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Scottish architects welcome 'empowering' new hutting laws

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Architects in Scotland have praised new red-tape-slashing legislation making it easier to build huts for recreational use

The new laws, which came into force on 1 July, exempt huts from most Building Regulations apart from some basic areas, including structure and underground drainage.

Scotland has a long tradition of ‘hutting’, building huts to use as rural retreats. 

The legislation also reduces the need for a Building Warrant, providing the required regulations are met. 

Lee Ivett, director of architectural practice Baxendale, praised the legislation for giving architects greater power in hut-building.

‘The legislation is extremely empowering and can hopefully be a catalyst for a much-needed culture of “can do”,’ he said. ‘It has the potential to empower local communities and also empower emerging and early career architects as well.

‘Regulations and bureaucracy have been a consistent barrier which either halts or lengthens what should be a simple and quick process that is as much about the experience of participating in making as it is about the completed object.’

Ivett added that he hoped the new legislation would also encourage hut-building in towns and cities. He said that, with the new legislation, his practice hoped to ‘keep exploring’ the delivery of Scottish huts or ‘bothies’ on urban sites, having completed one last year. 

He also said he hoped this legislation might to ‘help fill a gap between small activist interventions at a local level and larger-scale development’.

Ann Nisbet of Ann Nisbet Studio said her practice would have benefited from the legislation on a small microhome project, had it been in place a year ago. 

In Scottish planning policy, a hut is defined as a simple building used ‘intermittently as recreational accommodation’, which has an internal floor area of no more than 30m² and is constructed from low-impact materials. It should generally not be connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage; and should be built in such a way that it is ‘removable with little or no trace at the end of its life’. Huts may be built singly or in groups.

However, Moxon Architects director Ben Addy said that despite an increase in ‘hutting’ enquiries, he did not expect to see a wave of new huts in Scotland. 

‘The extra freedom this brings is to be welcomed,’ he said, ‘although I don’t expect we will see the blossoming of a Scottish summerhouse culture per the Nordic tradition just yet – in part due to the concentrated nature of Scottish land ownership and also the fact that planning permission will still be required. 

‘I can see more in the way of huts being available for holiday lets; we have certainly seen an increase in enquiries along these lines, and this may have been partly in anticipation of this legislation.’ 

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