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

An award from the National CLT. Sept 2019

Monica King of Bridport Cohousing has won the award for ‘’Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’’ at the National CLT Network awards ceremony held in Birmingham this month which champions people and projects  from around the country that have achieved great things in the past year. She was one of eight nominees and picked because she has worked tirelessly for a decade to help bring our development of 53 affordable eco houses to fruition, and is an unpaid wonder!!

This project could easily have fallen apart so many times. We have faced incredibly difficult challenges from our stakeholder partners, renegotiating agreements with 3 different housing association partners over the years and dealing with the impacts of successive government policies. We have learned to navigate our way through an extremely complicated access agreement with NHS lawyers, and work our way through the local planning process, submitting various plans on a piece of land which has involved buying it in different phases. We have had  to find ways of financing ourselves through grant applications, loans, members deposits and community loan schemes – it has been a bit like being on a ghost train ride!! You are going along nicely when something scary jumps out and you do a 90 degree turn that takes you on a different path until the next scary thing jumps out!!

Monica has never lost her nerve, or her calm – just got on with the job in hand in a most professional and diligent way. Her patience, empathy, good humour and experience all combine to make a truly exceptional person, so it is no wonder that in the category ‘’Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’’ she was declared overall winner at the awards.

 

Lin scrannage

Bridport cohousing

The wider benefits of cohousing: The case of Bridport Cohousing

A round table lunch meeting at the London School of Economics

On Friday 20th September, Monica, Lin, Judith and Charles met Jim Hudson and sat round a table at the London School Of Economics with 13 others**, who were all contributing to a discussion of the report that Jim has been commissioned to prepare for Bridport Cohousing.  This was looking at the expected social and environmental benefits of Bridport Cohousing in Dorset.   

The benefits to residents are well researched and understood, but the impact outside of the group is something that BC has had to think about in the past, when preparing presentations to councils and funders, and particularly in our planning application.  Now we have the additional benefit of those with wider experience in the housing sector bringing that experience to our project.

We were all welcomed by Kath Scanlon, of the LSE; and with food on our plates we took our places at the table and all introduced ourselves.  It was really great to see such a range of people, from a range of organisations, gathering for the benefit of cohousing in general, and Bridport Cohousing in particular. 

Between us, Judith, Lin and I gave a brief introduction to BC, and Charles added relevant professional information.  Specific parts of the draft report were read out and the conversation began. It was fascinating to hear other people bringing their experience to bear on Jim’s work, developing ideas and making links between them.

The report that Jim Hudson has prepared “The wider benefits of cohousing: The case of Bridport” can be found at the following link:

http://www.lse.ac.uk/geography-and-environment/research/lse-london/documents/Reports/Bridport-cohousing-report.pdf 

 

** Other attendees were:

 

Shirley Meredeen – of Older Women’s Co-Housing, London

Sheila Nicholson – ditto

Melissa Fernandez – of Lancaster University, working with Jim Hudson

Iqbal Hamiduddin – of the Bartlett (School of Architecture and Planning), University College, London; who is a specialist in rural planning and self-build housing, and was second supervisor for Jim Hudson’s PhD.

Jess Haigh – of barefoot architects – BC’s architects

Zohra Chiheb – an architect, working with Croydon Council on enabling Community Led DevelopmentZohra visited BC a few years ago and has developed her interest in cohousing.

Simon Henley – of Henley Halebrown, architects of Copper Lane, London’s first cohousing scheme

Stephen Hill – an independent public interest practitioner, currently Chair of the UK Cohousing Network, and a board member of the UK Cohousing Trust and the National Community Land Trust Network.

Andrea Jones – of Good Health Projects, Managing a programme of community led housing capacity building in Brighton & Hove; who has recently completed her PhD that explored the experience of older members in various cohousing groups in the UK.

John Goodman – Chair of the UK cohousing Trust; formerly head of policy and the regions at Co-operatives UK from 2000-2013, with extensive prior experience of working within co-operative housing. 

Levent Kerimol – of Community Led Housing, London

Nigel Kersey – of The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).  Judith and I had previously met Nigel at this year’s ‘Community Led Housing Think Tank’ at Trafford Hall, Chester; led by Anne Power, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the LSE.

From: Monica King, with input from Jim Hudson

Finally, we have our full planning permission in place and our Section 106 signed. Hooray!!

Although our Phase 2 Planning Application was passed last November, it could not be finalised until a couple of variations that cropped up in the last couple of months were dealt with officially.

In spring this year, an anomaly was spotted in the Land Registry Plan of our land, which had, in the past been a site where a lot of clay had been removed for local brickworks. This resulted in  a high bank at the northern edge of our field and no one knew whether our boundary was at the top or bottom of this. It turned out to be unregistered land. We have had to post notices and redraw plans, which include moving a bat box to another tree (hopefully the bats won’t complain about the relocation of their new future residence!!)

