rejected for leisure use.
Need to re-work planning application.
Special justification needed in planning application to use greenbelt land there.
Site – disused quarry – needs regenerating.
Have just connected to a Master Planner + Planner- working on putting something for us to put in front of council.
Try to find something that pleases landowner and us.
Original plan rejected – reasons of scale + building on greenbelt land – also because of numbers of houses planned for building in and around Sawston … … so we need to generate a special proposal – something special for the community.

540 homes on 3 sites to be built around Sawston.

Different areas of country – plenty of attractive models which we can base our project on eg

Totnes eco-village ? link
[1] Totnes – interesting for density – 7.5 acres/25 homes.
Unusual for relatively high housing density (for this form of project).
Using strawbale and timber frame – running self-build courses on-site.
Self-build option with training courses on site.
Sweat equity option.
Totnes development – is open (for residence) to those in housing need only.
Criteria for membership – fulfil council and CLT requirements.
Social rent + shared equity possible there.
They’re currently applying for planning.
Community hub, Generate own food/energy and handle waste and water ie full recycling on site.

Leeds-Lilac eco-village ? link
[2] Lilac – straw houses.
20 homes – modular build – modcell – easy to build with.
Make own energy, but have gas-fired boilers too.
Allotments, community hub.
Interesting model tenure – nobody owns home – mutual home ownership so shared mortgage between all people. Each pays 35% income into CLT which pays the mortgage.
However – £20k deposit 1 bed flat, £40-50k deposit for 3/4 bed house – high – high deposits required to make 35% figures work.

Threshold Centre eco-village ? link
[3] Threshold Centre – Dorset – co-housing project.
Set up by people interested in living in a community
Set up on a farm.
Coral Farm.
Local food and energy generation.
Eco-villagers lived in the existing building for a fair while before eco-village formed..
14 homes.
Payment options – social rent and shared equity.
However, rental (or home prices) 80% market value so unaffordable in Cambridge; this is the mark of a co-housing project.
The Housing Association can though make things work by paying construction costs though.

Bridport ? link
[4] Individual who set up the Threshold Centre – working on Bridport – currently at planning stage.
Similar housing density to Totnes project.
7 acres 34 homes.
Once again – relatively high density housing for an eco-village.
Payment options – shared equity and rent.
Option on additional land (to be exercised in future when more funds become available) – to grow food.
Legal structure – Cohousing CLT

To visit Totnes eco-village: Debbie, Rajiv, Damien.

CFLC working with planner from Totnes.

In keeping with existing models – looking for 15 acres – 50 homes.

Intentions – like Totnes – use local resources, use local waste i.e. straw, self-build on site, generate own energy and food, deal with waste on site, shared area for community and wider community, work, live and play space.
Several people – would like to work from site.
Mentioned – brewery option, hydrogen generation and cars mentioned, a site for The Therapy Room.

Looking for a mixed community.

Some market price homes may be necessary – in order to raise money.
Market price homes to be a part of the community rather than separate.

Group session – Discuss what people’d like to see in an eco-village ?
We don’t want to get to a point where people no longer like how the project has developed.

So what’re the things we must have and must not have ?

– Create community – essential
– Generate energy – good
– Sweat equity – good

How would people leave ? Buy and Sell for a profit ?
How would this happen ?

– Importance of private space – essential
Governance ? How to manage ? Lots of smaller groups which come together to manage the entire project?

Are there any showstoppers ?

Reaching consensus – digital democracy consensus model.
Social model often goes wrong.
Try and solve problems before they arise.
Vocaleyes and Localeyes.
Vocaleyes, Localeyes ? link

It’d be ideal if we could make decisions between meetings.

– Energy and transport – essential
Transport links – importance of cycle routes, Sawston proximity.
Bus company to allow a stop on-site ?
Try not to need to use cars.
A village shop.

– Energy – sustainable energy within village – good

Can we all start with a shell and then develop the house as we make more money ?
As needs grow – extend house.
All start with same shell (basic) and develop it in time.
More rooted if build with property instead of moving to a larger property on-site.
Is this possible ?
We’ve talked about internal partitioning.
Various options.
Swapping property with other people – an option we’ve discussed before.
In Germany – often construct a shell and fit it out in time.
Partnerships between eco-villages mentioned – move from one to another property in another – for holidays or more permanently.

– Growing food – essential
– Seconded – growing food – essential
– Car share scheme – essential
Way to get to the train station.

– No animal exploitation – essential
Attempt cruelty-free lifestyle.

Desire for community based/led development – just not a few people steering the project.

– No wifi in shared spaces – essential
Want wired internet.

Now look at survey.
39 responses so far.

Most who’ve replied are in and around Cambridge.
Spread of ages.
Mostly 35 – 54.
Important to have kids in village.

Learning opportunities, home schooling possible.
Have Rebecca – Waldorf Steiner School interested in the project.

Interested in education of both kids and adults.

Types of home – decent spread.

85% interested in being residents.

Priorities from survey – top 3
1 – affordability
2 – sustainability
3 – proximity to Cambridge

Money ?
If land becomes available – we need to have some money to put down.
Deposit needed.

Community shares in project to assist funding ?

We won’t be able to fund project wholly in community shares – but may use it to gain more money.
Where do we put our efforts ? time ?
Have all skills bar legal.

Currently – no definitive need for skills which we’ve listed in the survey – but will do as we move along.

Part of goal of this meeting – just to know if people have time to help on these various projects (on a weekly basis) ?

Time commitment ?
Core team doesn’t have enough time to perform all work required – so other member involvement required to take the pressure off.
To ensure we move quickly re:funding, land.

Need more members on steering group.
Maybe 2.

Steering group member – requires an investment in time.

Which skills needed ?
Generic management skills and passion.

RE:skills – we’ll never cover all skills – learn to network so all skills covered whether within or not the local group. Plenty of people all around the world who do not need to be present locally, geographically to help.

Rajiv has connected us to Tony – financial planning skills.
He’s an Advisory Panel member.

Also have Planner and Master Planner on the Advisory Panel.

What we need ? Project management skills.

Now covering the final slide of the presentation ?
Nice to be a part of community as we get older and no longer can self-support.

Structures – to be recognized by local authorities, funding, organizations – we need a legal structure eg CLT, Co-housing and Co-operative forms.

[1] CLT about stewarding assets for and by community.
To ensure affordability.
Advantages – land at affordable prices, land we wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.
Some land can be accessed by CLT which developers cannot.

Damien – tried to do it alone – couldn’t win land operating by himself.

[2] Co-housing – living as a community – run by residents, share facilities.
Each householder self-contained but many communal activities.
Co-housing ? link

[3] Co-operative – providing for those in housing need.
Normally mutual model and people rent homes.
Co-operative ? link

We’ve looked at CLT and co-housing most closely; currently applying to CLT as members for funding.

Governance – how do we make decisions ?

Digitize democracy – would be wonderful.

So far – just a core group – working on behalf of the wider group.

Rajiv – talking to Transition Network – main concern with co-op/eco-village
– major problem – social aspects.
Social aspects means:
Must look at governance and how to resolve issues.

Must look at these 2 issues.

How do we iron out issues which arise ?

Many potential problems will be encountered eg size of land, where will it be, deposit needed.

Importance for core group members to change frequently.

We need to be ensure that all people are conscious of the major issues.

Want mediation rather than majority decisions where minority rejected.

We need to ensure that all people agree on the philosophy of CFLC.

Problems – so far – maintaining cohesion in team.
Need to deliver the project quicker than is usual.
Hoping that this is possible as we’re listening to groups which have gone before us.
The longer we wait – the more likely the project will dissolve.

Would like to speak to people individually if that’s what people would like re:passion, interest and how they’d be best served best serving this project.

Funding – big issue.
Currently – having voluntary help – but that’ll only last for so long.

Planning costs – approx £50-75k.
Land costs – agricultural prices – 15 acres – £250k … … potentially free or discounted if we help landowner develop market price homes as a part of the village.
Landowner gains as wouldn’t be able to have any market price homes without our presence.
May not be relevant to Sawston site.

Need to talk to Sawston, Stapleford local parish councils – see what they want; how we can fit in.
540 homes to be built in that area.

Hockerton ? link
CFLC members – due to visit Hockerton.
One of first eco-villages in country.
Houses built into earth.
Passive solar and Solar panels.
In terrace structure.
Lots to learn from them.
However houses now worth £500,000 ! which isn’t so great for prospective residents.

We need to address short term funding.
Debbie has some contacts.

Core group to visit Totnes soon.

Meeting with Peter Guthrie today – offered 4th year undergrads to look at specific areas of the project. So – these students would work with members of the advisory panel who’re not physically localized here.
Peter Guthrie ? link

Looking at sites – Sawston, also – Waterbeach (15 acre).
Waterbeach ? link

Most important – us as a community getting together.
Can we share contact details with one another so we can start to get to know one another ?




  1. SB on 19th March 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Please leave a comment if amendments required to the transcript or more links needed; this was my first attempt at recording a meeting and my aged Nokia phone didn’t quite handle the quieter voices in the room.

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