When can we visit the Ecovillage site?
Western Australia’s Coronavirus recovery strategy is achieving good results and social restrictions continue to ease accordingly, which is great news for us. We will continue to follow government health advice but hope to be able to resume Ecovillage presentations and site tours in the coming months after we open for Stage 1 sales in June 2020.
It is with great disappointment that we had to cancel all presentations and tours originally planned for March, April and May, following government health advice to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. At present, we plan to offer lots in Stage 1 for pre-sale to the market in June 2020. Detailed information about the sales process will be published here when confirmed. We plan to reinstate presentations and site tours as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so, hopefully in June 2020.
In lieu of presentations at this stage, we have uploaded a series of handbooks to our Document Library covering the Ecovillage’s key themes (water, energy, land ownership, etc.,) in greater detail.
We have put together a series of handbooks covering the Ecovillage’s key themes and important topics for prospective purchasers including PROJECT OVERVIEW, WATER, OWNERSHIP, BUILDING YOUR HOME and RESIDENTIAL ENERGY (still to come). These are published in our Document Library alongside the DRAFT Building Design Guidelines (March 2020) and the Local Development Plans.
At present, we plan to offer lots in Stage 1 for pre-sale to the market in mid June 2020. Detailed information about the sales process will be published here.
Titles for Stage 1 lots will be issued by Landgate once construction is finished and all subdivision conditions have been cleared by the relevant authorities (AMR Shire, Western Power, Main Roads, WA Health Department, etc.) We anticipate this will be towards the end of 2020.
The deposit for purchase of an Ecovillage lot is $5,000. Deposits are non-refundable, as per standard land sales contracts. However, if you experience financial hardship or personal circumstances that make it difficult for you to settle on your lot, we will endeavour to work with you to agree on a solution to help you continue with your Ecovillage purchase.
We released Stage 1 lot prices in February 2020 with this announcement, which included detailed information about the sustainability features that are included with each Family, Cottage and Groupie lot available in Stage 1.
You can download cluster plans for 1A, 1B and 1C with lot prices on the Lot Types and Pricing page.
There are 11 different lot types varying considerably in size, scope, use and price. We will release more information about subsequent lot types as we progress through the project.
The short answer is no. We have started civil construction on Stage 1 and the site is now under the management of our civil contractor Wormall Civil. Strict safety protocols are now in place and no-one is allowed on site without appropriate clearances and safety PPE.
Due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations and for the health and safety of our staff, we are no longer able to welcome you to visit the Witchcliffe Ecovillage (Sustainable Settlements) office. If you have any sales enquiries, please call the office on (08) 9757 6688 or email [email protected]
We have mapped out a draft staging plan for construction of the Ecovillage but it will be subject to change according to the rate of sales and market conditions.
However, due to strong demand in Stage 1, we plan to roll into civil works of Stages 2 and 3 as soon as weather permits in spring 2020, and sales will follow suit.
Yes. There is no membership or vetting process for buying in the Ecovillage, only an assumption of shared values and sustainability principles. We hope to see the development of a diverse community of like-minded, caring people.
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. Visit the Land Ownership page for more information.
Very little in comparison to the average home (no power or water bills). There will be strata fees, AMR Shire rates and wastewater service fees that will be similar to a standard WaterCorp connection.
For detailed information, read our Ownership Handbook
Lot Types & Uses
We envisage the agricultural lots will be used for high value, small scale commercial horticulture crops. They 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 on [email protected].
In future, agricultural lots owned by Ecovillage residents will be able to be sold separately to non-Ecovillage residents. Strata by-laws for those lots will ensure that future agricultural operations remain consistent with the Ecovillage’s objectives.
We will be releasing commercial lots (to Ecovillage residents only initially) to coincide with the development of each stage in the Ecovillage. Strata by-laws for those lots will ensure that future commercial operations remain consistent with the Ecovillage’s objectives.
If you are interested in purchasing an Ecovillage commercial lot, please contact us at [email protected]
Yes, this is allowed by the ‘Village Centre’ zoning that we have used for our commercial lots. Refer to Ecovillage Structure Plan - Land Use Map
Yes, ‘Village Centre’ zoning in the Shire provides a range of permitted uses (refer AMR Shire Local Planning Scheme No. 1, specifically the zoning table on pages 38-42). In addition, our commercial lots are survey strata lots with strata bylaws to ensure that businesses are guided by the overall sustainability themes and objectives of the Ecovillage.
This will depend on the various businesses that start up in the commercial precinct, the Village Square and on the agricultural and tourism lots. However, we anticipate the following goods and services will be required by the Ecovillage community and its local and international visitors:
- Commercial lots: bakery, café, food processing, childcare centre, bulk food shop, heath food, health centre, permaculture nursery, alternative technology centre, EV (car and/or bike) sharing service.
