A quick overview of sustainable construction, natural building and one planet development networks here in Wales and across the UK.
As you may be aware, Wales is leading the way in sustainable building and low-impact living with the One Planet Development planning policy which was adopted by the Welsh Government in 2011. The policy emerged from grass roots natural and low-cost living projects that were popping up in the Welsh countryside in the late 1990s.
Pre-lockdown, visitors to our shop would hear many an interesting and optimistic conversation with aspiring One Planet Development self-builders and entrepreneurs who were well versed in the history of Tony Wrench’s Roundhouse, the Lammas Eco Village and who often have a well-thumbed copy of Simon Fairlie’s book “low Impact Development” on their shelves too. Indeed, many One Planet Development projects are within a stone’s throw of our showroom here in Cardigan.
Celtic Sustainables primarily supplies lime, sustainable insulation, eco paints and coatings for a finished eco-build, however, we thought it would be useful to write a short guide to help eco-renovators and aspiring sustainable self-builders to find contractors, courses and advice for their sustainable building project or heritage building renovation here in Wales and elsewhere in the UK.
An organisation that Celtic Sustainables is a member of, the ASBP is a great place to find out the latest thinking around sustainable building materials. We particularly love their annual ASBP Awards which is a competition to find the most sustainable building of the year, whether that is a home, commercial building, or technology. The finalists and case studies are truly inspirational.
Delve deeply into the Low Impact website to find information and courses across the UK on all kinds of sustainable construction techniques for low-impact building and retrofitting. The low impact website is also the place to go for resources for low impact living - anything from gardening to felt making. A brilliant resource and updated regularly. You will be sure to find a course on any low impact subject close to you where you live.
Our friends at Ty Pren, who specialise in roundwood timber frame construction (you can read about the wonderful community hub building they built at our local forest garden), are looking to develop an association of natural builders for Wales.
At the time of writing, they are calling it the Association of Natural Builders Cymru. In short it will be a referral network for builders who share the same high standards and sustainable ethos. They intend that there will be no fee to join. In time it is hoped that skilled natural builders can use the network to win more projects, and projects at a larger scale. If you are interested in finding out more about joining this network, please see details on the Ty Pren website.
Based in Machynlleth, mid Wales, CAT is a great family day out to learn about sustainable living. What most people don’t often know though is that as an educational charity they also offer a free information service to anyone who wants to understand more about renewable energy, green building and renovation, water and sewage treatment and other sustainable building and living topics. The CAT website is well worth a look if you would like to understand more about eco technologies for your eco build project.
Information for owners of Traditional and Heritage Buildings
Working across the UK, the Heritage Trust Network has members across the UK that can help find information and contractors for the building vernacular near you. Their aim is to breath new life into old buildings. Their online toolkit is very useful. It can help guide you through the key stages of your heritage building project.
If you are renovating a traditional welsh long-house, old cob or stone and lime building here in Wales, the Welsh Traditional Buildings Forum is a great place to find out about accredited building courses or to find building materials or a contractor.
The Tywi Centre works with owners of listed and old non-listed buildings with the aim of ensuring that everyone who is responsible for looking after, or working on, an old building in West Wales has the right information to carry out sensitive and appropriate repairs. Along with training, workshops and general advice, they also offer one free pre-application online surgery for owners of listed buildings in Carmarthenshire to help focus ideas for your listed building renovation project.
Aiming to raise awareness of the ways that traditional building in Scotland need to be maintained and renovated, the STBF has a number of local groups across Scotland that homeowners can access for advice.
The Historic England website has a lot of information for owners of listed and older buildings along with those located in a conservation area. The advice section about “your home” gives a particularly good overview of when and how planning applications may need to be made for changes or repairs to your older property.
Some great resources for newcomers to the lime building world, but mainly aimed at professionals and lime enthusiasts. The Building Limes Forum is all about the appropriate building, renovating, repairing and aftercare of properties with lime.
A great resource for owners of buildings with thatched roofs. The Thatch Advice Centre has a directory of thatch specialists in the UK. Also has resources about improvements that can be made for thatched roof fire safety, differenty types of thatch and the possible costs of renewing your thatched roof. If you are looking to purchase or have recently purchased a home with a thatched roof in the UK this site is a great place to find information about how to maintain your thatched roof.
One Planet Development (OPD)
One Planet Development is a specific type of planning application unique to Wales. It combines sustainable living with the homeowners ecological footprint for their land-based enterprise and life. More information about the planning legislation for One Planet Development can be found on the Wales Government website.
The One Planet Council is a voluntary organisation that supports One Planet Development in Wales. Their website has many resources about One Planet Development and is a great network for people interested in this planning route (or indeed who have already purchased land with a view to living in a more sustainable way).
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