Tag Archives: co-operatives

Bunker Housing Co-op starts work on its first houses

An affordable, secure home is something that can seem out of reach for too low income many families in Brighton & Hove. But Bunker Housing Co-operative is making that dream a reality as it starts building its first two houses, in East Brighton. Bunker celebrated on Saturday 8 December, alongside its investors and supporters and members of Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT).

Bunker members are self-building their houses, with the help of architects, and other construction professionals. They are using a modular system and a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) super structure. Run as a co-operative, the rent will be just £1,000 a month, per three bedroomed family home. The co-operative will own the houses, which will be on a site leased from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). Any residents will be members of the co-op and both landlords and tenants.

Watch this short video for more on the Bunker story

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Brighton families start work on self-build project costing £225,000 a house

15 November 2018

Photo opportunity: Bunker Housing Co-operative celebration event
Saturday 8 December 2018, 2.00-5.00pm. The Edge Community Centre, 83 Pankhurst Avenue, Brighton, BN2 9AE. Arrive by 2.15pm for the opportunity to see the Bunker site
on Plumpton Road, a five-minute walk away.
There will be food and drinks.

Bunker Housing Co-op has begun self-building its first affordable and environmentally friendly homes for low income families on its first site in the Queen’s Park area of Brighton. The rent will be just £1,000 a month, per three bedroomed family home.

Bunker encourages others to sign up to the Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register to show the demand for this kind of project in the city.

With the help of architects, and other construction professionals, Bunker have started building their homes using a modular system and a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) super structure. The project is set to be a great example of what is possible with self-build community-led housing.

Martyn Holmes and his partner Agata Bogacka, who live in Brighton with their two children, co-founded Bunker with another family in 2014. They had spent five years trying to find ways to secure affordable housing in the city. The idea developed as they chatted with their neighbours over the garden fence. Living in damp, cramped and overpriced private rented accommodation, both families, despite working full time, were struggling and fed up with their housing situation.

Bunker have leased their first site, on Plumpton Road, from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). They have a 99-year lease and are making use of a difficult site that a commercial developer wouldn’t be attracted to. They are working with architects from AURAA Studio in London, who have experience in smaller sights, specialise in bespoke sustainable architectural design and most importantly understand and enjoy the challenge of working on community-led developments.

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is encouraging people who support projects like Bunker to join the local Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register with Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). Registering is a good way of improving the chances for Brighton residents to self/custom build their own homes.

People in England have the Right to Build, as set out by legislation announced in 2015 and updated in 2016. The Right to Build requires all councils to maintain a register of individual and groups of individuals who want to build their own home. It places a duty on them to grant sufficient development permissions for serviced building plots to meet demand on a rolling three-year basis.

BHCLT is a central resource for community-led housing in Brighton & Hove, including housing co-operatives, cohousing and self-build projects, developed through local people working together. Our work to support community-led housing is being supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) through the Community Housing Fund.

Bunker, whose members are low income, mostly self-employed people in Brighton & Hove, now have eight adult members, along with several children. They hope to acquire a second site soon, in order to expand their project and house more of their members, all of whom are currently living in private rented accommodation.

Martyn Holmes, Bunker co-founder and soon to be Plumpton Road resident said, “Bunker has given us a way out of the private rented sector which is increasingly unaffordable for so many people in Brighton. We believe that building our own community-led and owned housing is the best housing solution for our families and will allow us to stay in the city that we have helped to build. It’s been a tough journey in many ways, but it’s definitely been worthwhile, we are really excited to move into our new homes later this year and get cracking on the second site.”

Andrea Jones, Programme Manager for the Brighton & Hove Community-Led Housing Programme said, “Bunker is such an inspiring project and shows what people can do when they work together.

“You don’t need to have construction experience to do something like this; there are building projects out there led by all sorts of people, including groups of women, and people with learning disabilities.  There is loads of support available through BHCLT and nationally. People have got to start signing up for the self-build register if they want to see things change. It shows the demand that is out there for self-build plots of land.”

