Bridport Cohousing is now well on the way to starting construction of its 53 affordable ecohouses, which will make up the neighbourhood called ‘Hazelmead’ and which is due to be completed in early summer 2022.
The infrastructure on the site is now almost complete and the timber frame components are due to be delivered shortly, which is when the houses will start to appear.
A cohousing neighbourhood would not be cohousing if it did not have a common house, says Lyn Scrannage from Bridport Cohousing and the raising of funds to build it and pay for two guest bedrooms is the next challenge that this community-led group faces.
“Funding the homes has been achieved by getting various national and local development grants in place and partnering with BCHA, who are building the homes for social rent and for some of the shared ownership homes, which will be for leasehold sale at 30% to 75% of open market value,” said Lyn
“Those members who are able to buy a home at 80% have started to buy off plan and exchange of contracts has already happened for eleven of us.
“Because the membership is made up of people who are needing affordable homes, there is no money available from people to ‘chip in’ for the common house - we have to find a way to get the money together ourselves and have come up with the plan to offer loan stock.
“Loan stock is a way of raising money that has been successfully used by housing co-ops, and we feel it is the right fit for our campaign, which will be launched to the public in the new year.”
Bridport Cohousing has successfully raised money from the wider community before. In 2018 over £250,000 was raised in a few weeks in order to buy the phase 2 land. The project group were blown away by the response and encouragement from the public and are confident that they will be able to raise another big chunk of money so that they can finalise the construction contract, enabling them to complete the common house in time for everyone to begin moving into their new homes.
Membership is made up of people who live in and around this lively Dorset town and who are passionate about supportive, equitable and sustainable living. Supporters come from all walks of life - single mums with toddlers and teenagers, families with children who have special needs and elderly singletons who still have a very active interest in helping out in the community.
Some are employed, some are full time ‘volunteers’, some are gardeners, boat builders and therapists, some are local councillors and some run their own businesses. What they all have in common is true grit, courage and belief that what they are building together will benefit not only themselves, their children and future generations of residents, but also the wider community in and around the town, and possibly much wider than even that.
It has taken almost 12 years to gather together the skills, the knowledge and the money to make the cohousing project happen and indeed it is happening. Through the darkest hours of 2020 a bright light has been shining at Hazelmead. The land is being transformed from a tree bordered field to terraces of beautiful eco homes with car parking around the edges, providing car free streets and a space at the centre for the common house. The project team is organising and planning fundraising over the next few months to make the Bridport Cohousing common house, the beating heart of the new community, become a reality.
Martin Hancock, CEO of BCHA, who are working in close partnership with Bridport Cohousing, said:
“In these unsettled times, it is heartening to see projects such as the Bridport Cohousing scheme making steady progress. Much hard work has gone into getting this scheme off the drawing board and to see the infrastructure taking shape and providing tangible evidence of the houses that are to come, is very exciting. This scheme is very important to us, as it will enable us to provide both shared ownership homes and social rent housing in a highly desirable location, allowing people on low incomes to be part of a very forward thinking, sustainable and friendly community.”