“Wisdom begins in wonder.”

Socrates

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Have some questions?

Below is a compilation of the various questions we have been asked about Bruns Eco Village. We hope this gives you a comprehensive overview of the proposed village. If you have any further questions please send them to askbev@brunsecovillage.com.au.


Design Structure of the Eco Village

1. What physical structure will Bruns Eco Village take?

The model we propose is an eco village made up of housing clusters that each contains a number of dwellings and a common house. The eco village will have community orchards and gardens separating each cluster. There will be a community hub with a restaurant, a café and community space, a living sustainable school, a wellness precinct and a commercial area for business and light industrial use. All of this will be contained on a parcel of land of approximately 105 acres.

Each housing cluster or hamlet will have its own micro-community with a unique identity and shared values. A common area will provide combined resources for all to use.

All members of the community will benefit from the extensive community facilities, such as a school, gardens and natural areas that are managed by the co-op. Bruns Eco Village will be a truly sustainable village that utilises and recycles its waste within its boundaries, produces its own energy and food and provides a holistic living experience for the residents and the wider community.

Intentional clusters that cater for younger people, families and older people will be included to ensure the village provides inter-generational sustainable living.

 

2. To what extent can individuals have input on the design?

Participants of the Village Development Program will have a certain degree of design input in their cluster as well as the overall design of the village. To maintain efficiency and to work within a realistic budget, design will mainly be determined by the Bruns Eco Village architects.

 

3. What is the dwelling density of the village?

The land footprint and topography that is allocated to each cluster will have an overarching influence on dwelling density. Cluster design will also determine density to some extent. We are aware of people's varying needs for individual space and this will be considered in detail in the transition from public to private areas.

 

4. What kind of school is being built?

Bruns Eco Village is putting aside land within the co-op to build a school. We’re currently in conversation with John Stewart, (former Head of Green School Bali, educational disrupter, consultant and international speaker) to establish a progressive holistic educational campus within the eco village. This will consist of an alternative education model using sustainable and holistic practices.

 

Legal Structure of the Eco Village

5. What is the legal structure of the Bruns Eco Village?

The land is intended to be what is commonly known as a Community Land Trust (CLT) that will be run and maintained by a non-distributing co-operative. Bruns Eco Village is currently registered as an Incorporated Association with the intention of at the appropriate time, bringing the association under the provisions of the Co-operatives National Law.

 

6. What is a community land trust?

A community land trust (CLT) is a non-profit, community-based organisation that works to provide continuous affordable living opportunities. A CLT acquires land in order to remove it from the for-profit, real estate market. It is democratically controlled and uses the property it owns to provide benefits to its community and to make housing available to residents who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

 

The Alternative Ownership Model (AOM)

7. How does the proposed Alternative Ownership Model work?

The Bruns Eco Village is currently adopting an ownership model that involves long-term leases. Residents will apply for a lease of a dwelling from the Co-operative. It is anticipated that the leases will be life tenancies (a tenancy that is in place until the tenant dies or moves out). This will allow you, the resident, similar rights as ownership on the use of the dwelling as well as the ability to live within the eco village.

Residents will pay a monthly rental to the co-op for the term of their lease. The amount will depend on the size of house being leased. An initial bond will also be required.

Rents will not increase over the period of the lease. However it will be adjusted each year to match inflation levels (which is an average of around 2%).

The AOM provides security to you as a resident as the co-op can only change or remove the conditions of the model under extreme circumstances. If changes are being requested by the co-op you will be entitled to challenge them, as you would a broken lease in a tenancy arrangement.

As a resident you can also be an investor in the village co-op. This gives you the opportunity to use your investment returns to reduce your rent. Depending on the amount you invest, you could theoretically reduce your rent to nothing or even receive a net positive payment from the co-op for living here!

