Developer proposes first community-led housing project

Under the scheme, home owners would play an integral role in designing the homes and agreeing on community facilities within the site. July 12, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Developer proposes first community-led housing project

A Shropshire town is set to become home to the first community-led housing project put forward by a new developer, A Fairer Society.

A Fairer Society (AFS) is eyeing a 4.35 acre site off Brownlow Road, in Ellesmere, which currently has outline planning consent for 57 new homes. Peter Burke, one of the founders of AFS, said, “Under our proposals home owners will have the opportunity to customise the internal layout and influence room layouts, sizes, fixtures and fittings, etc, to suit their way of life.

“Subject to planning consent, we also envisage that home owners will determine how any public outdoor space is used, whether as allotments, a play area, community garden or something else.”

The site also includes the old Grade II listed station building which, although excluded from the original planning application, could present an opportunity to create a fully functional community centre. “Again, home owners and the wider community would play a fundamental part in deciding how the former station building will be used and run, we are engaging with people so they tell us what’s needed, it really is exciting to think what’s possible” Burke said.

As a precursor to getting the scheme off the ground, AFS has arranged a public meeting for interested parties at Ellesmere Town Hall on 23 July. “We’ll all be coming together on July 23 to help the people of Ellesmere, and beyond, understand what it is we are hoping to achieve,” said Burke. “We’ll be looking to get signed expressions of interest – we have 30 people on our database already, nine of them wanting to live in this postcode – so that we can progress the Ellesmere scheme and take forward a detailed planning application to Shropshire Council. We also hope that local councillors, community leaders, local businesses and others with a general and genuine interest in housing will come along to hear about our plans.”

Community led housing is housing designed and managed by local people and built to meet the needs of the community. It has a high degree of correlation with self-build and custom-build, which are high on the political agenda following introduction of the Self Build and Custom Build Housebuilding Act in 2015. The bill places a duty on local authorities to keep a register of individuals and community groups who have expressed an interest in acquiring land to bring forward self-build and custom-build projects and to take account of and make provision for their interests in developing their housing initiatives and local plans.

Peter Burke sees this as a major influence on A Fairer Society’s plans. “As a community-led housing developer we will source land and then work to secure it using our investors, so we can then help home owners create energy efficient homes in a community setting,” he said. “We’ll also be looking to match local price values, so that wherever possible our homes are affordable. We’ve brought together a team of consultants and experts to assist, including architects, planning consultants, sustainability experts and legal teams. We’ll enable the home owners to be part of the build process and to contribute to designing the community they want to live in. They’ll be involved from a very early stage, just like a self-builder – but without the risk or headache!”

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