First of its kind 'tiny housing' forest commune approved

North East Fife planning councillors signed off on the tiny home proposals from Paula Cowie on Wednesday afternoon.

First of its kind ‘tiny housing’ forest commune approved in Fife LDRS

Four families living in tiny 12 by three metres wide homes could soon move into a commune in Auchtermuchty’s Pitmedden Forest.

North East Fife planning councillors signed off on the tiny home proposals from Paula Cowie on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a very love and peace type thing – living the hippy dream except that it’s not San Francisco and it’s not quite as sunny,” Councillor David MacDiarmid (SNP for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast) said.

“I’m fully in support of this type of thing, and the more we see of these around Fife the better, as far as I’m concerned.”

A drawing of what the homes could look like (Image from Fife Council planning papers).LDRS

Councillor Donald Lothian (Lib-Dem for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast) added: “This is certainly an interesting and innovative project. We haven’t really seen anything like this before – at least I haven’t. It is sort of cutting edge, which is interesting. As we have a housing crisis in this country, all things should be considered for the future.”

The proposals are for four tiny homes and a communal building to support a small community that “can live within the Earth’s resources.”

The project will give four families the opportunity to house their self-built tiny homes near Auchtermuchty’s Pitmedden Forest on Reediehill Farm.

These will be small, energy efficient, and moveable houses built to a “high environmental standard.” They will require minimal heating, water and have no sewage output.

“The families will be committing to nature-connected community living,” planning papers said. “It will be an example of affordable low impact living for families and small sustainable communities.”

Residents will be carefully selected by Ms Cowie. They will each live by a “community agreement” to travel sustainably, develop or maintain sustainable livelihoods, work together towards self-sufficient food production, and live in harmony with the land.

That community agreement and ethos is a large part of why the application was successful.

Planning officer said that under normal circumstances, the National Planning framework forbids housing development in the countryside. The eco-centric nature of the project makes it acceptable – subject to some rules and conditions.

The council has only granted temporary permission for the next 10 years. Similarly, if Ms Cowie steps down as project manager, the council will need to re-approve the development based on her replacement.

These conditions ensure that the site’s “eco-credentials are maintained” over time.

Councillor Robin Lawson (Conservative for St Andrews) called the development a “bipolar type of application” for the mixed bag of support and objections it has received.

There were nine public objections and 20 letters of public support. Transportation managers also objected to the development.

The site will be at the end of a single-track isolated public road, which goes against transportation policy. Planning officers argued that this “is not considered to be an orthodox proposal.”

“The development” seeks to vastly reduce the need for conventional car ownership and use,” they said.

There is also a bus route two miles away that can “easily be reached by foot or cycle.”

The application was ultimately approved unanimously by North East planning councillors.

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