Living in a tiny house in the middle of a new piece of nature. A year ago, farmer Gerard Opsteeg from Zeeland said that he would be one of the first in Brabant to convert part of his land to make this possible. He and five other farmers and landowners would become a model location for Peel Nature Villages. That organization wants to build ten thousand of these types of houses in new nature throughout Peel. But a year later, there is not even a single house on Gerard’s land.
Farmer Gerard is not surprised that he has not yet managed to build the houses. “No, I didn’t expect the houses to be there yet,” he says. “It is all quite complex to achieve this. But I still want to do it.”
The biggest challenge is that you can’t just go to the countryside tiny houses may put on a pasture. In principle, living on agricultural land is not allowed. Yet the municipality of Maashorst wants to experiment with this. That is why an area of about 25 hectares near Zeeland has been designated as a testing ground for initiatives that want to do something with the combination of housing, agriculture and nature.
Building land becomes nature
One of the initiatives is Peel Nature Villages. Their idea is very simple, but at the same time very ambitious. Part of the farmer’s land becomes new nature, with… tiny houses on top. The rental income from those houses then becomes a new source of income for the farmer. Cow farmer Gerard is one of the farmers who wants to do this. He wants to turn one of his meadows into nature and put houses on it.
But before he can obtain a permit for this, the municipality must still draw up the policy against which the permit can be assessed. The fact that it takes so long has everything to do with that. “The rules and policy do not yet exist,” explains councilor Jeroen van den Heuvel. “There is nothing to test against.”
The municipality is now creating that policy and those rules. “For this we have to talk to everyone,” the councilor explains. “For example, with the people who live in the area or with the province.”
The municipality is now working on the conditions that initiatives must meet. For example, a maximum of three parties may build houses in the area. Peel Nature Villages is one of them. Each initiative may build a maximum of 21 houses. Recreational houses are prohibited and soon at least half of the residents must come from the municipality of Maashorst.
These conditions will be discussed further and then it is up to the initiators to come up with a good plan. Only when all this has happened can the first houses on the meadow belong to farmer Gerard.
Gerard himself is patient. “I am currently growing feed on the ground. So it’s just used. I don’t think there will be a house on my land before 2026.”