Uralla landowners Paul Simmons and Darren McDonnell have an ambition to build environmentally friendly display homes using compressed earth bricks (CEB) technology on their five acre block in Uralla. A development application granted by Uralla Shire Council, however, seems to be ill suited to their aspirations.
"We want to demonstrate to people how you can build in harmony with the environment. The earth homes are one part of that ... and we're wanting to regenerate this block as well with things like water use, power use, septic and stuff like that," Mr Simmons said.
"Our aim is to have it as "stand-alone", so we're self sufficient. We want to show people how they can do that affordably and simply, and permaculture also comes into that."
Messrs Simmons and McDonnell also own Compressed Earth Bricks Australia which operates from inside a sizeable shed on the southern side of Uralla.
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"We're relatively new and it has taken us a while to get our product right," Mr Simmons said.
"We're willing to build houses to show people what they look like and what they are all about.
"Also, we want to monitor what they're like in summer, what they're like in winter, check the temperatures and see how they perform."
Mr McDonnell said their project presented all sorts of possibilities.
"We could use this block for data collection for doing things differently, because what we are doing is not working," he said.
The problem for their project is that their block is zoned as residential and the development application approved on August 20 this year approved a dual occupancy, shed and culvert.
Uralla Shire Council acting general manager Simon Paul said council supported sustainable development.
"However, in considering applications we are bound by NSW legislation and the adopted Uralla Development Control Plan (DCP)," he said.
"With regard to services, council must consider what future owners will require, together with surrounding land uses and impacts.
"Council are happy to consider all alternative solutions as noted in the DCP."
Mr Simmons said it was across the board that all residents were to connect to sewerage, town water, power, telephone line and have a bitumen or concrete driveway.
"At the moment we've put in an application to review their conditions," he said.
Mr McDonnell thought it was time to make changes .
"We've got to stop just talking about changes and do it," he said.
"Everyone in the world is living in their head, no-one is living in their heart."
There has been a resurgence in earth building in Western Countries since the early-1960s, as its use offers a practical and cost effective building material for all types of buildings.
Traditionally, it was the principal building material used by about 60 per cent of the world's population.
Today, with environmental awareness and concerns about global warming increasing, it is being rediscovered earth as a viable and energy efficient building product.
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