Tag Archives: self-build

Brighton & Hove is ready for more community-led housing

Over 200 people filled the Brighthelm Centre on Wednesday 21 February for the launch of our Community-Led Housing Programme.

With support from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC), Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is supporting local people who want to start their own community-led housing projects, including co-operatives, cohousing and self-build.

We want more truly affordable and stable housing in the city, with more people gaining control over their housing situation. The enthusiasm at Wednesday’s event showed that we’re not alone.

Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill, Director at C2O futureplanners, gave a useful overview of the national picture for community-led housing, including examples of exciting projects such as LILAC, a cohousing community of 20 eco houses in Leeds and OWCH, a group of women over 50 who have created their own community in a purpose-built block of flats in North London.

Stephen introduced the idea of ‘market disrupters’. ‘Communities are spending huge amounts of their time trying to put together housing projects that nobody else will,’ he said. ‘The fact that people like you are here today is some kind of witness to the fact that policy and the market has failed so many people.’

For him, part of the excitement around community-led housing is that the unexpected always happens. ‘Every project has a little bit of magic in it,’ he said. ‘You give people the opportunity to do something amazing and all sorts of bits of creativity and innovation come to the fore – things that you can never possibly imagine would happen.’

Anne Meadows

Councillor Anne Meadows, Chair of the Housing & New Homes Committee and a Labour & Co-operative representative for Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, paid tribute to what the city has already achieved: ‘In some respects I feel it’s national thinking that has caught up with Brighton & Hove,’ she said. ‘We have had an innovative and active community-led housing sector for many, many years.’

In recent years, Martyn Holmes of Bunker Self-Build Housing Co-op has been one of the people behind that innovation. He told the story of Bunker’s beginnings – two neighbours chatting over the garden fence, both living in private rented housing that they were struggling to afford and fed up with their housing situation. Along with their families, they are soon to start work on two modular houses in Brighton, making use of a small and difficult site that a big developer wouldn’t be attracted to.

Martyn Holmes

For Bunker, part of the reason for choosing a self-build project was the money they would save. Martyn explained that group self-build schemes can result in cost savings of up to 40% or more. ‘It is hard, but it is worth doing,’ he said and urged others not to give up, particularly as the Community-Led Housing Programme could help reduce some of the barriers that Bunker experienced early on.

Housing groups get to know each other

Stephen also emphasised that the rewards will come eventually. ‘You shouldn’t underestimate the difficulties,’ he said. ‘If you’re going to do this it will take over your life… but I’ve never met anybody who regretted it.’

Community-led housing is not just about building homes from scratch, as our Programme Manager, Andrea Jones, explained. ‘The problem with housing in this country is not just about supply and numbers of houses, it’s about the unequal distribution of it,’ she said.

Andrea explained that people are beginning to think about housing differently, going against the instinct that people should follow the trajectory of buying their own place, or renting somewhere with boundaries from others. ‘If we can open the debate up about how it’s possible to live and how it’s possible to live well then we can release some of the housing stock that isn’t used well or imaginatively,’ said Andrea.

Throughout 2018 we will be working to raise awareness about the potential of community-led housing for Brighton & Hove, as well as holding more events and practical workshops for groups at all stages of the journey.

Do you want to keep up to date with our news and events? Sign up to the BHCLT mailing list here.

Find out more about the Community-Led Housing Programme here.

A video from the launch will be published on our website over the coming weeks.

Photos: Tim Andrews and others.

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The big launch: What to expect on the day

With less than one week until the launch of the Brighton and Hove Community-Led Housing Programme, we wanted to update you on the plans for the event.

The event will take place on Wednesday 21 February, 5.30-9.00pm (Registration from 5:15pm) in the Auditorium, Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1YD. Food will be provided at the start of the event.

The launch is currently fully booked but you can add yourself to the waiting list here at Eventbrite

5.30-6.00pm Food There will also be the opportunity to meet others interested in community-led housing.
6.00-7.00pm Introduction Andrea Jones, Brighton & Hove Community-Led Housing programme.
Who, what, where, why and how? A brief introduction to Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) and its work on community-led housing.

Councillor Anne Meadows, Chair of the Housing & New Homes Committee, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Moulsecoomb and Bevendean

Stephen Hill, Director – C2O futureplanners
The national picture for community-led housing and what is possible.

Stephen Hill is a key player in the development of Community-led Housing in the UK. He has worked over many years to create opportunities for social investment in cities and positive urban change and renewal. Through his research and his work with C20 Future Planners, The UK Cohousing Network and the National Community Land Trust network he has championed the cause creating opportunities for lower income households to get access to secure affordable housing in well-designed neighbourhoods. He has developed programmes for the training of local people and professionals to be ‘barefoot urban designers’ in large scale neighbourhood renewal programmes. He writes a regular blog at: Stephenhillfutureplanning.blogspot.co.uk

Martyn Holmes, Bunker Self-Build Housing Co-op
A local success story: A new self-build housing co-operative for low income families in Brighton & Hove.

Martyn is a founding member of Bunker Housing Co-operative, a Representative for CHIBAH (Co-operative Housing in Brighton & Hove) and helped to shape the Brighton and Hove Community-led Housing Programme. He first got involved with community-led housing as a solution to his own families housing needs and quickly became involved regionally and nationally. In 2017 he completed a MRes (masters) in Architecture at UEL focussing on the housing crisis and alternative solutions to it, has been working for three years on a self-build pilot scheme with the Estate Regeneration Team at Brighton and Hove City Council to self-build two three bedroomed family homes on a BHCC-owned disused garage site, which is about to start on site this Spring! He will be starting a PhD at University of East London in October 2018 on Building capacity within the community-led housing sector.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions of both Stephen and Martyn.

7.10-8.00pm Share your journey Wherever you are in your journey into Community-led Housing, join this session to ‘speed chat’ to people in other housing groups. Connect with others setting up community-led housing projects across the city and share your experiences. You may even find people to join forces with!
8.10-8.20pm What’s next? The Brighton & Hove Community-Led Housing Programme team will share their ideas of how to move forward.
8.20pm-9.00pm Time to chat Ask those last burning questions or meet other people interested in community-led housing

Find out more about the Community-Led Housing Programme, and what support is available here at our website.

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Financial planning for community-led housing projects: Free workshop

Are you setting up a community-led housing project in Brighton & Hove? Do you need some help making the finances work?

We are holding a free financial planning workshop in Brighton on Saturday 24 February 11am-3pm. It will include an introduction to financial planning for community-led housing from Nathan Brown of Co-op Culture, experienced supporters of co-operative, community and social enterprise. Nathan will cover which tools to use, financial viability and different formats for financial plans, as well as answering questions.

The second part of the workshop will be an opportunity to work on your project’s financial plan with other members of your group. We will have local experts on hand to help, including someone who has set up their own community-led housing project and our land and property expert Nicola Thomas.

There are limited places for this workshop and it’s only open to groups who have a project outlined and are ready to sort out their finances. If you are interested in registering, please email admin@bhclt.org.uk to make sure it is the right thing for you.

There is more planned

We have more practical workshops planned, including a surgery with representatives of banks who lend to community-led housing projects.

Please let us know if you would like to be put on our mailing list and receive regular updates from BHCLT, including news on community-led housing and future workshops.

This workshop is part of the Brighton & Hove Community-Led Housing Programme, supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). Find out more here, including how to apply for financial support.

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Green architecture. How much does size matter?

Andrea Jones, from the Community-Led Housing Programme team, will be talking at this year’s Green Architecture Day on Saturday 10 March in Brighton.

Andrea will be talking about the new and exciting opportunities opening up for local groups to create their own affordable housing solutions in the city.

The theme of this year’s event, which is organised by Brighton Permaculture Trust and Low Carbon Trust, is ‘Sustainability at Scale: Size Matters’. A range of leading experts will be asked there is any use in our current climate of being a tiny beacon of sustainability, or should we be focusing on larger developments.

How this can be possible and where the architectural and design community is heading? How does this translate to a city like Brighton & Hove and what is being done here at home?

There will be a facilitated plenary panel at the end of the day where there will be the chance to ask questions in person, or by ballot. As well as a range of talks there will be stalls and stands and a complimentary light lunch.

Green Architecture Day takes place on Saturday 10 March, 10:30am to 5pm at the Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton, Grand Parade Building, BN2 0JY.

Find out more at the Brighton Permaculture Trust website.

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Considering self-build? Join Starlings on a trip to Bristol

Starlings Housing Coop are looking for people to join them on a tour of Ashley Vale self-build community in Bristol on Saturday 3 February.

Ashley Vale is an exciting project consisting of 40 homes, alongside workspaces, community facilities and a traffic-calming ‘home zone’. It was initiated by local residents in 2000 and completed in 2010. It has won multiple awards for its design features and sustainability.

On the day there will be a four hour workshop, including a tour of The Yard plus a talk and discussion with Jackson Moulding of Ecomotive. This is a great inspiration opportunity for anyone thinking about a self-build community-led housing project, whether you are doing it with your own hands or contracting the work out.

More on Ashley Vale:

You will have the chance to learn about the history of the project and to look up close at the houses from the exterior, accompanied by a participant from the original project. There may be a chance to look inside one or more of the homes.

Starlings Housing Coop aims to create a small community of 24 genuinely affordable, sustainable homes in Brighton and Hove. A the centre will be a a community hub and the project will evolve according to the members’ needs.

Sign up to join Starlings on their trip here at Eventbrite.

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