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This homelessness charity is building an eco-home rooftop community

The proposal was met with support from residents during a consultation and a decision on planning permission is expected in February
The proposed design of the eco homes in Bristol. Image credit: Emmaus.

Homelessness charity Emmaus has unveiled plans to build a “rooftop community” with 15 low-carbon eco-homes on the roof of its Bristol city-centre office. 

The charity currently supports more than 850 formerly homeless people and runs 29 “communities” across the country, providing support, accommodation and employment through social enterprise. 

The new eco-homes will be aimed at individuals ready to move on from their Emmaus Bristol accommodation but the charity will also support residents in the new homes if they need it. 

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Jessica Hodge, Emmaus chief executive, said: “Some of the people we support eventually and understandably want their own home and their own independence, but then struggle to find affordable rented homes to move into or meet significant barriers to private rented accommodation such as cost, competition, credit ratings and references. 

“The aim of our rooftop development will give people the option to live independently when they are ready to, but still keep them connected to Emmaus Bristol and the support we can provide if they need it.”

The new community will include 11 one-bedroom two-storey homes, three two-bedroom single storey homes, one one-bedroom single-story home and food growing and shared amenity space. 

Developer Agile Homes have designed the homes and say they will use 90 per cent less energy than a conventional property, making them cheaper to run and better for the planet. 

The proposal was met with support from residents during a consultation with a decision on planning permission expected in February.

The charity will then work to secure funding, appoint contractors and continue with technical design work. 

Emmaus Bristol where the community could be built.
Emmaus 2
Emmaus Bristol where the community could be built. Image credit: Emmaus

Craig White, chief executive at Agile Homes, said the new project would help tap into hidden spaces and provided a unique model. 

“We are pleased to have come up with a unique way to deliver low-carbon, affordable homes,” he said. 

“Unlocking a land supply hidden in plain sight, in the heart of the City, on the rooftop of Backfields House, means we will be helping a new community come together in a place that will be beautiful, affordable and resilient.” 

Hodge added that community-led housing within the city of Bristol was vital in helping people recover from homelessness and combat loneliness and isolation. 

 “A healthy and sustainable community is knowing your neighbours and being connected to those around you,” she said. 

“It is important that the move-on accommodation we provide has a sense of community even with independent living space.” 

The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign aims to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. Support the Bill by emailing your MP today: bigissue.com/today-for-tomorrow/