- Village Square tavern and café.
- Creative Hub: office spaces, café, artists studios, film/photography/music studio.
- Mixed Use “Shop Top” retail and residential lots: retail shops, art and craft studios, professional offices, health care providers.
- Agricultural lots: Market gardens, fruit orchards, berries, garlic, hops, etc.
- Tourism / Short Stay accommodation / backpackers: providing a range of eco-tourism accommodation options to allow visitors to experience Ecovillage life and attend events and courses.
- Home businesses: a wide variety of home businesses are permitted within Residential zoning in the Shire (see AMR Shire Local Planning Scheme No. 1).
- Food Hub: organic packing shed, commercial kitchens, value adding and food processing, etc.
Historically, ecovillages around the world attract visitors from near and far who come to learn about sustainable living and be inspired by ecovillage community life.
In order to manage the impact of visitors to the Witchcliffe Ecovillage and, at the same time, provide an additional income stream for Ecovillage businesses, we have provided sites throughout the Ecovillage for low impact, eco-tourism opportunities. These tourism locations are located outside of the residential clusters and will be managed to ensure a positive impact on the residential Ecovillage community.
Renting, Rentals and Investments
Yes! We encourage investment in rental properties and have had many enquiries from people who would like to rent a house in the Ecovillage. Like any leased strata property in WA, your tenants must receive a copy of the Strata Management Statement and Bylaws and comply with these regulations (e.g. no cats, etc.) These documents will be made available in the Document Library soon.
This is dependent on the home’s location and the type of accommodation being offered. Please refer to the Augusta Margaret River Shire’s Local Planning Policy 7 - Short Stay Accommodation for specific details.
However, in short, accomodation meeting the Shire’s criteria for ‘Bed and Breakfast’ is allowed. Homes that are located within the 50m radius of a Village Centre zone are permitted to be used as a ‘Holiday Home’. Only a handful of lots within the Ecovillage meet this criteria as per the Village Centre zone on the Ecovillage Structure Plan - Land Use Map.
This is no longer permitted anywhere in the Shire. Please read the Augusta Margaret River Shire Local Planning Policy 7 - Short Stay Accommodation for more details.
Yes we anticipate there will be rental homes available through private owners / investors. There are no limitations on investors who wish to buy any lot type and build a long term rental and we have had interest from people wishing to do so. The Ecovillage developers will not own or offer any long term rental homes for lease. Read the Groupie Lot Eligibility Criteria for further information about Groupie lots, which are the Ecovillage’s most affordable housing option.
We are receptive to the purchase of Ecovillage land by a co-housing group with the view to establishing a project that would provide an alternative ownership model (secure permanent rental, rent to buy, etc.,) but currently have no resources to put towards this ourselves.
If you are a co-housing group ready to discuss purchase of land, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are interested in learning more about Co-housing in WA please visit Greenfabric and Co-Operation Housing WA.
Building Your Home
The purpose of the Witchcliffe Ecovillage Sustainable Building Design Guidelines (BDGs) is to ensure that the built form and landscaping of the Ecovillage reflects the strong vision of sustainability and the rural village character set for the development. They provide straightforward guidelines that apply to all residential buildings in the Ecovillage. They will help owners, designers and builders create aesthetically harmonious buildings that are solar passive, efficient, affordable, and comfortable to live and work in.
Yes. New owners can choose to design and build their own homes, as owner builders or with a licensed builder. House designs will need to conform to the Ecovillage Sustainable Building Design Guidelines.
We will also offer a range of sustainable house designs for a variety of lot types. When these designs are finalised and costed, they will be made available here on the Ecovillage website.
We are forming a guild of local builders each of whom we have asked to create three house designs for the Groupie, Cottage and Family lots in readiness for Stage 1. Importantly, these builders have been fully briefed on the Ecovillage Sustainability Building Design Guidelines (BDGs) and all house designs will conform to these mandatory requirements.
The Ecovillage house designs will also be fully costed and all inclusive prices for a complete Ecovillage home, making it a super easy, affordable and sustainable option for future residents. This includes everything from rainwater tanks to carports as well as a complete Ecovillage energy package (solar PVs, inverter, smart meter and heat pump.)
We hope to finalise these designs and prices in May 2020 at which time we will display them on our website. Please note that House & Land Packages comprise two separate contracts: one with the developers for the sale of the lot and one with the builder for the house build.
Alternatively, owners can design and build their own home using their own architect or designer as long as it meets the sustainability requirements outlined in the BDGs.
