Why no support or solidarity organised for Steward Wood?

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Fri Mar 30 11:57:07 BST 2018



Why are all forms of alternative living, 
including canal and gypsies/travellers being 
actively suppressed by the UK’s Tory government? Sound familiar?

treatment of an alternative green community saddens Tom Greeves
By Plymouth Herald  07:56, 25 MAR 2018
Sonia “Sonny” Parsons wit daughter Asha, and 
Daniel Thompson-Mills at Steward Community Woodland

The announcement by Steward Community Woodland, 
near Moretonhampstead, that most of the 21 
residents have now left, and that 
homes and other structures are being dismantled, 
should send a shudder through all of us.

It is the consequence of an enforcement notice 
issued by Dartmoor National Park Authority 
following the loss (in August 2016) of an appeal 
against refusal of planning permission for 
permanent residency, combined with the refusal of 
the park authority to countenance a new 
application for low-impact dwellings in the 
32-acre woodland (which is owned by the community).

This is one of the worst environmental outcomes 
that I am aware of, having studied Dartmoor for 
more than 50 years. Future generations will be 
astonished that this has happened in one of our 
national parks, which are often hailed as leaders in environmental protection.

Sonia “Sonny” Parsons and daughter Asha at Steward Community Woodland

After 67 years of existence it is surely not too 
much to expect Dartmoor National Park to be a 
beacon of environmental and social awareness, 
with well thought-out policies on how the 
resources of Dartmoor can best be used for the 
communities that live there, as exemplars of what 
could happen elsewhere? But it seems we are still 
light years from that happy state.

was once a call to ban all cars from Dartmoor

The community had lived quietly and gently in 
Steward Wood since 2000. Their homes had not been 
built by means of large machines scouring the 
earth and replacing the habitats of thousands of 
living creatures with concrete and brick, but had 
grown organically, through the skill of their 
builders, in a symbiotic relationship with the 
other occupants (plants and animals) of the wood.

Despite making it their home since 2000, the 
Dartmoor National Park Authority refused them 
permanent planning permission and ordered them to leave

Some of us were encouraged by a policy (DMD30) in 
the Development Management and Delivery 
Development Plan Document adopted by Dartmoor 
National Park in July 2013, which specifically 
allowed low-impact residential development in the “open countryside”.

Anxious to comply with the criteria in this 
policy, and to address the concerns of the 
Planning Inspector who refused their Appeal in 
2016, in the autumn of 2017 the members of 
Steward Community Woodland submitted a detailed 
proposal to the national park for an imaginative 
new scheme of roundhouses and an “innovation 
centre”, which would be a base for the study of low-impact living.

grief and sadness’ as ‘off the grid’ community is cleared from Dartmoor

Extraordinarily, the response of Dartmoor 
National Park Authority has been negative to an 
extreme (as it has been for the past 17 years).

Sonia “Sonny” Parsons and Daniel Thompson-Mills at Steward Community Woodland

Rather than allowing the application to take its 
course, with opportunity for public comment and 
debate, they would not even validate it.

They claimed that the roundhouse built by two 
members of the community from their own wood, 
straw bales, cob and turf, was not of appropriate 
design or scale for any other structures, and 
would not fit policy DMD30, which, on their 
interpretation, was meant to apply only to tents and yurts.

This is despite Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 
having given permission for many roundhouses of 
similar type. No sensitive person could say that 
the roundhouse in question was not a thing of 
beauty, to be marvelled at for the skills, 
craftsmanship and sound environmental criteria used for its construction.

The Steward Woodland Community – made up of 23 
people, including nine children and teenagers – 
live in hand-built huts on a beauty spot in rural 
Dartmoor with no connection to mains, electricity or water

This story is, sadly, one of overbearing 
authority unable to grasp intellectually or 
practically the benefits to be gained by Dartmoor 
as a whole from the Steward Wood settlement.

How can a planning authority allow controversial 
new housing developments on greenfield sites in 
Chagford and elsewhere, and yet not embrace 
low-impact dwellings by an established and 
respected community in their own woodland, hidden from public gaze?

Many people on and beyond Dartmoor have for years 
recognised and celebrated these contemporary 
woodland dwellers, for the new and hopeful messages they brought all of us.

Part of Steward Community Woodland on Dartmoor, 
which was home to 21 people. The site is being 
cleared after a failed planning appeal

They are inheritors of a marvellously rich 
cultural history, millennia old, contained within 
our Dartmoor woods. Those who know Steward 
Community Woodland, and what it aspired to, 
should seek out David Spero’s wonderful book 
Settlements (2017), which documents 
photographically Steward Wood and other low-impact communities in Britain.

If Dartmoor National Park Authority had adopted a 
similar approach, they would now be extolling the 
virtues of Steward Wood, which would have brought them deserved plaudits.

Their alternative lifestyle includes foraging for 
food, using solar powered electricity and 
alternative medicines – and they claim to be virtually self-sufficient

Unfortunately the present situation indicates 
that Dartmoor National Park Authority actually 
has no deep understanding of the environmental 
crisis affecting our planet, and no flexible will 
to allow serious practitioners the opportunity to 
demonstrate alternative lifestyles.

This is not the sort of cultural behaviour to 
expect from a national park, which should be open 
to all new environmental approaches, and it is 
deeply concerning. We are all diminished, and 
Dartmoor’s soul has lost a spark of hopefulness 
for our future relationship with the land.

Dr Tom Greeves is chairman of 
Dartmoor Society.

POST Building in central London occupied for homeless shelter

 From South America, where payment must be made 
with subtlety, the Bormann organization has made 
a substantial contribution. It has drawn many of 
the brightest Jewish businessmen into a 
participatory role in the development of many of 
its corporations, and many of these Jews share 
their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided 
with a specially dispensed venture capital fund. 
I spoke with one Jewish businessmen in Hartford, 
Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown 
several years before our conversation, but with 
Bormann money as his leverage. Today he is more 
than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits 
earmarked as always for his venture capital 
benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how 
Bormann’s people operate in the contemporary 
commercial world, in contrast to the fanciful 
nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much “literature.”

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish 
participation in Bormann companies that when 
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the 
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires. 
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities 
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen 
again because a repetition would permanently 
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin 
America, as well as with the Bormann 
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish 
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the 
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an 
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most 
efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
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