Residents in Bridport are set to benefit from 53 new affordable and eco homes in the largest affordable cohousing scheme of its kind.
Bridport Cohousing - a Community Land Trust (CLT) – has seen their 12-year dream of a permanently affordable housing scheme come true thanks to a grant from Homes England and housing provider BCHA coming on board as developers and landlord.
Building work, on what is said to be the largest cohousing project of its kind in the UK, is due to get underway. Situated next to Bridport Community Hospital, the site will consist of 26 flats and houses for social rent and a further 27 shared ownership properties. BCHA will own and co-manage the social rented homes along with 13 of the shared ownership homes, which have all been part funded through the Homes England grant.
Bridport Cohousing CLT will retain the freehold on all the land in order to ensure it is retained for local affordable housing in perpetuity. It will also develop the remaining 14 shared ownership homes.
The CLT’s Lin Scrannage, said: “It is absolutely wonderful to think after we first had the idea of building a cohousing scheme back in 2008 that we are at last now seeing that dream come true. “As a group of residents we have been determined from day one to get much needed affordable housing in our town – from raising £250,000 to buy the land, to gaining the support of Dorset Council, the town council, our MP, BCHA and Homes England.
“In the years we have been working towards this goal the need for affordable homes has just kept growing and growing. “This scheme will ensure there are affordable homes for local people now and in the future.”
The grant from Homes England has been paid directly to partner housing association BCHA to oversee the development of the site. BCHA has appointed local developers, CG Fry, to build the housing and infrastructure work on the site has got underway. The new houses and flats will be highly insulated and will have solar panels linked into an on-site microgrid with batteries, providing low priced energy to all residents.
Also on site will be a common house providing shared resources such as a dining and socialising space with kitchen, children’s playroom, office space and laundry facilities. Residents will also enjoy access to a two-acre green space for food growing and leisure activities and can benefit from a car ownership scheme. Parking will be kept to the perimeter, keeping most of the site car free and a safe space for children to play in.
CEO of BCHA, Martin Hancock, said: “We are very proud to be involved in helping to make this scheme happen after many years of perseverance by the Cohousing members to develop this innovative and truly affordable housing scheme for the people of Bridport. “There have been many challenges but we are delighted that through the considerable efforts from all partners involved everything has come together. “Now the vision and dream of so many Cohousing members to live in this community can be realised.”
Helen Bone, Growth Manager from Homes England, added: “We’re really pleased to be able to support this scheme. It’s been great to see how the community has come together to take the lead and progress this development. “Community housing offers a way for local people to take an active role in shaping their communities, and this scheme is a great example of this.”
Mike Pinney, C G Fry Contracting Director, said “We are delighted to be involved in the project and look forward to commencing on site.”
Bridport Cohousing has a Local Lettings Policy in place to ensure that the homes will be allocated fairly and transparently. Off-plan sales of the shared ownership properties are currently being marketed and the rental properties will be advertised through Dorset Homechoice, in due course.
Bridport Cohousing member, George, who with husband Stuart and their two children is hoping to move onto the development, said: “The cohousing project has given me and my family a tangible sense of hope for a sustainable ecological and affordable future in the town where we live, work and raise our family. “I have found the community warm, welcoming and respectful of all our varying needs and desires for the future. “I look forward to my children having both freedom and a voice in the way they live and to find a supportive and actively engaging home which we all invest ourselves in.”
The new homes are set to welcome their first residents in spring 2022.
People wishing to find out more about the scheme can go to www.bridportcohousing.org.uk