Eco-home will be icing on the cake for 'Good Life' couple
- Credit: Tracey Scott
Three years after buying a 10-acre small holding, Matt and Tracey Scott’s dream of living ‘off-grid’ has moved forward after securing permission to build their own home.
But this is no traditional house.
The couple hope to self-build a three-bedroom, earth sheltered, almost carbon-zero home at Enchanted Hill at Haddenham
East Cambs Council approved their application after hearing that the house “will be entirely submerged within the earth and the flat roof will be planted to match the surrounding field”.
The couple plan to use innovative design (i.e., submerging the house) as well as technologies such as low water usage restrictors and high-performance insulation.
Heating will be ‘topped up’ on the severest winter nights by a wood burner.
The house will be “set back to follow the contour of the hill, affording a flat glassed terrace to the master bedroom”.
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Enchanted Hill is half a mile between Aldreth and Haddenham and is accessed off the Aldreth Road by a farm track.
Since acquiring the site – and gaining permission to live there in a mobile home – the couple has slowly built up an assortment of pigs, alpacas, sheep, horses', chickens, bees and rabbits.
The pig enterprise includes a herd of eight sows and three boars which produce up to 70 piglets a year for rearing and sale.
All the pigs are rare breed species. The main product is Mangalitza pork and is sold through a Cambridge butcher and onto an associated high-end restaurant.
Tracey and Matt, an electrical contractor, won massive support for their ambitions when the council considered the new home.
“Since its formation in 2017 Enchanted Hill has become a true asset to the local community: environmentally, socially and economically,” wrote one supporter.
“This development will provide essential 24-hour support for the animals on the smallholding as well as provide a home for the owners.
“The sympathetic design of the building means that it will have little to no impact on the surrounding area and views and as it is ‘off grid’ it will not impact on the local services. This building will be an asset to the community”.”
Another felt the eco home will be “environmentally aesthetic” and will set a benchmark on which other such homes could be judged.
One other resident described the plans as “both visionary and environmentally considerate whilst remaining fully sympathetic to its surrounding area”.
And another noted that during the pandemic “it has been fantastic to easily be able to buy eggs and honey locally from Enchanted Hill. The farm has been a great support to locals in this time”.
One family offered praise, too, for Matt and Tracey supporting their son “by allowing him to volunteer on site to help with the welfare of the animals and work on the land.
“Consequently, he has been able to achieve his Duke of Edinburgh award and would have continued on this trajectory if Covid had not halted plans.
“This will have a hugely positive impact on his CV and it is entirely down to the kindness and generosity of the owners.
“My family are extremely supportive of this proposed building as it is both sympathetic to the environment and will have a positive impact on the landscape.”
Tracey, also a parish councillor, says that “from a teenager I’ve been volunteering within Haddenham; I worked at Cares wildlife hospital.
“I adore the village, I’m so happy to finally live in Haddenham after over 20 years of visiting friends here.”
She adds: “I’m very interested in nature and conservation. I’ve planted more than 600 trees in the last year. I’m passionate about caring for animals and wildlife.”
The council was told that couple hope to achieve their new home within a £100,000 budget.
" If much of the work is undertaken by the applicant then it is conceivable that these costs could be achieved,” says the report.
“The agent suggests that this is indicative of a dynamic business format, in the recent unprecedented times.
“Farm shops and local produce have generally fared much better in this pandemic than other forms of retail and again this is a positive outcome for the applicants.”
Tracey added that she was immensely grateful to the support from the village.
“It is lovely to have such encouraging warm comments,” she added.
FOOTNOTE: The couple’s ambitions are reminiscent of the 1970s sitcom The Good Life that starred Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall. They played a couple who decided to escape the ‘rat race’ and become self-sufficient. The differences maybe end there. The Good Life was set in a house – and garden – in Surbiton.