 

8. Why the Alternative Ownership Model?

The alternative ownership model was chosen for the following reasons:

  • The land is owned by the co-operative and therefore by the community, not by one or two individuals or a selected power-base.
  • By keeping the land in a Community Land Trust it cannot be sold or speculated upon and therefore is owned by the community permanently. In this way it provides long-term security for the community.
  • Alternative ownership agreements (or long term leases) prevent residents from having full ownership rights, as opposed to other arrangements such as community title or strata title. Ownership rights can often lead to disaffected residents seeking legal action against the co-op, which can then force segmentation or fragmentation of ownership or control. By eliminating ownership this allows the co-operative to function as a community.
  • The AOM allows each member and resident to go through a thorough process before becoming a member or resident, where they get to check out the community and the community gets to check them out to determine if both are a good fit for each other. This provides safety to residents and provides mechanisms to remove residents that are harmful to the community if all other avenues fail.
  • The AOM provides affordability. Without lease agreements, separate titles and ownership would create an avenue for speculation and unaffordable price increases, effectively selecting residents based on the amount of money they have rather than their character and willingness to live in community. The Byron Shire is one of the most unaffordable places to live in Australia and there are currently no affordable housing options available within the Shire.
  • The AOM provides flexibility to residents in that entering or exiting the community is not a lengthy or expensive process and does not require external authorities or agencies.
  • The AOM does not require mortgage repayments or banks and therefore provides more ethical ways of managing funds
  • The AOM ensures all residents are subject to the same conditions and benefits as everyone else, and so provides equality.
  • The AOM fosters community as all members/residents have the ability to participate in decisions on how the community land will be used.
  • Using the AOM there should be no confusion around ownership of buildings, land or assets within the eco village.
  • The AOM provides a model of care-taking the land rather than owning the land, which is more aligned with the indigenous way of living.

 

9. Will I be able to build my own house at Bruns Eco Village?

Under the structure discussed above, the Bruns Eco Village co-op will build all houses and facilities within the eco village and will have ownership of these buildings.

  • The co-op intends to build homes using architecturally designed templates that will significantly reduce the cost of construction and ultimately the cost of living.
  • Initial residents will be able to choose from a number of designs.
  • Residents will however have input into the design of the house and cluster they intend to live in.
  • Residents can modify their home (with some limitations) at their own cost, and subject to approval from the community, once they are living in it.
  • All designs will be at minimum 7-star rated, solar passive and built with environmentally friendly materials.
  • There may be an opportunity to be involved in the building of your selected house. If so you may be able to use that labour as a credit towards your future lease payments.

 

10. How is the Bruns Eco Village going to be funded?

The Bruns Eco Village co-op requires investment to buy the land, build all proposed dwellings, community facilities and infrastructure. The eco village will be built in stages so the full funds are not required up front. Over time the need for investors will get less, as income from residential leases will allow the co-op to fund itself.

Funds will be sourced from three avenues:

1. Initial bond

All members who apply for a residential lease in the eco village will need to pay a bond to the co-op. This initial funding will be used to buy the land from the current owner and transfer ownership to the eco village co-op.

When residents leave the eco village their bond will be refunded to them (less any damage expenses if necessary) using the new bond received from the incoming residents. Bonds may be increased over time according to the co-op’s discretion with a mandate that they remain affordable.

2. Resident investors

Residents of the eco village who also invest in the co-op will provide funds to build the village while also getting a return either in the form of reduced rent or investment return payments.

3. Investors

Initial investors in the project will be members of the co-op but not residents of the eco village. They will receive a return annually on their investment from the leases payments made by residents.

 

11. Can I consider my Bruns Eco Village home as a financial investment?

The Bruns Eco Village Alternative Ownership Model provides people with a lifetime lease over their home with a fixed rent. However as residents do not purchase their home they cannot sell it in the future. This is to avoid investment properties on the eco village and to remove the homes from the speculative real estate market where prices can be driven upwards and out of reach of potential residents.

Income generated from leases (after investors have been paid) will be accumulated by the co-op and re-invested into village projects that benefit residents.

