February 23, 2016
Big step towards 1000 huts
One of the criticisms levelled at the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy is that there hasn’t been enough attention paid to the key question of how communities engage with land – how they think about it, what they use it for and what measures might help to improve this most important of relationships. Since 2011, a small band of enthusiastic campaigners have been working to raise the profile of hutting – an activity specifically aimed at reconnecting people with the land. A good practice guide was published in Parliament yesterday.
Last night at the Scottish Parliament, Reforesting Scotland will celebrate the launch of its new guide to help planners and hut builders respond to the emerging opportunities for huts in Scotland. At an event attended by 80 members of the planning, building and design communities, Reforesting Scotland explained why Scotland’s planning authorities are likely to receive a new generation of planning applications from hutters encouraged by recent developments in the policy and regulatory framework for huts.
Welcoming the report, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead said:
“Huts and hutting are a great way for people to enjoy Scotland’s outstanding natural environment, with all the benefits to health and wellbeing this can bring. I very much welcome the publication of this guidance, which I hope will provide an important opportunity for many more people in Scotland to enjoy the recreational benefits associated with huts and hutting.”
Scotland has a strong hutting history, but numbers have declined in recent years due to a lack of a planning policy and regulatory framework for new huts. However, the tide turned when Scottish Planning Policy 2014 included supportive policy on huts, indicating that the demand for huts for recreational use is one of the matters that should be addressed in the preparation of development plans. Now the Scottish Government Building Standards Division is analysing consultation responses to the proposal that huts be exempt from building regulations.
Ninian Stuart, a Director of Reforesting Scotland and founder of the Thousand Huts campaign said, “Our new guidance is designed to support planners and future hut builders to create new hut developments which will enhance people’s health and happiness by spending time in Scotland’s amazing landscapes. It will also help planning authorities develop their own policy and supplementary guidance on huts. We have 800 people on our books who are keen to have access to a simple hut in nature and we believe that’s just the beginning.”