Right to Build Task Force announces advisory support for London Older Lesbian Cohousing and a commitment to work with the new Community Led Housing London Hub

At the Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the Potential of Custom & Self Build Housing held in London on 10 May, the Right to Build Task Force announced further action to support Custom and Self Build housing opportunities through community-led projects.

The Task Force will be advising the London Older Lesbian Cohousing (LOLC) group, which is working to create an intentional and innovative community of 20-25 homes, including communal living spaces. The London Older Lesbian Cohousing group is being supported by Waltham Forest Council and Locality, the national network that supports community organisations, through their Early Stage Support Programme, funded by the Nationwide Foundation.

Founded in April 2016, the group is using a cohousing model to create a caring environment for older living that offers an alternative to conventional approaches to retirement. The shared values and community facilities common to cohousing make it an excellent choice for a group of people with diverse life experiences but similar ambitions for an autonomous yet supported stage of life. It offers a solution for interdependent living underpinned by a community ethos, which helps limit the isolation that can come with aging.

To maximise the potential benefits to LOLC and similar projects, the Right to Build Task Force has announced that it will be working closely with the new Community-led Housing London resource and advice hub.

The Task Force will first work with LOLC to develop a site specification to identify potential locations for their new homes and create a shortlist of delivery partners before selecting a funding model and moving forward with design and delivery.

Anyone looking to set up their community-led housing group should sign up to the Right to Build registers in the areas they are considering, by visiting the Right to Build portal at www.righttobuildportal.org.

The Right to Build registers are a vital tool to help individuals or groups source land to build their own homes, supporting local authorities with the evidence they need as they work to permission sufficient plots for those on their registers. Both the Community Land Trust Network (www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk) and UK Cohousing (www.cohousing.org.uk) can help with finding existing groups to sign up with, or with developing a new group.

Jude Watson, LOLC member said: “It’s great to have the support of the Right to Build Task Force to help us progress to our next stage. We are now a company and have developed our business plans with help from the Task Force and the Community Led Housing London. We are developing our site and design specs further, ready to work with housing provider partners. It’s great that our ‘intentional’ community for older lesbians is being recognised as a way forward for diverse older housing communities.”

Mario Wolf, Director of the Right to Build Task Force, said “We have a significant lack of diversity in the housing opportunities available to older people in our housing market. Custom and Self Build housing offers older people a better choice of accommodation and can help them to live independently for longer and help reduce costs to our social care and health systems.

“Senior cohousing schemes like the recently completed New Ground project in High Barnet really show what can be achieved in such projects and how they can create affordable, high quality homes which improve the quality of life of our older citizens whilst freeing up more homes for other buyers.”

“The Right to Build Task Force is committed to working with and supporting more community groups to build their own homes – it is central to our work and legacy ambitions, and we will be working with Community Led Housing London to further this. I would encourage all groups who think they can benefit from our help to contact us and sign up to their local Right to Build registers so that councils can take their needs into account when making land available.”

The Right to Build Expo, London, was the latest in a series of regional events showcasing the Task Force’s knowledge and experience in the Custom and Self Build housing sector. The Right to Build Expo, London was part of National Custom and Self Build Week, 7-13 May, and took place at Grand Designs Live.

The Expos offer valuable support to help local authorities progress their Right to Build duties and demonstrate the potential the Right to Build registers have as a vehicle for driving the delivery of new homes.

Speakers at the event included Michael Holmes, NaCSBA Chair; Mario Wolf, Task Force Director;  Chris Brown, Executive Chairman and Founder, Igloo Regeneration; Marije Raap, Self-build Delivery Project Manager, Amsterdam City Council; Paul Maddock, Senior Associate, Senior Architect at HTA Design LLP; Patrick Devlin, Partner, Pollard Thomas Edwards and Levent Kerimol, Project Director of Community Led Housing London.

Learnings from real projects included the Peoples’ Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (PEACH), the Hafer Road project (Adam Street) and Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS). The event was sponsored by BuildStore, which also presented about finance and mortgage availability on the day.

The regional Expos are an important aspect of the Right to Build Task Force’s remit to build capacity for bringing forward Custom and Self Build housing, and are delivered in partnership with NaCSBA and Wood for Good. The next Right to Build Expo: unlocking the potential of Custom and Self Build housing (Scotland) will take place in Glasgow on 20 June 2018 at The Lighthouse, followed by Fareham on 6 September.

Local authorities and stakeholders can find out more about the Right to Build Task Force and the Expos at the Right to Build Toolkit at http://righttobuildtoolkit.org.uk

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