 

The people behind the eco village

12. Who are the people behind Bruns Eco Village?

The eco village is coming into being due to the hard work of a core group of people who are offering their unique skills and experience to the project. You can read more about the Bruns Eco Village Working Group here.

Bruns Eco Village is also partnering with Bioregional Australia and Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Australia. You can read more about our partners here.

 

Ways to be involved

13. I’d like to get involved. What are the steps?

The first step towards becoming a resident of the Bruns Eco Village is to participate in the Village Development Program. The current Village Development Program has been fully subscribed and is now underway. It will run from September 2015 to December 2017. However if you would like to participate in any future Village Development Programs please register for updates.

If you would like to become an investor in the Bruns Eco Village project contact us to discuss investment options.

 

14. Is there a limit on the number of people who can register to live in Bruns Eco Village?

There is no limit to the number of people who can register to take part in the Village Development Program. However there will be a limit to how many people can apply to be a member of Bruns Eco Village co-op and live within Bruns Eco Village.

The number of houses available within Bruns Eco Village determines this limit. The total population of Bruns Eco Village will be guided by the constraints of the site.

Only people who have completed the Village Development Program will be eligible for a lease under the Alternative Ownership Model.

 

15. What if I decide not to join the Bruns Eco Village co-operative after participating in the Village Development Program and other processes?

The Village Development Program is a valuable training in its own right where you get to experience a unique and powerful process of community building and education. You will receive a certificate for attending the program, which can be used to apply for Bruns Eco Village in the future and can be referred to in your personal achievements. The materials obtained and teachings learned from the Village Development Program may assist you in developing your own community or project in the future.

You are very welcome to continue to be involved peripherally with Bruns Eco Village if you wish by attending various activities initiated by the village. You may also invest in the co-operative without living there.

 

16. When can people move into Bruns Eco Village?

Current timelines suggest that it will be mid 2018 before house building starts at Bruns Eco Village. The village may be developed in stages or by clusters with a certain amount of dwellings constructed each year.

Bonds and lease arrangements can be arranged before building begins to secure your place and your home as a resident in the village.

 

Village Development Program (VDP)

17. What is the Village Development Program?

The Village Development Program is a complete education package for living in community. It is open to potential residents of Bruns Eco Village and will provide a training and experience in its own right to those who are interested in community living.

  • The program provides basic training in essential processes for living in community (conflict resolution, decision-making, social dynamics) and explores the expectations residents may have from the eco village.
  • We will introduce participants to eco village models around the world, reveal the practices that have worked most successfully and share why Bruns Eco Village has chosen certain models.
  • The current Village Development Program will allow participants to provide input into the social design of Bruns Eco Village and how the eco village is structured
  • The current program will also start the process of creating community and will allow participants to form relationships with other participants that intend to live in the eco village.

Please note: Anyone who would like to apply to be a resident of Bruns Eco Village must complete the Village Development Program. Without completing the program you will not be eligible to enter into a lease with Bruns Eco Village or become a member of the co-op.

 

18. Is the Village Development Program only for future residents of the Eco village?

TheVillage Development Program is primarily focused on the creation of the community for Bruns Eco Village but is also open to people seeking to broaden their experience and education in Eco village generally. The tools and processes throughout the Village Development Program can also be applied to any community creation process and include skills that can be used in many different life situations.

 

19. Are there future Village Development Programs planned?

There are plans to conduct an intensive shorter format Village Development Program in early 2018 once the current Village Development Program has completed. The future Village Development Program will not include a design or community creation element as the community and village design will be established during the current 15-month Village Development Program.

 

20. What are the benefits of participating in the Village Development Program?

All participants who complete the Village Development Program will be eligible to apply for residency within the Eco Village at any stage in the future.

Participants of the Village Development Program are eligible to become residents of the future village and members of the future co-operative. They will therefore be involved in decisions made by the co-op about the village.