Registration for the Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register can be done via their website at: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/housing/general-housing/self-build-and-custom-housebuilding-register

More information about self-build community led housing and how to join the register can be found at: http://bit.ly/SelfBuildBH

For more information and to arrange local interviews with self-builders, or members of Bunker Housing Co-operative, contact Amy Hall, BHCLT Communications Officer on comms@bhclt.org.uk

 Notes for editors

  1. Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is a non-profit community-led organisation working to put housing development back in the hands of people who need it. It is one of over 280 Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in England and Wales. Find out more at: https://bhclt.org.uk/
  2. Announced in 2016, a national Community Housing Fund of £60 million was shared between almost 150 councils to help tackle the problem of high levels of second home ownership in their communities. Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) was allocated £464,500 and the fund was in turn, awarded to BHCLT in October 2017, which is acting as the lead partner in this programme of work, alongside Mutual Aid In Sussex (MAIS) to deliver the Community-Led Housing Programme.
  3. The ‘Right to Build’ places two legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:
    1. Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. Registers were required from 1st April 2016.
    2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self-build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 1 April 2016 to 31 October 2016 should be granted by 31 October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 31 October 2016 to 31 October 2017 should be granted by 31 October 2020 and so on.
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Bunker is on site! Time to celebrate

We are so excited that one of the housing co-operatives we have been working with as part of the Community-Led Housing Programme has started work on its first two houses. We will be celebrating on Saturday 8 December, 2.00pm at The Edge Community Centre in Brighton. Sign up at Eventbrite to join us.

Bunker Housing Co-op is a self-build co-operative, building affordable and environmentally friendly homes for low income families and individuals. Their first site is on Plumpton Road in the Queen’s Park area of Brighton. They are due to be able to move in by summer 2019 with a rent of just £1,000 a month, per three bedroomed family home.

With the help of architects, and other construction professionals, Bunker are using a modular system and a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) super structure. They have leased their first site, on Plumpton Road, from Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC). The project is set to be a great example of what is possible with self-build community-led housing.

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Christmas social with Co-operative Housing in Brighton and Hove (CHIBAH)

This year we will be joining forces with Co-operative Housing in Brighton and Hove (CHIBAH) for our Christmas social.

It will take place on Wednesday 12 December, from 8.00pm after the weekly group skills workshop, at the Lord Nelson pub, 36 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4ED. Come along and celebrate all we have achieved this year!

There’ll be a drink and a bite to eat for everyone, and not a post-it note in sight!

Please book your place here at Eventbrite so we know how much food to provide.


The pub has a small step in the entrance – they have told us they don’t usually have a problem with wheelchairs getting in.

The pub is close to Brighton train station, where many buses also stop.

The closest parking is Trafalgar Street Car Park.

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How to raise money through loanstock

Loanstock is a great way for people to invest in grassroots co-operative projects and for community-led housing projects to raise money using repayable loans from individuals or other organisations. Join Martyn Holmes, co-founder of Bunker Housing Co-operative on Saturday 10 November to find out more about how.

Bunker Housing Co-operative has raised over £75,000 through loanstock and are about to start work on their first two houses. Hear from Martyn about how they did it and his tips for people wanting to do the same.

The second part of the workshop will involve local housing groups discussing and sharing ideas on raising loanstock, including how to work together.

This free workshop will take place on Saturday 10 November, 1.15-5.00pm in the community room of The Bevy Pub, 50 Hillside, Brighton, BN2 4TF.

Please make sure you book your place in advance here at Eventbrite as there are limited places. The workshop is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

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Community-led housing journeys: Three groups tell their story

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) is working with around 17 new community-led housing groups as part of our Community-Led Housing Programme.

We spoke to people from three of these groups: Selby Housing Co-operative, SEASALT (South East Students Autonomously Living Together) and Lilliput Housing Co-operative about their experiences so far and the highs and lows of their journey.

Community-led housing allows local people to take control of their housing and create alternatives to the limited choices offered by the current housing market. Approaches include self-build, cohousing and housing co-operatives, all developed and run by local people working together.

Thanks to Tim Andrews Images who filmed and edited the video, as well as all the people from housing groups who took part.

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Which organisational form should your community-led housing group choose? – Video

On 12th June 2018, Andrea Jones (Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust) and Laura Moss (Wrigleys Solicitors) gave a workshop on organisational forms for community-led housing groups.

Andrea gave the first half which covered issues of ownership, power and decision-making and draws on Andrea’s PhD research data and the experiences of local community-led housing groups. Watch her half below:

(if the video above appears blurry when watching, click Settings and then Quality in the YouTube player and select the highest quality your internet connection can handle) Continue reading

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SEASALT reports back from LILAC cohousing in Leeds

This post was orginally published by Lisa Hartley of SEASALT Housing Co-operative, on their website.

On another super sunny July morning a group of us from various projects in Brighton thanks to Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust travelled up to Bramley, near Leeds to check out the LILAC co-housing project. (Low Impact Living Affordable Community). Interestingly I went to a meeting about LILAC back in 2008 when I was studying at Leeds Uni and have stayed on their mailing list so it was great to finally get a chance to see it!

