Brighton families start work on self-build project costing £225,000 a house

15 November 2018

Photo opportunity: Bunker Housing Co-operative celebration event
Saturday 8 December 2018, 2.00-5.00pm. The Edge Community Centre, 83 Pankhurst Avenue, Brighton, BN2 9AE. Arrive by 2.15pm for the opportunity to see the Bunker site
on Plumpton Road, a five-minute walk away.
There will be food and drinks.

Bunker Housing Co-op has begun self-building its first affordable and environmentally friendly homes for low income families on its first site in the Queen’s Park area of Brighton. The rent will be just £1,000 a month, per three bedroomed family home.

Bunker encourages others to sign up to the Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register to show the demand for this kind of project in the city.

With the help of architects, and other construction professionals, Bunker have started building their homes using a modular system and a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) super structure. The project is set to be a great example of what is possible with self-build community-led housing.

Martyn Holmes and his partner Agata Bogacka, who live in Brighton with their two children, co-founded Bunker with another family in 2014. They had spent five years trying to find ways to secure affordable housing in the city. The idea developed as they chatted with their neighbours over the garden fence. Living in damp, cramped and overpriced private rented accommodation, both families, despite working full time, were struggling and fed up with their housing situation.

Bunker have leased their first site, on Plumpton Road, from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). They have a 99-year lease and are making use of a difficult site that a commercial developer wouldn’t be attracted to. They are working with architects from AURAA Studio in London, who have experience in smaller sights, specialise in bespoke sustainable architectural design and most importantly understand and enjoy the challenge of working on community-led developments.

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is encouraging people who support projects like Bunker to join the local Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register with Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). Registering is a good way of improving the chances for Brighton residents to self/custom build their own homes.

People in England have the Right to Build, as set out by legislation announced in 2015 and updated in 2016. The Right to Build requires all councils to maintain a register of individual and groups of individuals who want to build their own home. It places a duty on them to grant sufficient development permissions for serviced building plots to meet demand on a rolling three-year basis.

BHCLT is a central resource for community-led housing in Brighton & Hove, including housing co-operatives, cohousing and self-build projects, developed through local people working together. Our work to support community-led housing is being supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) through the Community Housing Fund.

Bunker, whose members are low income, mostly self-employed people in Brighton & Hove, now have eight adult members, along with several children. They hope to acquire a second site soon, in order to expand their project and house more of their members, all of whom are currently living in private rented accommodation.

Martyn Holmes, Bunker co-founder and soon to be Plumpton Road resident said, “Bunker has given us a way out of the private rented sector which is increasingly unaffordable for so many people in Brighton. We believe that building our own community-led and owned housing is the best housing solution for our families and will allow us to stay in the city that we have helped to build. It’s been a tough journey in many ways, but it’s definitely been worthwhile, we are really excited to move into our new homes later this year and get cracking on the second site.”

Andrea Jones, Programme Manager for the Brighton & Hove Community-Led Housing Programme said, “Bunker is such an inspiring project and shows what people can do when they work together.

“You don’t need to have construction experience to do something like this; there are building projects out there led by all sorts of people, including groups of women, and people with learning disabilities.  There is loads of support available through BHCLT and nationally. People have got to start signing up for the self-build register if they want to see things change. It shows the demand that is out there for self-build plots of land.”

Registration for the Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register can be done via their website at:

More information about self-build community led housing and how to join the register can be found at:

For more information and to arrange local interviews with self-builders, or members of Bunker Housing Co-operative, contact Amy Hall, BHCLT Communications Officer on

 Notes for editors

  1. Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is a non-profit community-led organisation working to put housing development back in the hands of people who need it. It is one of over 280 Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in England and Wales. Find out more at:
  2. Announced in 2016, a national Community Housing Fund of £60 million was shared between almost 150 councils to help tackle the problem of high levels of second home ownership in their communities. Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) was allocated £464,500 and the fund was in turn, awarded to BHCLT in October 2017, which is acting as the lead partner in this programme of work, alongside Mutual Aid In Sussex (MAIS) to deliver the Community-Led Housing Programme.
  3. The ‘Right to Build’ places two legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:
    1. Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. Registers were required from 1st April 2016.
    2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self-build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 1 April 2016 to 31 October 2016 should be granted by 31 October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 31 October 2016 to 31 October 2017 should be granted by 31 October 2020 and so on.
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