The community that surrounds the Wild Goose Space became aware that a developer had entered a planning permission for a standard housing development and decided to mobilise to object. Not only were they able to get the developers planning permission refused, but they submitted their own proposal for a mixed development with custom build and community focused buildings, to welcome new people into the area. The mixed use in their proposal was a significant factor in their application being accepted instead. The majority of people who then got involved were first time buyers, some designed their own homes, some used architects and they all shared the services of a structural engineer. Some bungalows were also built as shells which people could finish inside. All the buyers consented to each other’s designs which facilitated getting planning approval. Large tasks like pouring concrete were done together whilst other aspects of building were shared with friends and family. The site was already covered in an existing concrete pad and rather than dig this up they built foundations and laid services on top. As you might expect, a quality of life survey for the area has found that residents have more local friends, less fear of crime and more general joy in their area and community. They have collectively stopped thefts, by chasing after people.
When listing what it takes to make a project like this happen the factors were: ownership, range of skills and experiences, range of funding methods, teamwork, mix of voluntary and paid work, A LOT of meetings, good legal support, self belief and a lot of persistence.
Planning law changed during the walk so many people will now find that building their own home has become easier. If you are interested in self-build, there are resources in the back of the book to help you.
In the rain we toured the curving site. The individuality and love was so apparent in the buildings, very different from a developer’s construction.
A house is made of bricks and stone, but only love can make a home.
Walking out of Bristol at lunchtime I felt in a flurry to get going because there was so much ground ahead to cover. I had hoped to visit another project but it didn’t work out so I pushed on in the rain and didn’t stop. This is a foolish thing to do. If you take a ten minute break every hour you will get further and not exhaust yourself. I knew this, but I am a foolish human being at times.
By six pm I felt I didn’t want to go any further and looking at the map, I thought that the field I was walking through was my best bet for a quiet camp for quite some way ahead. The tall grass looked comfortable so I folded it down. I felt that the occasional dog walker wouldn’t mind my presence tucked out of the way and I was far enough from an urban area to reduce the risk of random attacks. I was nervously in my sleeping bag at seven. When I nipped outside in the night the sky was a bright orange. The clouds were reflecting all the light pollution from Bristol and I had no trouble seeing – it was like a giant streetlight overhead. Other than the obligatory toilet trip, one other thing woke me.
Rustling…Somewhere behind my head. Heart pounding, I sat up. The rustling stopped. I stopped breathing to listen, and after a few seconds it started again. I tapped the bottom of the tent where it met the wall behind my head. The rustling stopped.