Thanks to Sam Goss our architect who did the drawings used on this website

We have a new Housing Association partner

We are so happy to have Bournemouth Churches as our new housing association partner.

 

Getting development partners on board was the next challenge for Bridport Cohousing. We had the first phase of the land and access to it, the plans and the planning permission, huge support from the local authorities, friends, family and the community and a growing number of committed members, but we still needed partnerships with outside organisations to make the vision a reality.

Part of that vision has been to work in tandem with a housing association which would understand what makes a cohousing scheme different and see that as an asset to the way they run their own business.

On the face of it, cohousing might look like a more expensive option for a housing association to consider, as there is the cost of the common house to factor in as well as the higher specifications of the build itself, in terms of high levels of insulation and provision for generating our own power, for example.  

However, when taking a holistic approach to the potential benefits that living in this type of housing might offer, such as the well documented improvements to health and wellbeing ,  Bournemouth Churches immediately ‘’got it’’.  We met them face to face several times and have always been greeted with positivity and enthusiasm combined with a very down to earth approach.

Their values completely resonate with ours

  • Personal integrity
  • The importance of every individual
  • To honour and empower the people they serve
  • The importance of working as a team

They are friendly, effective, concerned and run an impressive social programme alongside their housing programme to enable their residents /tenants to improve their lives, employing 500 people to deliver their services. We also liked that their offices are not plush and display paintings on the walls of the board room that their residents have done. We think we have found the best partner and a huge thanks to member Chris for introducing them.

The icing on the cake was the announcement on Monday 17 September of the opening of the second phase of the Community Housing Fund and the news that funding towards shared facilities, like a common house, is part of the package.  Good news for us and for our new housing association partner.

Our marvellous news!

We are delighted to say that our loan offer was over-subscribed and has enabled us to proceed with the purchase of Phase 1 land. 

The access agreement with the Dorset NHS Trust was finally approved by the Department of Health just days before our option to purchase the land ran out. This caused much anxiety for members because we could not have proceeded with the purchase without this agreement in place and was possibly the most stressful part of the Bridport Cohousing journey to date!!
All worked out well in the end, and on 20th March 2018 (also the spring equinox) members gathered to mark the occasion with a photo-shoot and walking the boundary of their newly purchased land.

BC welcome photo

Loan Offer

Our last big news was that we had paid the deposit for the purchase of the site of our cohousing scheme.   With the site access agreed with the NHS Trust, we now need to fund the purchase of the land.

To achieve this we have launched a Loan Offer Prospectus, inviting members, friends and supporters of Bridport Cohousing, and their friends, who are interested in social investments to make loans of £1,000 plus.  We have opted for this size of loan because, as a small community-led development, we need to know we can administer the volume of paperwork generated by these loans.

We’re looking to raise £250,000 by the end of January.  There is a Reply Form at the end of the prospectus which people can use to tell us, by 10 January, that they wish to invest, and we send a loan agreement form for them to sign and return to us by 31 January.

Below are the first two pages of the prospectus (click on the pages to enlarge)

(For a full prospectus click HERE)

Page 1

Page 2

Heart-warming news

Bridport Cohousing CLT has an option to purchase the western part of the site in which we plan to develop our cohousing neighbourhood; this is our phase 1. 

We also have an option to purchase the remaining part of the site, phase 2, when planning permission has been granted.

Having been granted Planning Permission on phase 1, in order to exercise the right to take up an ‘option to purchase,’ the buyer has to serve notice on the vendor of their intention.  If this is not done the buyer loses the right to purchase the land.  The deadline for us to serve this notice was Wednesday 26th October.  On Tuesday 25th October Hugh went to the vendor’s solicitor’s office, and handed over a notice of our intention to take up the purchase option and a cheque for the requisite deposit.  The receipt from the receptionist was treated with great reverence!

The notice requires us to pay the balance of the monies in 90 days which is Tuesday 23rd January 2018.  That is the end date; once all of the elements needed are in place we could do it earlier. 

We are delighted to have moved into this phase or our plans.  We’ll keep you posted as the next stage of making a special place unfolds!

Phase 2 planning application news

1401_place-for-people-smallWe are delighted to say that Bridport Cohousing’s Planning Application for phase 2 of the site was registered on 10th May 2017; this is for the 2+ acres that were not in the phase 1 planning application.  The number of our application is WD/D/17/000534.

Here is the web link to the application:
http://webapps.westdorset-weymouth.gov.uk/PlanningApps/Pages/Planning.aspx?App=WD/D/17/000534

The consultation period, during which members of the public are invited to send in their comments, started on 22nd May and ends on 12th June.     LATE NEWS: The consultation period has now been extended to 30th June.