The other variation was caused by our local renewable energy company (who are installing our photovoltaic arrays) needing to put more solar panels into the scheme in order to make it work for them. Great news, but this too resulted in more plans having to be redrawn and taken back to Dorset Council’s Planning Committee.However, this will also allow the Hazelmead Energy Service Company to be set up and make the whole scheme zero carbon. Because a key goal of the project is for residents to actively work to reduce their ecological footprints the ESCO will be a huge boost towards that goal of environmental resilience. Within the context of the recent understanding of the climate emergency this will significantly help our neighbourhood and the wider community.

Dorset Council has recently been restructured , and there were many new faces on the Planning Committee who were unfamiliar with what the Bridport Cohousing project is trying to achieve. As has happened in the past, various questions cropped up from committee members, but were dealt with clearly and calmly by Monica, and our scheme was unanimously given final approval – we were even asked by two members if we would come to their wards and set up cohousing there!

With the Planning permission now in place we are able to go ahead and purchase the second piece of land. With our scheme currently out to tender and our off plan sales process in motion, it looks like an extremely busy and tense summer ahead for members and supporters of Bridport Cohousing!!

Planning permission gained for Phase 2

One of the final hurdles we have had to negotiate before we can start work on site took place on Thursday 15th November 2018 at the offices in Dorchester of The Dorset Councils Partnership (of which West Dorset District Council is now a partner), where members gathered to hear the outcome of the Phase 2 Planning Application that had been first put in place May 2017.  Much work had been done to simplify a previous application which included an element of self build, and had addressed the concerns of Allington Parish Council around car parking and flooding risks.

There were some anxious moments for us when the Committee asked for clarification around the wording of the permission and why we were only being asked to build 7 affordable homes but had applied to build 19.  It took some time to establish what members of the Committee were being asked to agree to.

Happily, however, we had our professional advisor, Charles Couzens in the room to bring calm clarity to their objections, which resulted in unanimous approval for the application.

The good news is that we can now proceed with the whole development of 53 affordable houses in one step, which will have positive implications for saving us both time and money.

Happy faces all round!!

Exciting news (Oct 2018)

Latest Exciting News for Interested Enquirers!!

We have at last begun the process of building the affordable neighbourhood of sustainable eco-homes that has been in the planning stages for so long.  The first phase of off-plan houses and flats are being released in a few weeks time for leasehold purchase at 80% of open market value, and members of Bridport Cohousing Community Land Trust will at last be able to look forward to our dream becoming a reality, as we anticipate starting the groundworks in December and building the timber frame modular homes and common house by mid-Summer 2019.

The first step towards owning or renting one of these beautiful architect designed homes, situated on the northwest edge of Bridport and surrounded by delightful Dorset countryside, is to look at what the benefits of living in cohousing might mean for you and to become a member of the CLT. We hold regular events (HERE) for people who may be curious to learn about living in a neighbourhood where it is made easy for families and individuals to come together to enjoy shared activities like eating together and community gardening, while at the same time enjoying their own personal space, whenever they need it, and private self contained accommodation.

Keep a lookout for more news at the end of October, when the sales brochure will be available and sign up to our newsletter or phone 07907 993 587 for more information.

 

We bought the land!

 

 Celebration on the equinox

 

It’s 20th March 2018, the snow’s gone and we’ve just learned that we now really own the land for phase one and the right of access to it!  So a propitious opportunity for those of us who could be there – to do just that. We recorded the event with a few pictures (once we had disentangled ourselves from the bunting!).

 

unnamed 4

 

unnamed 2

 

unnamed 1

 

On February 11th 2016 we were granted full planning permission for Phase 1 of our project:

  • 34 homes, from 1 bed apartments to 4 bed family homes, with a high level of sustainability (AECB Silver Standard);
  • Of these 17 will be housing association homes for affordable rent (80% of open market rents) for local people; the rest will be for leasehold sale at 80% of open market value;
  • A common house – offering a range of facilities for cohousing residents and the wider community;
  • Lots of shared green-space.

 

In February 2017 we submitted planning permission for Phase 2 but planners had objections to our proposed siting of self-build plots. We did considerable work with a review panel on how best to integrate these with the overall design, but on further consultation with our members it was decided to step away from the whole idea of having a self-build element, which would have added an extra layer of complexity to the scheme.

Our simplified Phase 2 application, which is currently in the process of gaining approval, now consists of:

  • 19 homes – 1 bed apartments and 2,3 and 4 bed terraced houses
  • Housing Association homes for affordable rent for local people.
  • leasehold purchase homes – either finished or for self-finish.
  • shared space for allotments
  • access to common house

NB Affordability is as defined by the Government, 80% of open market rents or sale prices.


In March 2018
 we finally got an access agreement with the Dorset NHS Trust in place and purchased the land for Phase 1 of our development.

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 https://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.