Richard St Geoege & Roger Kelly: Ecoville 2000 talks now online

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Feb 11 21:08:27 GMT 2015

High Quality audio with Roger and now sadly 
passed away director of the Shumacher Society 
Richard St George on one of Britain's greatest ever Ecovillage design concepts
If the govt. was any good they'd have picked up on this

UK 2000 person autonomous ecovillage design

Who knows - perhaps someday someone will?

Roger Kelly HQ edited 00:49:40 128Kbps mp3
(47MB) Stereo

Schumacher socs Richard St George - on Ecoville 00:05:45 128Kbps mp3
(5MB) Stereo

UK 2000 person autonomous ecovillage design
Broadband Co-operative
Subtitle: Ecoville 2000 was a brilliant 
ecovillage design squashed by the UK government
Program Type: <>Weekly Program
Featured Speakers/Commentators: Roger Kelly 
former director of Machynlleth's Centre for
Broadcast Restrictions: For non-profit use only.
License: Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) 

Broadcast Advisory: No Advisories - program content screened and verified.
Credits: Ecoville 2000 was a giant ecovillage 
project developed at the Centre for Alternative 
Technology in Wales in the 1990s. Roger was 
director of CAT and one of the project leaders.
Notes: Ecovillage 2000 was the brainchild of two 
men at the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth.
Roger Kelly was a pioneer of Housing Associations 
in the 1970's. As director of Solon South-West he 
built and managed thousands of homes. Roger then 
moved to Wales, becoming director of CAT in 1988. 
Richard St. George was intent on putting the 
ideas of E.F. Schumacher into practice. Small is 
Beautiful, for Richard, marked the coming of age 
of the green movement. Specifically his emphasis 
on researching, designing and building the alternatives.
Richard and Roger had both been racking their 
brains over a dilemma. Small were acting as 
beautiful beacons for future sustainable 
development, but pioneering communities needed to 
be bigger to compete with the outside economy. The question was just how big?
The fundamental test of a community's viability, 
Richard argued, is its ability to retain its 
teenagers and to enable people of all ages to to 
share positions of responsibility. strike a 
balance with everyone sharing the community's 
positions of responsibility. So many times with 
Intentional Communities young people decided it 
wasn't for them so many of them fled the nest 
after a generation or so they died out through 
being abandoned by their young people. What would 
keep them there would be a standard of living as 
good or better than the best civilisation has to 
offer combined with a real independent spirit
In the winter of 1994 Richard woke one morning to 
find himself snowed in. It looked like it might 
be several days until he found his way into work 
at CAT. A great time, he decided, to bite the 
bullet. Richard sat down and listed every service 
that we might expect in any civilised community: 
doctor, farmer, teacher, mechanic, builder, 
plumber, carpenter, printer, IT fixer, and the 
list went on... and on... and on.
Eventually it ran to over 220 roles under eleven 
headings, with a job description for each role. 
Agricultural; crafts; arts; sports; estate 
management; services; health; educational; 
commercial; technical and industrial. Over 
succeeding days for the two weeks he was snowed 
in, he worked out how many people, considering 
holidays, training, sickness, shift work, etc. 
would be need in each of these key roles. 
Children and the elderly would not be expected to 
do any work of course. He came up with a figure 
of each role needing from between one and 25 people to fill it.
[picture of ecoville house design] Meanwhile 
Roger was working on designs for the Ecohomes. 
Through his experience with the pitfalls of 
building social housing he decided on several 
constraints. Each family house would have an 
allotment sized portion of land immediately 
attached to it. Evidence in our cities is that if 
people have allotments adjacent they use them. 
But the price of urban land makes that very 
difficult to realise. Ecoville's good sized 
gardens were for the family to use for growing, grazing or recreational space.
Then there was the density of housing. Roger knew 
that people tend to like living close to other 
families but not close to too many. He settled on 
ideal huddle of ten to twenty houses fairly close 
together, with the clusters being up to a kilometre from the village centre.
Each housing cluster would include individual 
houses (1), most with attached workshops; a 
building with communal facilities (2) such as a 
laundry, meeting room, boiler house or store for 
shared tools and equipment; and an area of 
horticultural land (3), providing principally for 
the residentsÂ’ own needs but also selling surplus produce.
The core of the design was the village centre - 
the existing farmhouse, outhouses and 
semi-derelict buildings (1-4). These fulfilled a 
dual function as accommodation for self-builders 
as the project was being constructed as well as 
fulfilling an ultimate function, with the 
addition of some new buildings (5) forming a 
central village square. Finally the village 
centre would contain workshops, an exhibition 
space, a café/bar and a small shop.
The acreage needed for the entire project would 
depend on what figure Richard came up with for the minimum viable population.
As snowbound Richard worked his figures through 
it became clear the figure would be higher than 
either of them had thought. When Richard 
eventually arrived for work at CAT he announced 
the magic number: two thousand. After totting up 
all the roles Richard looked at all the different 
reasons why a resident would not be able to 
fulfil that role. 25% were children, 10% elderly 
or infirm, 10% drop out, 10% away at university 
etc., 5% nursing mothers, 5% dad's on paternity 
leave, 5% on holidays, sabbaticals and 
secondments leaving only 30% of residents as a 
workforce. This brought the number of roles 
needed, around 600 up to a figure of around 1000 total residents.
Under this figure residents were likely to have 
too much responsibility, Richard felt. Over 2000 
would be too many for everyone to feel 
enfranchised. Once they were clear about the 
overall scale they started drawing up criteria, 
starting with water needs, with which to identify potential sites.
The response from UK planning authorities was 
almost universally negative. No British local 
authorities would consider seriously allowing 
permission for Ecovillage 2000 in their patch so, 
rather than let planning constraints and land 
values kill the project, in 1997 they decided to focus their efforts abroad.
[map of the site in france] Eventually the team 
decided the best bet was to build it on a site in 
France with a highly supportive local authority. 
A farmer's son who owned the site had no-one to 
take on his farm and wanted to retire, sell up. 
Ecovillage 2000 became Ecoville 2000.
This was a mostly wooded site of several hundred 
hectares at Versels, Causse de Sauveterre in the 
Canton of Le Massegros, near where Roquefort 
cheese is produced. Here, the French government 
funded much of the Ecoville feasibility study 
which - 18 months after they first set foot on 
the land - cleared the way for planning 
permission to be granted. At this point the tale 
sadly ends, the farmer's son changed his mind and 
his father decided not to sell the land.
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