We invite all our individual friends and the Friends of Bridport Cohousing to look at our plans and then email or write to the council to offer your comments in support.

Cohousing is still unfamiliar to many people and the responses from supporters will demonstrate that it is a recognised way of living; with known benefits like careful husbanding and reduced use of resources such as energy and water, car ownership and use, but more walking and cycling which generates better health outcomes for residents.

We had a fantastic response to our phase 1 application from residents and friends in Bridport, and we’d be delighted if you are also able to support this application.

If you have any questions please contact us on: 07907 993 587 or via our website http://bridportcohousing.org.uk/contact-us/

Information for those wishing to submit a Written Comment:
Please remember to include the number of the planning application WD/D/17/000534 and send it to:

West Dorset District Council
Clare McCarthy
Planning
South Walks House
South Walks Road
Dorchester
Dorset  DT1 1UZ

With thanks from the members of Bridport Cohousing.

New Logo for Bridport Cohousing

logoweb

Bridport Cohousing’s original logo was a gift from Alan Heeks, who had adapted it from one he uses. It has served us well for 8 years. When Sam Goss, our architect appointed first to design our common house​,​ heard we were looking for a new logo he offered us a design, based on the footprint of the Common House.

We put it onto ‘Loomio,’ an online platform that offers a group discussion and voting space, for members to consider.  Some of us loved Sam’s drawing and some of us didn’t, which was an indication of what is involved in choosing a logo. However submitting our planning application was looming ; the need for a logo got overtaken by events.

We later approached Julian Howells who is a valued friend of Bridport Cohousing and he offered 3 designs for us to consider.  He drew on local associations in both typefaces and images.   This was really very helpful as it opened up our discussions on what we all wanted.  Again, choosing a logo got overtaken by events.

When Peter joined us he was concerned about how he as a new member might contribute to the project and when we explored what work he did, highly skilled painting on glass, designing a logo for us seemed a good way to use those skills and creativity. He set to work and produced a series of ideas and ‘’doodles’’ which tried to embody the spirit of our project and give reference to the site we will be building on.
logo-bc-web-
Finding a way for all members to reach an agreement on something as subjective as a logo was never going to be easy!!  Bridport Cohousing has the wisdom to use Sociocracy as a way of reaching decisions and, happily, this eased the whole process for us. Firstly we elected which of Peter’s designs we felt carried most weight. This was in the form of a letter ‘b’ interlocking with a letter ‘c’ and once we had agreed that this was the most widely accepted and understood motif we handed the job of developing this into an identifiable logo to a professional graphic artist. Sohani’s son Carlos was approached and agreed to take on the work and he, in turn, produced a series of ideas for us to consider.

logo-leaf-web-We discussed colour, texture, fonts and emblems – some thought the leaf did not have anything to say about the project and was too generic, but on researching the symbolism of a green leaf we find that it is an ancient heraldic symbol of ‘’happiness’’ and can be used to represent ‘’hope’’, ‘’renewal’’ and the ‘’beginning of life’s cycle’’.

Although the whole process of finding a new logo from beginning to end took several years, within a very short time we were able to reach consent within the membership. We have now got our new logo identity just in time to be used for the marketing brochure, the updated website and on our business communications with funding agencies, businesses and local authorities. A huge ‘’Thank You’’ to all the people involved  in bringing our new logo to fruition.

BBC Radio Solent called us

Monica King writes…Steve Harris of BBC Radio Solent called on the BC phone and asked if Bridport Cohousing could do a live radio broadcast interview with him.  The date was set for 15 Feb and, with no one else available to talk live on radio, I took it on.  
Steve and Simon had spent the morning with residents at the Threshold Centre, then driven to Bridport.  They had a video camera which was a bit of a surprise to me!  It turned out they were getting material for a live radio show, and filming for BBC local news.

I showed them our explanatory boards and then we went to the site; we ‘leaned on the fence’ where we made the opening on Dormouse Day, and did a video piece where Steve asked questions and Simon filmed.  Then I got dropped off at home while they went off to find a long shot of the town and go home.

Steve called an hour later, and said they had had a technical problem with the microphone on the first take and could I do it again; so we went back to the field and re-did the piece. I got dropped home again and we said goodbye, Steve saying he would email me about joining the live radio conversation to take place on the following Tuesday at 8.10 am!  During the day I had been fairly relaxed about the whole thing, but by the end of the day I was aching all over, so I had obviously carried tension in my body without being aware of it!

