For some of us lockdown created more time, for others, less, as family life intensified, but between us all we juggled the tasks. During this time, a touchstone moment emerged for us after two years of plugging away. We were ready to start looking for land, seriously! As lockdown started to ease in June, we set up three site viewings. A 3.3 acre plot just outside Polegate got us jumping. It was a disused old loom mill with outline planning for 24 dwellings to replace the dilapidated ones on site.
We needed to submit a basic site plan to the planning authorities, so suddenly we were thinking about designing a site for our two year dream. Now the reality of wanting to build in one of the most desirable counties in England became really clear. 25 houses is the maximum number we had envisioned. Great! But this was on the smallest amount of land. Yikes!
Some of the group felt the squeeze on the Heartward principles we’d taken so long to cultivate, like growing plenty of our own food, secluded spots, wildlife corridors….on 3 acres! We had to have a good think about how we’d allocate the land use. It took a while. We also looked at some designs of other co-housing sites.
Here are some of the designs we looked at:
It was quite a moment when we realized it could all fit on just 3 acres.
As it turns out there were one or two other red flags that got in the way for this particular site, namely, flood projections for the area in 25 years time!
It turns out that Polegate and a good many other sites in Sussex are at risk. Heartward community is in perpetuity for future members so we want to stick to higher ground. At least we are confident now that we can do it on a smaller footprint where beauty and smart design will embed it profoundly.