Low-impact living opportunities in Argyll & Bute

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Posted Jun 14 2013 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org

We’ve had a bit of a heads-up from a Lowimpact.org partner (who wants to remain anonymous) and family who have been looking for land to start a smallholding for years, and are finally buying a bit of Scotland on the Cowal peninsula in Argyllshire. He wants to pass on some interesting information to other people looking to do a similar thing.

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A friend of ours stumbled across some interesting developments in Argyll & Bute whilst looking for land for sale. The county contains hundreds of new ‘rural opportunity areas (although they’re not necessarily all for sale), and with the potential for five dwellings per opportunity area, it could be a springboard for some extremely low-impact developments and even a network of small communities.

The interesting thing is that the planning department has done a survey of the whole county and highlighted sites where small-scale development in the countryside is permitted. They are keen to repopulate the countryside and the planner I have met is very encouraging, confirming that there could be a positive response for up to 5 dwellings per area.

The local authority are very much into local materials and sustainability and have already passed a timber reciprocal beamed roundhouse (David Blairs’ environmental education centre, Dunbeag), so are familiar with low-impact building techniques.

Here are links to 2 documents to have a look at.

The first outlines what the ‘rural opportunity’ areas are, and the second shows which bits of land are available. This is only a small part of the whole area – there are around 30 other documents like this one, covering the whole county.

I think there is great potential for small permaculture communities. We are getting 100 acres (25 pasture, 75 spruce) for £145,000 which makes development affordable. Plus there’s a 120-acre piece of land for sale right next door. Argyllshire is a hotbed of alternative stuff at the moment – community forests, new hydro schemes, car sharing, monthly craft markets etc.

So come on – we’d like some low-impact, like-minded neighbours!