Affordable housing forever! ‘Revolutionary new approach’ to home building comes to York

A visual of how the Lowfield homes would look. Image: YorSpace
9 Sep 2019 @ 8.01 am
| Environment, Housing

York has an acute housing crisis. Many people, especially younger families, are locked out of traditional home ownership.

Step forward YorSpace who, with the support of the community, will create York’s first cooperatively owned, environmentally sustainable housing that they say will stay affordable forever.

YorSpace is a community benefit society and community land trust born out of an urgent need to challenge the lack of affordable, environmentally sustainable housing in York.

According to directors of YorSpace James Newton and Imelda Havers, the market is broken and YorSpace offers an opportunity to start fixing it through a radical approach to funding, community and environmental sustainability.

It already has approval to build a 19-home mixed community at Lowfield Green, Acomb.

YorkMix met YorSpace to find out more.

Revolutionising the way homes are funded

For the first time raising finance through a community share offer will be used to create homes that are not only kind to the environment and community focused, but permanently affordable.

This innovative method of raising capital for community homes could be a potential model for the future.

YorSpace director Imelda Havers said:

  • There are many exciting features to this project. But raising money in the community for local housing really is a bit radical.

    By investing in YorSpace, local people and businesses will have a stake in future housing provision and can shape the type of homes that the city really needs.

Permanently affordable homes

There would be a community heart to the development
YorSpace has created an ownership model which is designed to be permanently affordable.

  • People who live in each development own a part of the whole development, with any equity only rising with inflation ensuring affordability for the next generation
  • Lower building costs and no developer profit means a significantly lower deposit of 10% is required on a house value of approximately 80% of the equivalent home which can never be sold on the open market for a quick profit
  • All residents will be equal shareholders of the cooperative that owns the houses, paying a monthly contribution to give them added security in tenure.

A 21st Century community

It aims to create homes for all ages
Community wellbeing is key. Residents will have strong connections with the local area and be in housing need.

The 19 homes at Lowfield Green in Acomb are YorSpace’s flagship development, and will involve a mix of housing, from one bed apartments to four bed houses to create a diverse mix of life stages and family sizes.

The residents range from young people to the retired, with one resident aged 80 setting up home with her daughter and granddaughter.

Every resident is committed to helping nurture an active community and will give time each week to make the development a thriving place to live where everyone has a say.

Sharing is also key to community cohesion including communal areas covering dining and kitchen, laundry and car share. Sharing in this way will free up space in homes, bring the community together and improve the quality of life as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint.

Decarbonising house building

Photograph: YorSpace
The homes at Lowfield Green have been designed around One Planet Living principles of sustainable living, which will limit the environmental impact of the neighbourhood being built.

Every building is being built from low carbon, bio-based construction materials which lower the carbon footprint of the fabric of the homes whilst making them both energy efficient and economical to run.

These materials have the added bonus that they create a healthy indoor living environment for residents, avoiding toxic, petrochemical based products.

YorSpace director James Newton said:

  • Our single storey common house is going to be a community self-build incorporating locally sourced straw bales.

    I’m very excited about the opportunities that these types of materials offer and I’m convinced that their performance will be better than the materials typically used in building.

The build could also offer local training opportunities and employment.

Why invest in the community share offer?

The Yorspace Lowfield Masterplan
YorSpace have just launched their public share offer – allowing interested parties to invest in the project.

By making an investment you’ll be helping shape housing development in the city to the needs of the community as well as helping to tackle the housing crisis and build momentum in an innovative community housing model in York.

Individuals can make a minimum investment of £250 to a maximum investment of £47,500 receiving a maximum return of 2.5% payable into each individual investors personal share account which can be withdrawn from 2022.

Ethical crowdfunding platform Ethex will be handling all transactions. YorSpace are looking to raise a minimum of £375,000 from the share offer.

The future

Following the successful delivery of Lowfield Green, YorSpace will continue to grow and help facilitate more community led housing in York.

James Newton said:

  • We believe our community funded, permanently affordable homes using low carbon building materials is a model for the future, and we’re keen to speak to people across the city who would like to find out more: whether that’s potential investors or people interested in joining the YorSpace residents register.