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When will stage 1 be released for sale?
The Witchcliffe Ecovillage is currently moving through the WA Planning Commission structure planning process. Once approved, the project will then proceed to subdivision application stage. We hope to begin bulk construction works on site in late 2017, with Stage 1 sales beginning once all approvals are finalised.
Can I design and build my own home?
There will be developer built sustainable house and land packages available, however new owners can choose to design and build their own homes, as owner builders or with a licenced builder. House designs will need to conform to the Witchcliffe Ecovillage sustainable building design guidelines, which will be available prior to subdivision.
Will we be required to build our sustainable home within a certain timeframe?
Yes, there’s nothing worse than buying and building in a master planned community like this and having vacant lots next door for ever and living in a never ending construction site! Purchasers will be required to complete construction within three years of purchase.
Who will own the Witchcliffe Ecovillage agricultural lots?
The agricultural lots will be available for purchase in Stage 2 to Ecovillage residents only, with the potential of leasehold arrangements with the developer during Stage 1. If you are interested in becoming one of the Witchcliffe Ecovillage’s organic farmers, please contact us
Can I have a pet in the Witchcliffe Ecovillage?
In time, we hope the whole Witchcliffe Ecovillage will become a safe haven for many local wildlife species, like endangered Western ringtail possums and Baudin’s white tailed black cockatoos, already visitors in our remnant bushland. In order to protect the wildlife in the Ecovillage open spaces and conservation zones, we have made the difficult decision to exclude cats from the Ecovillage, and we will also include requirements in the Ecovillage strata bylaws to ensure that dogs are kept contained within private yards during the day, are on leads in communal areas, and are inside houses at night. Residents will have the added benefit of knowing that they’re not going to be bothered by neighbours’ barking dogs at night time!
What is the land tenure and governance structure for the Ecovillage?
The Witchcliffe Ecovillage has been designed as a survey strata development. All lots will have survey strata titles, and all lot owners will own a percentage of the common land and infrastructure. The WA Department of Land is currently engaged in a reform of the Strata Titles Act (1950), which includes the development of a new type of Strata Title called a Community Title Scheme. The reform legislation has recently been approved by the WA Government in order for it to be considered by Parliament. We intend to use the Community Title Scheme if it is approved and ready in 2017.
How will the Witchcliffe Ecovillage manage water sustainably?
The Witchcliffe Ecovillage will manage the complete water cycle on site from the rain that falls on site. No scheme water will be brought onto the site and no wastewater will be piped away. Rainwater will be collected and stored for use in houses, landscaping and agriculture. Our wastewater will be treated and reused on site, with environmental flows provided to creeks down stream to assist in restoring and preserving natural habitats.
What is the Witchcliffe Ecovillage water footprint?
While many of us take food miles into account when shopping, how many of us think about food litres, and about the impact of taking those litres of water from the place they originated? If it’s not visible to us, in our “backyard,” we don’t tend to think about the water that grows our food.
The average consumer connected to mains water in WA’s South West uses around 150 litres per person per day in the house, however, this is only a small part of an individual’s total water footprint, which includes water for landscaping, industry, power generation, and food production and processing. In Australia, we have one of the highest water consumption footprints in the world, and a large proportion of that water is used to grow the food we eat. Michael Mobbs, Australian author of Sustainable Food, says that it takes an additional 10,000 litres of water per day to produce the food consumed by the average Australian. http://www.foodwise.com.au/michael-mobbs-talks-sustainable-food/
We initially planned the Witchcliffe Ecovillage water budget based on individual usage of 150 litres per person per day within the home, consistent with WA Health Department requirements; however, a water consumption of 100 litres per person per day can be achieved without impacting lifestyle simply through using AAA rated appliances in each house.
The water used for food production at Witchcliffe Ecovillage will be approximately 400 litres per person per day, captured, biologically filtered and stored in dams from stormwater runoff from roads and roofs, and piped back to community gardens and agriculture using solar energy. If the majority of residents’ fresh food consumption comes from the Ecovillage community gardens and farm, then their water footprint for food will be vastly reduced compared to the Australian average.
Where does water for food production in the Ecovillage come from?
In the south-west of WA, we experience wet winters and dry summers, so we need to collect and store water during winter to enable food production throughout the year. We will capture the rainwater that will run off the impervious surfaces of the village—roads, paths, roofs—and store it in dams so that residents can grow fresh organic food in the community gardens and agricultural land all year long. Surplus food will be sold through the ecovillage cafes, restaurants, and food hub, to provide agribusiness and employment and fresh organic food for residents and locals. We have allowed for an average irrigation of 10mm per day for food production on agricultural land and in community gardens between November and March.
Are the Witchcliffe Ecovillage dams sustainable?
Our dams have been designed to be highly sustainable, with the majority of water that is collected and used being generated by increased stormwater runoff within the dam catchment.
Urban development creates considerable additional stormwater flow due to all of the impervious layers, like roads, footpaths and rooftops, even in a project like the Witchcliffe Ecovillage which has around 78% public open space and agricultural land. The total additional rainwater runoff created by the urbanisation at the Ecovillage, in the average year (post 2000), is 210,000,000 litres, while the total dam capacity is only 190,000,000 litres. This ensures that natural flows down stream of the Ecovillage are maintained.
In addition to storing runoff from urban development, our dams will be constructed with low flow bypass pipes that are larger than recommended by the WA Department of Water, so that downstream waterways receive flows before the dams start overflowing in winter. The dams will also buffer the downstream environment from the additional stormwater runoff created by the Ecovillage roads and roofs, and provide a more consistent streamflow, preventing extreme flow events which have the potential to cause erosion and flash flooding.
How will the Witchcliffe Ecovillage manage stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff in a natural ecosystem is intercepted by tree canopies, the plant understory, and the mulch layer, which slows the water moving through the ecosystem, increasing absorption of the water by the soil, and maximizing the water available for transpiration.
In an urban environment, water runs off hard surfaces such as roads, driveways, paths and roofs quickly with very little absorption. Landscaping in an urban area slows down runoff and increases infiltration, but usually not as effectively as a natural system. Runoff from agricultural land varies depending on the way the land is managed and plantations can reduce stormwater runoff but many agricultural uses such as pasture and vineyards result in increased stormwater runoff.
At the Witchcliffe Ecovillage, we have designed a series of raingardens, wetlands and water storages that will intercept stormwater runoff, slowing its movement through the village, filtering sediment and stripping any nutrients before flowing into downstream watercourses or being captured and stored in tanks and dams for use throughout the year. The water storages will help to manage the flow of water from the Witchcliffe Ecovillage site, more closely replicating pre land clearing flows.
How were the Witchcliffe Ecovillage stormwater flows calculated?
We have calculated predevelopment flows based on data from the nearest Department of Water stream gauging station in the Upper Chapman Brook catchment. Approximately 30% of rainfall from the sub catchment is recorded as streamflow.
Post development flows are estimated based on well-established stormwater design principals documented in national guidelines, such as Australian Rainfall and Runoff, with local data for rainfall intensity and duration obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology Witchcliffe weather station, which is currently located on the Witchcliffe Ecovillage site.