St Anthonys Trust

Housing Projects and Future Development

Plaw Hatch Farm Housing Appeal

Last winter, the home of one of Plaw Hatch Farm’s farming families was badly damaged in a fire. It happened one night when they dashed out with a poorly baby to find medicine and a curtain caught fire against a lamp. Despite the swift action of the local fire brigade, there was considerable damage, especially due to smoke, and it was left uninhabitable. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The farm now needs to rebuild. Although the property was insured, the type of structure (former mobile home which had been extended) meant a very low valuation and the amount from the insurers will not cover the cost, however modest the replacement. The farm has been fortunate to find a prefabricated home which was constructed as a farmer’s house and has now got planning permission to erect it at Plaw Hatch. The insurance money came to £37,000 but the farm now needs to raise £75,000 to do all the necessary work to finish the house.

Why is this so important?

If we want to train more young and enthusiastic farmers, we need to house properly those who want to make the commitment to biodynamic farming. To do this, we need to give them a decent home where they can raise a family and give them a reason to stay. Unlike many conventional farms, where the current average age of a farmer in the UK is around 60 years, Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst farms are attracting young farmers who want to start families, who want to work and be a part of a better way of farming. The demand for good, honest, local food is growing and biodynamic farms, open to visitors at all times and with the highest animal welfare standards are part of the way forward. If we can encourage more people into farming by creating homes and futures for them, then there is hope that farming can change, for the benefit of all of us.

If you would like to know more, donate or feel you can assist in raising funds, please contact any of the following people:

Jenny Wright –  M. 07894 515748

Rebecca Heys –  T. 01342 810652

Elizabeth Porterfield –  M. 07979 362509

Please donate

The Pixton 3rd Age Project

Since its beginnings in 1972, one of St Anthony’s charitable purposes has been to support the elderly by providing suitable accommodation in the Forest Row area.  The Trust was originally set up to provide housing for retired Michael Hall teachers.  This did not work out as anticipated and the Trust broadened its remit by taking on Old Plaw Hatch Farm to preserve it as biodynamically farmed land and a training centre for biodynamics.

In 2017 a project group was formed by Emerson College and the Anthroposophical Society in Sussex to look into the possibility of converting Pixton House at Emerson College into residential accommodation, creating the Pixton Third Age Project (P3A).  The project intended to provide apartments for older people within Grade II-listed Pixton House in a “co-housing” scheme.

Saint Anthony’s Trust supported this initiative from the initial stages. Over £100,000 was raised thanks to The Architectural Heritage Fund, which offered a grant, and to generous gifts from supporters; a planning application was submitted and approved by Wealden District Council. This application required the work of architects, project managers, surveyors, and a planning consultant to present detailed architectural designs, site surveys, environmental impact assessments etc. The project obtained planning consent for 15 units. 

Although the project’s financial structure had looked viable before the pandemic struck in early 2020, several factors have contributed to making the finances unsustainable since then. Carefully evaluating the costs and potential income of the Pixton co-housing project after the pandemic, the project leaders requested a formal valuation which concluded that the costs after the pandemic were far higher than anticipated and the potential income from sales of the flats was substantially lower than envisaged. It was clear that the project could not proceed in its current form.

Despite this disappointing outcome, we trust that the time, energy, and funds put into the scheme will be helpful for those taking up the idea when economic conditions are more stable.  Saint Anthony’s Trust Ltd remains interested in supporting similar projects in the community.

Please donate

Future Possibilities

Land Trust

We are currently exploring the possibility of placing St Anthony’s assets into a land trust to make the land farmed by Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch even more inviolable for the future.

Work with Emerson College

We are working with the college to ensure that biodynamic education and training develops into the future. This might include a Learning on the Land initiative for school children (currently on hold owing to funding restrictions) and a project for bee guardianship.