As local young residents become aware of EYV and the adjunct Self Build Project through the publicity and awareness work that we're doing, we are receiving more and more enquiries about 'how to become a self builder'. The initial enthusiasm of most enquirers subsides when they become aware of the hurdles which stand between them and the reality of building, but of those who return to the enquiry, there is a real sense of commitment.
The reality of building within a National Park - even one which would like to facilitate self build - and the increased paperwork that National Park status brings (wildlife studies, conservation areas, and environmental protection issues) has, in a few cases, resulted in our applicants abandoning the Park and taking their self build ambitions elsewhere.
The biggest issue remains 'building land': We still have only four plots which offer a realistic prospect of eventually seeing self-build development. For some (families with children who are settled into schools or nurseries, perhaps, or those with family members living near their current home, the plots we offer are in an inconvenient location - without uprooting and starting again. After all, the Park contains an area of 270 square miles - and our plots (with one exception) lie along the ten miles of road between Exford and Luxborough.
Other applicants object to the 'smallness' of the plots citing the difficulty of growing vegetables and space for children to play, for example - a vision shared by many for their new family home.
One couple - childless at the moment but planning a family in the future, wonders how they would manage in 93m2 of habitable space in the long term, and no possibility of extending what they built 'at first'.
Applicants feel that if they're going to go to all the effort of building themselves a home, they're not going to do it on a plot which is nearly, but isn't quite what they're after - particularly as they expect to have a lifelong commitment to the house they build.
Consequently, many of those families who have viewed our plots decide that they will 'hang on' in the hope of finding a building plot on the moor which offers them room for a home and outdoor life at that home - not an uncommon ambition, I suppose, among people who love the environment.
As for the rest, several applicants do not yet qualify for 'local connection' status. Their applications will take time - perhaps years - as they establish 'tie' criteria through continued employment or just serving their residential time.
This will be a longer-term project than I envisaged - but there are many more applicants than I imagined we would have, and they, at least, are on the slow-moving conveyor belt.
Justin Tyers, Exmoor Young Voices Self Build Project Leader
Key figures / info:
Megan Hunt, Exmoor Young Voices Coordinator
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