We arrived in perfect timing for a big communal lunch in a lovely space outside the LILAC common house and chatted to people from across the country interested in co-housing. The common house is shared by all the member residents comprising a kitchen, dining area, bookable guest room and upstairs room for film nights, events and workshops.

The group split in two and we were shown round the site on the LILAC tour.

There are 20 households living at LILAC (37 adults and 14 children) in a mixture of houses (2,3 bed) and flats. The first residents moved in 5 years’ ago and were involved in the design and a little bit of the building work too. There is even space for individual back gardens too!

The site is on a former primary school which was knocked down and the shiny red iron gate still lines the perimeter, a reminder of its former school days that the community were keen to retain. The site was less desirable for developers due to a drain at the bottom end and this influenced the design process. LILAC received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and a grant for the timber frame from Modcell in Sweden.

Straw is the perfect building material, with a reliable surplus in the UK:

  • Just under four million tonnes of this leftover straw is produced every year by UK agriculture, according to the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (which would otherwise be ploughed back into the fields)
  • It takes about seven tonnes of straw to build a three-bedroom house with this pre-fabrication method
  • That means there is potential to grow the material for more than half a million new homes every year in British fields.

It is also the perfect insulator and significantly reduces energy bills. At LILAC they reckon by as much as 1/2. It is a natural sound proofer so you can play music and never have to worry about disturbing your neighbours. When we looked round it was indeed remarkably quiet considering how many people actually live there.

Solar energy systems have been set up which are then used to power the common house (valuing £4-5k of solar powered energy and free hot water when the sun shines with their solar thermal water system.

As we walked round the site there was a distinct sense of intentional often subtle steps that have been adopted to create a design that reflects the village feel that LILAC wanted to foster, something they refer to as ‘community glue’. There is no letter box instead residents pick up their post from the post room. Rather than everyone owning a washing machine there is a laundry as well as a shared workshop space with tools and a lawnmower. Bread is delivered from Leeds Bread Co-op twice a week. There are 4 large wooden bike sheds with space for 40 bikes encouraging sustainable transport.

There are spaces for 10 cars and an informal car sharing scheme, but it is so well designed that the car parks are hidden from view and we never even came into contact with them on the site visit. Children are safe to play as no roads run through LILAC. It is very much a serene oasis on an otherwise regular street of houses.

Food is a big part of LILAC, there is a big shared allotment space and residents can be part of the two (optional) shared dinners each week. There are figs, almonds and quince growing in the grounds. This summer has been so hot for the first time the pond had completely dried up.

Members are expected to contribute 2 – 4 hours a week, but it works very much on the principle the more you put in the more you get out. Task teams meet once a month (finance, membership, learning, food) and there is a General Meeting every two months.

LILAC is the UK’s first Mutual Home Ownership Society which delivers 100% affordable housing. The MHOS owns the homes and land and issues leases to its members. It is a complex model but one that means households take on ‘equity units’ (10% of the build, plus 10% deposit). In a unique truly equitable way members then pay 35% of their net income. At one time only two members worked full time, (the more you work the more you pay) which means people really can achieve an optimum work life balance and a much higher quality of life. Once all equity is acquired members pay just 10% of their net income. In the rare times people leave they can claim some of the money back, but importantly to avoid speculation this has been set to earnings NOT housing market prices.

The values that LILAC have so successfully fostered have emerged from a strong set of values; listening to each other, mutual respect and the community glue (socials, meals, celebration parties, skill shares and events). With almost 50 people living at LILAC an interesting concept has emerged one of ‘Dissensus‘ – learning to live with difference. People can still hold differing beliefs but work together to listen and come up with practical solutions. It felt like a neutral space where everyone has a voice. The group uses consensus decision making to work through problems, rather than avoiding them so while it takes longer, ultimately it results in a more harmonious way of living.

There is a community swap shop, fundraisers, Neighbourhood Watch and LILAC has also been used as a polling station. They feel they could do more to integrate with the community, but there is no denial they have created a strong community here.

I feel we are at a critical junction, we can complain about the housing crisis or we can do something about it. LILAC very much demonstrates how through hard work, dedication and dreaming big a vision of a better world is possible.

Find out more about SEASALT, a student housing co-operative, here at their website.

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The hunt for a kid’s co-op

On Saturday 30 June, six of the city’s established housing co-operatives welcomed the BHCLT housing co-op bus tour into their homes.

Nine year old Lilah from Lilliput housing co-operative joined the afternoon tour with a secret mission to find a kid’s co-op where the children have power and control as adults do.

