We could fill this page with the myriad questions we’re asked on a daily basis about this complex and unique project. Many of the answers already lie within the pages of this website but these FAQs are focused on the most common questions and the harder to find snippets of info. 

Sales Information

What lots are left in Stages 1 and 2?

We’ve had an incredible response to our sales launch of Stage 1 in May and Stage 2 in September. Lots are selling strongly, which is based entirely on word of mouth and our website. Click here to see what lots are still available.

When will Stage 3 lots, pricing and plans be released?

Our plan is to release each new stage as the previous stage is close to selling out. We anticipate releasing Stage 3 lots (clusters 3A and 3B) in April 2021. We have not finalised our pricing or plans for Stage 3 so we are not taking lot reservations yet. Keep an eye on the website and newsletter for further updates.

I would like to visit the Ecovillage. Are you running any site tours or presentations?

Yes, we are scheduling regular sales presentations and site tours in 2021. These events will run on Sundays from 10.30am – 2.00pm for as long as we have demand. Visit our Events Calendar to see what’s coming up or follow us on Facebook.

Registrations for these events are mandatory. Please email us on sales@ecovillage.net.au or call the office on (08) 9575 6688 to book in for a tour.

When will lot titles be issued?

Lot titles were issued for all available clusters in Stages 1 and 2 in December 2020, which means lots can transition to settlement immediately after the sales contract is signed.

How much is the deposit on a lot? Is it refundable?

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.

How will the staging of the Ecovillage proceed?

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. But generally, we plan to release a new stage as the previous stage is mostly sold.

In the future, can I sell my Ecovillage home to anyone?

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.

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. Visit the Land Ownership page for more information.

What are the ongoing costs of living in the Ecovillage?

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

Who can buy an agricultural lot?

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 info@ecovillage.net.au

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.

Who can buy a commercial lot and when will you release them for sale?

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 info@ecovillage.net.au 

Can I build a home and a business on a commercial lot, i.e. live and work on the same lot?

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

Are there any restrictions on what kind of business I could open in the Ecovillage?

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.

What employment and business opportunities will there be at 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.
How will you manage tourism in the Ecovillage?

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

Can I buy a lot as an investment property and operate a long-term rental in the Ecovillage?

Yes! We encourage investment in rental properties and have had many enquiries from people who would like to rent a house in the Ecovillage. We are keeping an informal list of potential tenants who we can connect with investors.

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.) 

Can I operate a short-term rental (e.g. Airbnb) in my own home?

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.

Can I operate a short-term rental (e.g. Airbnb) in my ancillary dwelling / granny flat?

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.

Will there be long term rental homes available in the Ecovillage?

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. At this stage, the Ecovillage developers do not plan to own or offer any long term rental homes for lease. However, we have an informal list of people who are interested in renting, who we are happy to connect with potential investors. So get in touch if you’re interested in a long term rental at the Ecovillage. 

Alternatively, read the Groupie Lot Eligibility Criteria for further information about Groupie lots, which are the Ecovillage’s most affordable housing option.

Will there be any co-housing opportunities in the Ecovillage?

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 info@ecovillage.net.au. If you are interested in learning more about Co-housing in WA please visit Greenfabric  and Co-Operation Housing WA.

Building Your Home

How important are the Sustainable Building Design Guidelines (BDGs)?

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.

Can I design and build my own home?

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 also have 16 sustainable house designs for a variety of lot types available in our House and Land Package range.

How do the House & Land Packages work?

We have worked together with our guild of local builders to create 16 pre-designed homes for Groupie, Cottage and Family lot types that form the Ecovillage House & Land Packages.

We have used the term “House & Land Package” because each of our homes have been specifically designed for a particular lot type, size and orientation. However, as with most House & Land Package developments, the two components are purchased separately. Buyers enter into a contract with Sustainable Settlements for the land and a separate contract with their chosen builder for the house.

The benefits of choosing a pre-designed home include:

  • Fully costed designs with many inclusions offers financial peace of mind.
  • Thermal assessment is completed.
  • Life cycle assessment is completed.
  • Design review process is completed.
  • Designs meets mandatory compliance with the Building Design Guidelines (BDGs).

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.

Will we be required to build within a certain timeframe?

Yes, we have a three-year timeframe for building. 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 24 months of settlement and complete building 12 months after that. So three years all up.

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.

Can I build an ancillary dwelling on my lot?

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

What are the lot dimensions?

You can find individual lot dimensions on the community garden cluster plans. 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

Are there building envelopes or restrictions as to where I can build on my lot?

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.

Can I have an underground rainwater tank?

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.

Community

How will the sustainability values and objectives be maintained over time?

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.

How will you prevent conflict in the strata clusters?

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.

What animals and pets can I keep in the 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, 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.

How are you catering to accessibility requirements in the Ecovillage?

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.

How will waste be managed in the Ecovillage?
  • 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.

Community Gardens

I’m not much of a gardener. Will I have to upkeep my Exclusive Use Garden Area?

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.

How will you ensure the community gardens are maintained organically?

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.