Steve called on Monday 20th and said they had made the radio piece and had enough material so I was off the hook for the live radio programme on Tuesday, which was good news as 8.00 in the morning is a bit early for me!  
On Tuesday Steve emailed a link to the radio programme that had gone out that morning, saying he hoped I approved (link here) and they were working on the TV piece.  That evening I was watching the local BBC news on TV, something I rarely do, and was surprised to hear that the next item was about cohousing. There was Steve at The Threshold Centre and then the film from Bridport.

That night he sent me a link to the TV programme,  and hoped that I approved.  I assured him I did and thought he and Simon had done a great job.  My only regret was that, along with the absence of young faces in the film which was down to who was available, the bit about ‘cohousing being for all ages, but that it tends to be pioneered by older people who have the time’ had not survived.

It was interesting how much more information a few minutes of radio can convey when compared with television, where the camera wants interesting things to film.  Several Bridport people have said they had seen and enjoyed the news item, so it will be interesting to see whether we get any enquiries as a result of the BBC Radio Solent programme.

 

A Breakthrough Day – first new homes on site (for dormice!)

dormousedayDecember 9th was a really exciting day for us as we were able to start work on our field.

A section of hedgerow needed to be removed in order to make an entrance for the machinery that will start putting in the infrastructure on site, which is due to start in spring 2017, and in the winter months there would be no problem with disturbing nesting birds.

We are mindful that this may affect other local wildlife species, and because dormice may be active in nearby woodland on Allington Hill, we enlisted the help of ecologist Bronwen Bruce of Abbas Ecology to look for signs of them hibernating.

Although no dormice were found on the day Bronwen help us put up four special dormouse nestboxes which we had purchased, so that in the spring they will provide safe places for the dormice to build nests and, hopefully, breed.
The common (or hazel) dormouse is an endangered British species which spends the winter months in hibernation, often in the shelter of hedgerows, underneath leaves or logs. A small golden brown mammal, with large black eyes and a furry tail, it is well know to us through the story of Alice In Wonderland, where it fell asleep in a teapot at the Hatter’s tea party

We are very keen to develop the site with a view to sustainable living; and creating even more biodiversity around our living spaces is important to us – ponds and native tree planting will create more habitats and we plan to actively manage our hedgerows and trees to create the right environment for these beautiful and elusive creatures.
Members worked really hard, with the help of our mangement consultant Charles Couzens ( wielding chainsaw) to achieve the breakthrough and we were pleased that prospective member Alison and newest members Emily and Herbie gave a helping hand just when we needed it.

By Lin Scrannage

Dormouse Day: Friday December 9th

dormouseIn preparation for developers starting work on site in a few months time, we need to make an opening in the hedge that adjoins the hospital approach road, that will in time form the entrance to the site.
The opening has to be made in winter, when there are no nesting birds; with an ecologist on site to assist us in the event  of finding dormant dormice.
We will be doing this work on Friday 9 December, starting at 8.00am; because the hedge is deep this work may take some time. We anticipate working from inside the field, outwards, and do not expect to inconvenience people going to and from the hospital, but we may attract some attention from passers by who are using the road.

After a rollercoaster summer – good news!

eco-homes-images29It’s been abit of a rollercoaster this summer with the recent changes to legislation meaning that just as we got the go-ahead from the planners – it became clear that the whole future of housing associations was in doubt – especially in regards to building new houses!

It was a nail biting time and it’s a measure of the staying power and tenacity of this group and our advisors that we didn’t give up. We are relieved and quietly delighted to be able to say that things are looking a lot more positive now and we are in the tendering process with contractors.

Once we hear back from contractors, the next stage will be to finalise the development agreement between the housing association (Hastoe), the contractor and us, with the aim of starting on the infrastructure (roads and carparks etc.) in early 2017.

Another unexpected twist in the story is that due to Hastoe being able to secure some extra funding for affordable housing, the planned second stage of the project could (subject to a further planning application) happen a lot sooner than we all imagined . This could mean an extra 17 houses for rent and up to 13 self-build or self-finished houses. We anticipate that  while residents of these additional homes would need to sign up to some of the cohousing objectives, like recycling and greener travel, they could choose whether or not to be part of cohousing.

There has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes as all manner of things have needed to be thought through & negotiated as we take a step nearer bringing this project to fruition.

We will be putting up a lot more information on the website as it all unfolds and also keeping people informed through our ‘friends of Bridport Cohousing’ monthly newsletter which you can subscribe to here. The important questions people keep asking like ‘when will it be built?’ and ‘how much will the houses cost?’ will hopefully be answered within the next few months. Watch this space!