She made a video about her quest and here it is:The Hunt for a Kid’s Co-op from Heidi Bachram on Vimeo.

Lilliput housing co-operative is going to create a neighbourhood of nine small, low cost homes. They are running a survey to gauge demand for the project and start a mailing list for interested parties. Find out more and fill it in here.

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Brighton & Hove’s housing co-ops give warm welcome to bus tour

Members of six of the city’s established housing co-operatives kindly gave up their time on a sunny Saturday to welcome visitors into their homes as part of our bus tour on 30 June.

Housing co-operatives are a good community-led housing model for people who wants to live in an affordable home, without a landlord and with collective control and ownership.

Brighton & Hove is home to around 16 different housing co-operatives and there are many more setting up through our Community-Led Housing Programme.

On 30 June we visited Rosa Bridge, Hornbeam, Bug, Two Piers, Dryad and Brighton Rock Housing Co-ops. The tour showed the variety of Brighton & Hove’s co-ops, from Two Piers’ Christchurch building, with 11 flats, to co-ops like Rosa Bridge and Bug which are home to a small group of people. We also saw co-ops who owned their houses and others who worked with a housing association, such as Dryad and Brighton Rock. Some co-ops were central, such as Rosa Bridge and Two Piers, whereas others were on the outskirts of the city, like Hornbeam and Dryad.

Co-operatives follow seven principles, including informing people about the benefits of co-operation, co-operating with the wider movement and acting with concern for the wider community. As part of the tour local co-ops were able to put all of these into action.

The tour was a great way for people interested in and setting up their own co-ops to find out what it’s like once you’ve moved in and how existing co-ops deal with challenges. All the co-op members who showed us around were open and honest, and learning from their experience was valuable.

Thanks to all the welcoming co-ops who let us into their homes as part of the tour. Also to the Big Lemon for driving us around.

Find out more about the co-ops which took part in the tour here

More on how to set up a housing co-operative:
BHCLT video: A talk from Helen Bartlett of Rosa Bridge
Radical Routes ‘how to’ book [pdf]

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What is it like to live in a housing co-operative? Join the bus tour on 30 June

Join us on Saturday 30 June for a tour of local housing co-operatives in Brighton & Hove, each with its own story. This is a chance to see some of the ways more genuinely affordable and co-operative housing has been created in the city.

We are working with the Big Lemon bus company who will be driving people between the housing co-ops in a minibus. There will be two tours on the day, one at 9.00am (bus leaves at 9.15am) and one at 12.45pm (bus leaves at 1pm). The bus for both tours will leave from Old Steine, bus stop S. Each tour is approximately four hours long. They will finish at Christchurch House, 25 Montpelier Rd, BN1 2LS.

Tour 1 (morning) will call at Rosa Bridge, Hornbeam, Bug and Two Piers.

Tour 2 (afternoon) will call at Rosa Bridge, Dryad, Brighton Rock and Two Piers.

More information on all the co-ops can be found below. There will be a chance to stop for refreshments in the Two Piers gazebo at the end of both tours.

Places are FREE but please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to sign up. Please let us know which tour you would prefer to go on and we’ll try and accommodate you.

The tour is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

Unfortunately, most of the properties in the tour are not accessible for wheelchairs. There is accessibility information next to the description of each co-op. Wheelchairs and pushchairs will need to be folded while on the bus. Please let us know if you are bringing a wheelchair or pushchair or if you have any questions or particular accessibility needs.

This event is one of many happening during Co-operatives Fortnight 2018.

If you would like more information about housing co-ops, please watch the workshop by Helen Bartlett from Rosa Bridge (see below) on how to set up a housing co-op.

Do you want to set up a housing co-op (or another form of community-led housing)?

Please read this page on our website on how to apply for money and support to help you set up a housing co-op (or another form of community-led housing) in Brighton & Hove. It goes over what are the criteria for funding and support. We can also help you fill in your application!

Information about the housing co-ops involved in the tour


The four founder members set up Hornbeam housing co-operative in 2011. They had been renting together for many years and dealing with all the insecurities that come with it before deciding to set up a housing co-op. As well as the insecurity of renting they set up Hornbeam to move away from property ownership, whilst still allowing people to be in control of their housing, giving people on a low income a stable place to live. The rent, which is well below market value, has also enabled members to move towards a more healthy work/life balance.

Hornbeam wants to show people that it is possible to live another way, believing that living communally is not only better for people but also the environment. They managed to secure a grant from the Government’s Empty Homes scheme and bought a property in Bevendean in early 2013.

