Embargoed until 7am, 02 April 2012
Building starts on the UK’s first affordable green cohousing project in Leeds
At 2pm on Monday 2nd April, a ‘ground breaking’ ceremony will be held at the former Wyther Park Primary School on Victoria Park Avenue in Bramley, West Leeds to mark the beginning of works on the UK’s first affordable, green cohousing project in the UK, called Lilac.
Building work has started in Leeds on a unique affordable housing development that will see the future residents help to build their new homes built from strawbales and timber. LILAC is a “cohousing” project which is self-funded by its members with assistance from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and The Department of for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Leeds City Council has supported the project by offering the LILAC group a deferred purchase option on the former school site in the Bramley/Kirkstall area.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing said:
"It is fantastic to see this kind of project starting in Leeds. It is something totally different for Leeds, and no doubt a project that will inspire others across the city to be involved in similar ideas. The project will provide additional affordable housing, which is certainly much needed. But more than this, it will allow people to be involved in building their own homes which will enable them to live the lifestyle of their choosing, with minimal impact on the environment.”
The 20 new homes are owned and managed by a fully mutual co-operative housing society. They are built around a community ‘common house’ designed with shared cooking, eating, laundry, leisure and meeting facilities, many open to the surrounding community, that will allow all members of the community to live together in a way that will drastically reduce its their carbon footprint.
Tash Gordon, the treasurer of the project said:
‘It is amazing to finally get on site and be building the UK’s first genuinely affordable and green cohousing project. It is not only amazing for us the residents. This is a new model for affordable co-operative housing and we want to work with other groups in Leeds and beyond who want to do this for themselves.’
The contractor, Lindum Construction, have started on the foundations on site, but the walls are being assembled off site at a “Flying Factory” with assistance of LILAC members. Using an approach pioneered by the firm Modcell, the walls are made from strawbales, timber frames and lime render to provide a super-insulated, energy-efficient and renewable alternative to traditional building materials. The Modcell system has been used for schools and public buildings in the UK but this is the first residential project of its type. The homes are planned to be occupied by the end of November 2012.
Simon Gregory, Managing Director of Lindum Construction, said:
“We are delighted to be constructing this very exciting housing project - the first time in the UK that a complete housing development has been constructed using the Modcell prefabricated panels with strawbales to provide insulation. We are committed to improving the environment so a pioneering housing scheme like this, designed to encourage living as ‘lightly’ on earth as possible whilst addressing the need for affordable housing, is a great project to be part of and builds on our reputation for constructing sustainable affordable housing.”
Richard and Lucy Thompson, who recently joined the scheme with their 2 year old daughter Amber said:
‘we are very excited about moving in to Lilac. With very low energy bills, a beautiful, safe car free space for our little daughter to play with her friends, and lots of lovely neighbours around this really is the dream place to bring up a family. There are only 2 remaining houses and we expect a lot interest now people can see these amazing affordable eco-homes going up.’
For more information contact Paul Chatterton, Secretary of Lilac MHOS Ltd on 0789 4340531 or tweet http://twitter.com/lilacleeds
Notes to editors:
The ceremony will take place at 2pm on Monday 2nd April 2012 at the Lilac site which can be found between Victoria Park Avenue and Kirkstall Mount, just off Broad Lane in Bramley, Leeds. For media interested in attending please get there early from around 1.30pm. In attendance will be members of the project, both adults and young children, local residents, and representatives from professional and statutory bodies who are involved in the project. Case studies of 8 of the households are at www.lilac.coop/about-lilac/about-our-members and most are available for interview.
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England. Our vision is to create opportunity for people to live in homes they can afford in places they want to live, by enabling local authorities and communities to deliver the ambition they have for their own areas. See http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/newsevent
LILAC, stands for Low Impact Living Affordable Community. It is a fully mutual co-operative society registered in the UK. See www.lilac.coop
Stay up-to-date by following LILAC on Twitter.
Lindum is a construction company owned by its employees and was recently announced as the top construction company in the UK to work for in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies list 2012. For more information about Lindum visit www.lindumgroup.com.
Modcell is a company co-founded by pioneering eco-architect Craig White from White Design Associates, who are also the project’s architects. See www.modcell.com
Lilac is holding a Learning Day workshop to share its model on 10th May in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds.