If we expect for the big developers to ease the housing crisis, we may be waiting a long time.
It’s why The Big Issue recently explored new ideas to address the nation’s shortage of new homes. And it’s why we’ve championed the approaches of community groups launching building projects along innovative lines.
A community-led housing development trust in Bristol is the latest to share its plan for future housing, a bold scheme to transform accommodation options in the Lawrence Weston estate in the city’s north-west.
The group of residents who set up “Ambition Lawrence Weston” has already secured almost £5 million of funding, including £1 million from the local authority, for a brand new housing development.
They want to build around 40 two and three-bedroom houses at the site, and plan to make them available for shared ownership and intermediate market rent.
This is a development that is being created by its residents, for its residents
Similar to the community land trust (CLT) model, the resident-led development trust wants its discounted rents linked to average local wages so the homes will be genuinely affordable for people in the area.
The 260 members who make up Ambition Lawrence Weston also plan to create a community hub, a BMX bike track, a health centre and a brand-new supermarket.
“One of our concerns was that we were a forgotten estate and no regeneration was coming to the area. We wanted to take control into our own hands and put Lawrence Weston back on the map,” said Mark Pepper, the trust’s development manager.
“This truly is a development that is being created by its residents, for its residents,” Pepper (below, left) added. “Ambition Lawrence Weston has been working with fellow residents to deliver exactly what they feel is needed in the area.”
“There is an abundance of two bedroom flats in the area, which are great but not for families with three children. Young families have been forced to leave the area simply because there aren’t the housing options for them.”
The trust’s project manager Lisa Dennison (above, right) explained that the group also has plans for a solar farm on the site, part of a micro-grid that will help keep energy costs down and generate income for the community.
“We’re also very keen on employing local people and local services,” she said. “We’re interested in building the local economy for tenders and supplies and supporting individual trades people.”
“Aiding the local economy has been a strong driver in the development of this project.”