After spending a decade in planning, the developers of the Witchcliffe Ecovillage were thrilled to recently receive approval from the Economic Regulation Authority and the Department of Health for the Ecovillage wastewater treatment facility.
This crucial final step in the approvals process paves the way for Stage 1 civil works to commence early in the new year on this ground-breaking sustainable residential development.
"It's been an incredible amount of work and a long time coming, and the only hurdle left at this point is acceptable approval of our civil designs by the AMR Shire, which we hope to have in the next week.
Once that's received the Ecovillage will be full steam ahead," said Mike Hulme, director of Sustainable Settlements and founder of the project.
The development will be self-sufficient in renewable energy, water and fresh food produce, and developers say the community is expected to comprise around 1,000 people "who want to be part of a community that is doing its best to live as sustainably as possible, without compromising comfort, privacy, amenity or affordability".
"We never anticipated it would take as much time as it has to gain all of the necessary approvals but pioneering a new project of this scale that is so different to the norm was never going to be easy," Mr Hulme said.
"While the bureaucratic processes have been incredibly difficult to navigate, the team has had to prove every element of the project, which has been a good outcome for residents. The time it's taken has also had a positive effect on the Ecovillage as we've made continual improvements over 10 years, particularly in renewable technologies like batteries and micro-grids."
"We started out with the dream of building a village that was the most sustainable community we could achieve in this day and age, one that would be 100 per cent self-sufficient in renewable energy, water and fresh food produce, and that was also affordable for most people that lived in our region.
"We're going to achieve all of these goals and more, for example, all of our homes are going to be carbon negative," he said.
The Ecovillage will showcase world class renewable technologies and sustainable infrastructure, such as large-scale Tesla batteries in each residential cluster, micro-grids, electric vehicle chargers, dams for irrigating the extensive gardens and public open space, NBN fibre to the premises, and community gardens.
The developers say the plans will ensure future residents are not only sustainable but will achieve significant savings in their cost of living when it comes to energy, water and fresh food produce.
The project has had an extraordinary response from people all over the world, including the UK, Israel, USA, South Africa, New Zealand and across Australia.
The developers say many have been waiting to build in the Ecovillage for years and some have already moved to the area from interstate in readiness for Stage 1.
"We are so grateful for the support and encouragement of the Margaret River community, our loyal followers and our incredible business partners, the Perron Group, without whom we wouldn't have got this far," said Mr Hulme.
The development team is planning to celebrate the launch of the project with an Open Day early in the new year coinciding with the commencement of Stage 1 construction and lot sales, for which it has a registration list of hundreds of prospective buyers.
Stage 1 will include construction of 64 Family, Cottage and Groupie lots in three residential community garden clusters, as well as the Village Square, tavern, backpackers accommodation and public open space.
Prices for lots will range from $120,000 to $300,000 each.
Visit www.ecovillage.net.au for more information.
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