Why no support or solidarity organised for Steward Wood?
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Fri Mar 30 11:57:07 BST 2018
STEWARD COMMUNITY WOODLAND: PART OF DARTMOORS
SOUL KILLED BY AN OVERBEARING AUTHORITY
Why are all forms of alternative living,
including canal and gypsies/travellers being
actively suppressed by the UKs 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 Speros 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
Dartmoors soul has lost a spark of hopefulness
for our future relationship with the land.
Dr Tom Greeves is chairman of
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
Bormanns 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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