Yes. There’s nothing worse than buying and building in a master planned community like this and having vacant lots next door forever and living in a never-ending construction site.
All lot purchasers will be required to start building their home within 18 months of settlement and complete building within three years.
However, we are cognisant of the challenging circumstances that COVID-19 has created for prospective purchasers. Therefore we are willing to consider an extension to this timeframe in extenuating circumstances and ask that you contact us to discuss your situation.
All Lifestyle, Family and Cottage lots (more than 450sqm) are zoned to allow residents to build an ancillary dwelling (granny flat) for personal use. However, it must be noted that these ancillary dwellings cannot be used for short stay accommodation, such as through Airbnb, as per current AMR Shire planning regulations. Refer to Local Planning Policy 7 - Short Stay Accommodation
You can find individual lot dimensions on the Stage 1 community garden cluster plans, which you can download here. However, in general, most fit within the following scope:
Family: 20m x 50m
Cottage: 15m x 30m
Groupie: 12m x 30m
Lifestyle: 28m x 57m
Mixed Use: 8m x 41m
To ensure optimum solar gain for every lot, regardless of size, we have included building setbacks on the north of every lot. Substantial rainwater tanks are needed for every dwelling and the footprint size of these, which relate directly to the roof size and occupancy, must be factored into lot design.
Hence for the smaller lots, such as the Groupies, we need to be more prescriptive as to where the major structures are placed. However, on the Family lots where there is more space, rainwater tanks may be allowed on the community garden boundary, for example.
This information and more is outlined in the Local Development Plans in concert with the Building Design Guidelines, which are on the Document Library.
Yes, although they are more expensive to purchase and install than an above ground tank. They may be useful on a smaller lot to maximise space and can be engineered to be load bearing so can be incorporated underneath a carport, etc.
Sustainable Settlements (the developer) will provide residents with a suite of documents, including the Building Design Guidelines, Strata By-Laws and Community Garden Handbook, that enshrine our sustainability principles. They will offer practical advice on everything from building materials to garden pest control, do’s and don’ts, resources and recommend governance frameworks, such as conflict resolution and communication tools.
Ultimately, it will be up to the community as a whole to work together in a way that honours the shared values of sustainability that brought it together in the first place.
The clusters will become micro-communities within the larger Ecovillage community and will govern themselves according to the Strata By-Laws, which enshrine our sustainability principles and provide practical guidance on matters such as committee organisation, conflict resolution and communication. We hope that as a socially diverse community of cooperative, caring and like-minded people, we will be able to work through issues demonstrating respect and tolerance.
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, cats are excluded (a provision in AMR Shire Local Planning Scheme No. 1 restricts ownership of cats in the Ecovillage). We will also include requirements in the Ecovillage strata bylaws to ensure that dogs are kept inside buildings at night to avoid disruptive barking and minimise impacts on nocturnal wildlife.
Chickens and ducks will be allowed to be kept by residents in appropriate housing on their private blocks and, it is expected, they will also be integrated into the community gardens.
Horses are not allowed anywhere on the Ecovillage (including the agricultural lots) but there are many farms and stables surrounding the Ecovillage providing agistment in the area.
All houses must be designed to Silver Performance Level as set out in the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines to ensure wheelchair accessibility to all homes.
All internal path networks will be paved in concrete to ensure easy wheelchair and pram accessibility. There will be tactile pavement markers at major paths to road intersections and bollard downlights throughout the path network for night time accessibility.
- Building waste management and stockpiling
- Wastewater treatment and irrigation to grow avocados and mulch
- Community compost bays
- Recycling and general waste collected by Shire.
- Opportunities for community re-use and up-cycling—jar and bottle banks for preserving, clothes swaps, bulk food shop for refillable containers, arts and crafts upcycling, etc.
- Reduced recycling and waste generated by households due to food grown on site.
You are responsible for managing your Exclusive Use Garden Area (EUA), so if you are not a keen gardener, try and choose a smaller lot with a smaller EUA. You can offer the use of your EUA to a neighbour if you like, or plant it out with easy care perennial herbs and flowers (lavender, thyme, lemongrass, roses for rosehips, etc) and/or low maintenance fruit trees like feijoas, citrus and figs. The main thing is to ensure that it is an attractive productive space, even if it’s just full of flowers and herbs for the bees.
The strata bylaws will mandate that pesticides and herbicides, which are not permitted by the Australian organic standards, cannot be used on Ecovillage lots or community garden areas. Further, we plan to write a Witchcliffe Ecovillage Garden Handbook with growing guides and planting advice, which will be provided to lot purchasers when their community garden is established.