A radical approach to new homes development in Shropshire

Posted 12 July 2016 by Keith Osborne

A meeting is coming to the town of Ellesmere to inform local people about a community-led scheme of 57 new homes they can get involved with...

Plans are coming together to a very different approach to developing new homes in Ellesmere, Shropshire, with a meeting set to take place later this month to discuss the outline planning permission and how the homeowners themselves might play an essential part in the creation and design of their homes.

The 57-unit project is the brainchild of an organisation called A Fairer Society (AFS), which is hoping to pioneer this community-led approach at The Old Station Yard, a 4.35 acre site located off Brownlow Road.

Having received outline planning permission for the site, the next step for AFS is to organise a meeting to tell the public about its plans and radical approach to getting the homes built. This meeting will take place at Ellesmere Town Hall on Saturday 23 July, with two sessions running from 10.00am to 12.00noon and from 1.00pm to 3.00pm.

Peter Burke, one of the founders of AFS, says: “We have an opportunity if we work quickly to progress a scheme that would see homeowners play an integral role in designing the homes and agreeing on community facilities within the site.

“The Old Station Yard site, in Ellesmere, already has outline permission for 57 terraced and semi-detached three-bedroom homes. Under our proposals homeowners will have the opportunity to customise the internal layout and influence room layouts, sizes, fixtures and fittings, etc, to suit their way of life.

“Subject to planning consent, we also envisage that homeowners will determine how any public outdoor space is used, whether as allotments, a play area, community garden or something else.”

“As a community-led housing developer we will source land and then work to secure it using our investors, so we can then help homeowners create energy-efficient homes in a community setting. We’ll also be looking to match local price values, so that wherever possible our homes are affordable. We’ve brought together a team of consultants and experts to assist, including architects, planning consultants, sustainability experts and legal teams.

“We’ll enable the homeowners to be part of the build process and to contribute to designing the community they want to live in. They’ll be involved from a very early stage, just like a self-builder - but without the risk or headache!”

This short video gives an outline of the AFS approach:

Titled ‘Community-led housing represents the future’, the 23 July event will feature presentations by people involved in other community-led housing ventures, clean energy solutions and design as well as an exhibition about the proposed scheme and information about the organisation and its plans, which while now focused in Ellesmere, will be extended to elsewhere in Shropshire and the rest of England and Wales. Among those expected to take part are Shropshire Housing Group and Liverpool-based charity Housing People, Building Communities.

Part of the Ellesmere project involves the old Grade II listed station building itself which, although excluded from the original planning application, might be used as a community hub – another element that Burke feels underlines the unique approach from AFS to the people who will eventually live at the development. “Again, homeowners and the wider community would play a fundamental part in deciding how the former station building will be used and run, we are engaging with people so they tell us what’s needed, it really is exciting to think what’s possible,” he adds.

The aim of the event, beyond providing information to local people, is to get their interest in taking part in such a scheme and progressing it to the next stage.

AFS sees a wide appeal to this method of developing and building, with influence from the growing sector of self-build. Burke says: “Our typical customer is probably someone aged 25 to 45, a couple or perhaps a family with one or two children, and on a low to middle income. This might be their first home or a second step, and they are likely to be motivated by eco living, being part of a community and wanting village or small town living.

“We would expect people to pay a registration fee to secure a plot and a deposit before the build begins. Prior to any deposit being paid they would take part in three community visioning events focused on the overall vision, the design of the home and the design of the community.”

Find out more at www.afairersociety.com


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