The Welsh Government's One Planet Development policy is a forward-thinking approach to driving a move towards more sustainable lives. We spoke with Mark Waghorn, lead architect of the Mark Waghorn Design practice in South West Wales, about the challenge of meeting stringent environmental standards, and encouraging lower consumption.
The policy is about Wales' aspiration to live within its global means within a generation. Waghorn explained:
“Management plans have to be submitted showing how you will use local resources, grow your own food, manage waste – and the dwelling has to be removable. It's a radical approach about minimising environmental impact, and it's not just about CO2. It assumes all the world's resources are shared equally and pushes you to live within your means. You have to include information about consumer purchases and transport as well.
“It's suitable for individuals, couples or families, and is perfectly achievable using current building methods and technologies. There have been six or seven applications approved so far.”
Widening the appeal All undoubtedly noble objectives, but with numbers of sites being developed to the demands of the policy currently low, is it an approach that's reaching the numbers of people it needs to? Waghorn said:
“It's well-known among people who are interested in living this way, but the average person perhaps wouldn't know about it. As part of the One Planet Council, we're exploring how people could implement this in less remote areas, on the edge of a settlement. This would be for people who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle but perhaps would want to maintain a full-time job.
“The current standards demand growing 35 per cent of your own food, with another 30 per cent of needs catered for from the profits from another on-site source. We hope to be allowed to come up with a less stringent specification that would be low energy, but not quite all the way.”
A light footprintWhile negotiations on this adaptation of the policy continue, Mark's firm has come up with two designs to meet current standards: the One Planet Monopitch Home and One Planet Caravan.
The modular home made from locally-sourced timber was the first to be conceived, and it features pad foundations that can be removed. It's also super-insulated, and can be taken apart and reused or recycled. He explained:
“The planning policy requires you to demonstrate that what you are doing is reversible; if you left the site you would leave it in the same state you found it or better. You're not talking about building with a concrete base, it has to sit lightly on the land. This is a good philosophy to have anyway.”
All text and details taken from: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/blog/sustainable-self-build-homes-likely-future-welsh-developments
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