The members did a lot of work and renovation on the property and Hornbeam is now a six member house, continuing to develop the property in the most sustainable way possible. There has only been a few changes in membership over the last few years but those who have left are still friends of the co-op and last year a baby arrived which has been fantastic. Hornbeam’s ethos of mutual aid and cooperation continues.

We have several steps down to our front door so are unfortunately not wheelchair friendly.

Two Piers

Two Piers is a permanent ownership housing co-operative, Brighton’s largest housing co-op. It provides affordable housing for 68 single people, including parents, in shared and self-contained flats and houses in several locations across the city.

The Christchurch flats are very central, close to Western Road. There are eleven flats, of various sizes, in two blocks facing each other across a small paved garden, which boasts a fishpond and lovely pergola.

Christchurch is on the site of an old church which was demolished. The Two Piers build started in 1985 and tenants moved in two years later. The housing was designed by Michael Blee, who closely followed the Co-op’s brief of providing a highly communal building, basing his ideas on rural villages in India and Mexico.

There is a ‘gazebo’ in the garden, used for meetings, band practice, children’s parties, meditation, and which currently houses the co-op’s archives and library.

The flat is accessible on ground floor but there are stairs to the toilet. Neighbours with no stairs can let people use their toilet if needs be.

More info: http://twopiers.coop


Bug Housing Co-operative was formed in 2005. It is situated in Higher Bevendean and currently house six members as well as the resident cat Jasper.

Bug is a fully mutual co-op which means that all decisions are made by members, generally at monthly meetings. Each member has their own co-op role(s), these may be taken on as an individual, shared or swapped by general agreement. The roles are treasurer, secretary, maintenance, garden, allocations, household and development.

Living within a co-op provides individuals with both affordable and secure housing. Bug believes in creating a supportive environment for all members in order for both members and “the co-op” (as a home, house and business) to thrive. When a vacancy arises they send an advert out through both the CHIBAH and Permaculture networks. Applicants that meet the criteria are invited to interview and successful applicants are taken on with a three month probationary period before becoming full members.

Unfortunately access to Bug is impossible to anyone in a wheelchair; they are situated up a hill, with a small mulch slope and four steps to access the front door.

More info: Get in touch at bugcoopbrighton@gmail.com

Rosa Bridge

Rosa bridge housing co-op

Rosa Bridge is a small, queer, feminist co-op of five members, set up in 2014 with the help of a grant from the DCLG’s Empty Homes Programme. It is part of an old dairy in the Tarner area of Brighton.

Rosa Bridge aimed to take housing, especially in the city centre, away from private ownership and to be part of creating different alternatives to notions of ‘home’.

There are three shallow but awkward steps to get into the house, and doorways are slim. All the communal areas are across the ground floor and there are no steps in the ground floor.

Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock Housing Co-operative established in 1987. It was formed out of the animal rights and squatting movements.

Brighton Rock

Our co-op consists of three terraced houses on the Hove/ Portslade border with four members living in each house. The three gardens are joined at the rear & we grow for wildlife and organic produce using permaculture principles. We have yearly communal meals and monthly meetings.

We do not have any un-housed members so generally Brighton Rock meetings consist of the twelve of us plus the occasional visitor. If you would like to attend a Brighton Rock meeting please contact us via the website.

Each member agrees to take on a role as part of their co-op membership as well as each having an equal share of the co-op wide decision making at meetings.

The houses have limited access for wheelchairs due to the width of doorways and multiple flights of stairs. If the weather is nice we will spend time in the garden which can be accessed by a side gate.

More info: https://brightonrockcoop.org/

Dryad Housing co-op

Dryad housing co-op

Dryad Is a collection of small wooden self build buildings in Hollingdean. It is set at the edge of town with shared green space and gardens in between the houses giving it a communal and rural feel. The co-op is a short life co-op and has a 20 year lease which is managed by CHISEL housing association from the Council . We are a fully mutual housing co-op and make decisions at monthly general meetings by consensus. We have officer roles and regular work days to share and manage the work of the co-op.

The houses are accessible by a steep set of steps, a small upward hill track or a uphill path with three steps. Help would be needed for anyone needing wheelchair access.

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How to set up a housing co-op video

On 17 May 2018, Helen Bartlett (Rosa Bridge housing co-op) gave a workshop on How to set up a housing co-operative. Watch the full workshop below:

(if the video above appears blurry when watching, click Settings and then Quality in the youtube player and select the highest quality your internet connection can handle) Continue reading

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