Frequently Asked Questions: common, relevant questions and answers concerning the activities and vision of the Sustainability Research Institute.
Community, sustainable living
Currently there are two models of land sharing that have been approved by the NSW State Government These are: State Environmental Planning Policy No 15—Rural Land-sharing Communities (now mostly repealed throughout NSW); and Community Title, referred to here as CT.
Q.How does the, (SRI), Sustainability Research Institute’s, rural land settlement communities model relate to that State Policy?
A. The SRI community settlement model has been developed in response to the inadequacies of the SEPP 15 model and the more recent Community Title alternative, CT. As one of the four developers of SEPP 15, known as the MO or Multiple Occupancy code, Dudley Leggett has participated in its application and noted the limitations and shortcomings of that policy and the CT alternative. He has developed the SRI model in order to produce a new approach that serves to preserve the primary benefits of SEPP 15 but addresses its inadequacies, as well as avoiding what he considers to be the retrograde alternative of CT. The benefits of this new approach to land sharing over the currently available models is yet to be demonstrated, but will be explained elsewhere.
Q. What is the requirement for becoming a resident, or member of this community? How much capital does it require?
A. The first step to becoming a participant in a SRI community settlement is to become a member of SRI. Members then form themselves into a compatible group, select a suitable property and then work together to organize the financial capacity for the Natural Capital Protection Trust (The Trust) to acquire that property. That group will then take responsibility for ensuring that the trust is always able to cover the financial obligations of the purchase. Each member will be liable for timely payment of their equal share in meeting this obligation, unless the group occupying and managing the care and development of that property (The Project Team) decide otherwise.
There is no specific amount of capital required, as this will depend on the purchase price of the property and the costs of financing the trust to acquire it. For example, some members may provide a portion of the funds and depending on the arrangement each of them are prepared to negotiate with the Trust regarding any repayment schedule they may require, as well as meeting the costs of any other provision of funds from other sources, such as a Bank Mortgage, the regular rental payments required to be made by each Team will vary.
Development and building costs will be a matter for the Project Team to address and will be a part of the Teams income generation challenge.
Q. I’ve seen how many Multiple Occupancy communities devolve into infighting and arguments. What’s different about the SRI model?
A. The process of forming a compatible group that will form a SRI Community is the first step in avoiding such an unfortunate possibility. That process includes training and practice in Consensus Decision-making, which when practiced competently goes a long way in preventing these situations arising. Also, the written clarity of the agreements regarding financial and other operational matters, which all members have taken ownership of provides further insurance against disagreement. However, perhaps the most significant feature in this regard, of the SRI approach, is the committed intention of all members to develop community living that is focused on respect for each individual’s sovereignty and the common aspiration to inspire and support each individual in reaching their greatest potential.
Q. In time people age and many become immobile, or develop other medical issues. How does the SRI model accommodate aged members?
A. Clearly the issue of caring for members should they become incapacitated, or experience limitations as they age will be a matter of common concern, so addressing this issue will be in the best interests of all. Developing facilities and the group’s ability to provide for this likely need would be a development priority. Just as members of a family, the team as a whole will need to take up this responsibility and plan ahead accordingly.
Q. Can the land owned by the trust be sold to a developer at some future time?
A. The Community always retains security of tenure unless they fail to maintain their financial obligation to the Trust, resulting in the incapacity of the Trust to meet its financial liabilities; OR they fail in honoring their signed agreement not to degrade the ‘Natural Capital’ of the land they are entrusted with the care of. To ensure the latter does not occur, it is a requirement that impacts on the land are constantly monitored (a crucial aspect of the sustainability research program that all Team members are obliged to ensure is conducted). Annual development reports covering this monitoring program must be provided to the Trust and will be assessed by SRI, which has the responsibility to provide adequate advice on how any negative impacts can be redressed. Only if such corrective action were not implemented and any degradation of the Natural Capital of the property not halted and repaired, would the Project Team be at risk of losing access to the property.