In February, we visited a number of Community Led Housing projects in and around Brighton. Brighton is a city facing many of the housing issues that we see across the country and as a result individuals and families are being increasingly forced into unsuitable, private rented accommodation. Community-led housing is creating opportunities across the city and the South East, empowering people to solve their own housing need by joining forces with others in similar circumstances.
Bunker Housing Co-op is one such project. Founded in 2015, the members have spent the last 4 years formulating a plan to escape overpriced, unsuitable, overcrowded, rented accommodation and to make affordable, Community-Led housing a reality in their city. Take a look below at our visit to the site on a snowy day in February.
The project was put at risk when unexpected changes in funding costs meant that the project would have had to stop temporarily, just weeks after start on site, in order to raise more funding. This delay would have been costly and could have jeopardised the build going forward. As part of our role as a promoter of new CLH projects, we were delighted to be able to move quickly to provide Bunker with the loan stock investment they needed to prevent works coming to a halt. With this support alongside the investment of many other supporters, the project has been able to continue and in December 2018, Bunker began work on their first site: two 3-bed properties that will be rented for around £1000 per calendar month. Crucially, the co-operative will own the houses, which will be on a site leased from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). Any residents (of this or future Bunker projects) will be members of the co-op and both landlords and tenants. The long term plan is for Bunker Housing Co-op to create a series of small scale, self-build projects that will allow other families like them to take control of their housing options.
The predicament that Bunker faced in December 2018 highlighted a wider issue around the ‘gap funding’ that fledgling CLH groups often need to get through critical points in their development. We will be working with others to think about how we can encourage more people and organisations to consider small investments – building on the ‘more together’ principle of co-ops. We were delighted to support Bunker and our whole team now feels a small part of this great project. We are looking forward to seeing how the site, and the Co-operative, develops over the coming months.
For more information about Bunker have a look at their recent feature in 24 Housing: https://www.24housing.co.uk/news/brightons-bunk er-as-bridge-to-housing-gap/?fbclid=IwAR2WnNCTrK7N83nySXaPQjSOaXQ-o6KPYCvjaFSrm_pEDc1jRqzuCL7buQc