Hutters wanted for new community in national forest

Those seeking a simpler life will soon have the chance to secure a plot in the first hutting community to be built on Scotland’s national forest estate.

Those seeking a simpler life will soon have the chance to secure a plot in the first hutting community to be built on Scotland’s national forest estate.

A 13-hut community at Carnock Wood, near Saline in Fife, has been approved by planners with people invited to register their interest from next week.

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The huts will be built amid the birches, pines and sycamores of the forest with hopes the hutters will be on site by Spring 2019.

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Ten plots will be offered to those living within 50 miles of Carnock Wood, two will go to those living in the surrounding community with another to be used as a classroom for a local school.

The development is viewed as major step forward in the campaign to revive a culture of recreational hutting in Scotland which dipped away following World War Two.

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Donald McPhillimy, of Reforesting Scotland, which will open the process of registration at its rally in Edinburgh on November 18, said: “It’s an exciting time.”

He added: “Up until now it has all been internal work with the Scottish Government and planners and soon were are going to have a group of people who will have a stake in the project.

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“We are looking for people who live withing a 50 mile radius of the site. That will take in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. Two of the huts will go to people living in the local community.

“There has been a 70 year gap in the hutting movement in Scotland so we are really working to get it to where it would have been.”

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A ballot will ultimately decide who will get a plot in the national forest, which is managed on behalf of Scottish Ministers by Forest Enterprise.

Successful applicants will build their own hut, which usually costs anything between £200 and £5,000 depending on materials used, with a design code set out by planners.

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In addition, the Carnock Wood hutters will enter a rental agreement with Forest Enterprise for their space in the wood, which is designed to be used at weekends and for holidays.

This cost has yet to be negotiated with hopes to keep the rental price as low as possible in order to make hutting open to many.

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Each hut, which will have no running water or electricity, will be likely be serviced by its own compost toilet.

Mr McPhillimy added: “With hutting you are really going back to basics. You are leaving a lot of clutter of day to day life behind in your house. You take only what you need to your hut.

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“You’ll probably keep warm with a stove and light your hut with candles. You might go for a nice walk. It is really about going back to a very simple way of life.”

Reforesting Scotland has been working since 2011 to increase the number of huts in Scotland.

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In 1999, a report commissioned by the then Scottish Executive found there were up to 700 huts in Scotland - or roughly one for every 8,000 people.

In Norway, there are over 400,000 huts - or one to every 10 people.

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Since 2014, the Scottish Government’s planning policy has encouraged planning authorities to consider huts for recreational use.

New relaxed building controls were introduced in July which waives the need for a building warrant for huts less than 30 metres square, although a set of standards must still be met.

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Scotland’s most established hutting community can be found at Carbeth in Stirlingshire.

It took shape in 1918 when the landowner gave returning World War One soldiers camping rights. In 1941, Carbeth huts filled with evacuees and homeless people from Clydebank who had been driven away from their homes by air raids.

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The Carbeth site has been owned by the hutters since 2013.

Other hutting sites are springing up across Scotland, includingone at Falkland Estates in Fife. Work is ongoing with private landowners to free up more space for hutting with hopes that communities may be able to buy land to create the retreats.

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Interest can be registered in the Carnock Woods site from November 18 at www.thousandhuts.org.