Image courtesy of Lewis Outing.
It was great to meet everybody who came to chat to us at our stall at the St Nicks Autumn Fayre last weekend. We spent the afternoon giving out information about cohousing, talking about Oliver House, discussing our future steps and met new people who became Friends of YorSpace. – Thank you to all for saying hello!
We really enjoyed our day – the St Nicks team did a grand job. There was a real buzz around the event. It was a great afternoon celebrating nature and sustainability. Well done to them.
For details of the annual event please see link.
We will be getting in touch with friends we made on the day soon by which time we hope to be able to give you all an update on progress with City of York Council in finding an alternative site for York’s first cohousing project.
On Thursday 25th June City of York Council announced their decision to sell Oliver House to McCarthy & Stone.
We take this opportunity to thank everybody who supported our campaign to buy and redevelop Oliver House. It has been an incredible few months and we have been overwhelmed by the kindness, commitment and conviction of those who have supported us, both locally and further afield, by attending our public meetings, signing the online petition, and contacting York councillors and Council Executive members. You are our foundation-stone; we look forward to working with you again in the future.
YorSpace recognise the difficult predicament in which the Council Executive find themselves, subject to substantial budget constraints, and under pressure to deliver ‘best value’ for local residents in their business transactions. We appreciate the motivations behind the decision to sell the site to the highest-bidder. However, we feel that this decision represents a missed opportunity for the new administration to tackle the housing crisis currently affecting York.
We strongly welcome the recommendation from Councillor Chris Steward that City of York Council work closely with YorSpace to identify alternative opportunities for the development of affordable housing, and we look forward to meeting with officers to discuss possible sites.
We look forward to developing a productive dialogue with the Council Executive in order to reexamine the approach currently taken to the disposal of public assets, and to formulate a new Local Housing Plan with Social Value at its core. We hope that in future Council assets will be utilised to create decent, low-cost, sustainable housing much needed by the residents of York.
A full recording of the Decision Session meeting is available to view here. The Oliver House decision is item 12, with coverage starting at 1:53:13. You can register your support for YorSpace by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YorSpace have been informed that the final decision on the disposal of Oliver House is to take place on 25th June, 17.30 hrs at York City Council’s West Offices.
Details of the Council Executive meeting can be found here.
We will be attending and have registered interest to speak in support of our bid for Oliver House.
We are asking our supporters to contact the Executive, by contacting the leaders of the two main parties on the links below, and impress upon them the importance of not-for-profit, community based housing in solving York’s housing problems. To show the Council how much people support, not just YorSpace’s scheme for Oliver House, but a fundamental change in Council policy towards housing and asset disposal.
Currently the Council favours capital value over social value by a factor of 3 to 1. We would like you to call on the Council to create a new policy that values the long term economic, social and community benefits of low cost housing equally to capital value and to prioritise the creation of low cost, not-for-profit, community driven housing when any appropriate council property is being disposed of.
The Council executive is made up of members of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat party. We ask you to contact the local leaders of both:
Conservative Leader – Chris Steward, twitter: email: email@example.com
Liberal Democrat Leader – Keith Aspden, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We do not believe that profit driven housing development will solve the city’s urgent and long term housing needs. We ask that City of York Council work in partnership with community benefit and not-for-profit groups to deliver much needed decent, sustainable, low cost housing.
We thank you for your continued support.
Click on image to link to press release:
“We’re looking for a culture change, …We can’t continue business as usual, this is about the city we want for the future, not about stopping a short term gap in the finances. Putting community first and valuing it over profit.”
Click on image to link to press release:
“If York is going to grow, it needs the housing base which is going to support its growing workforce.”
A public meeting is being held to highlight the lack of affordable housing in York, and suggest ways to tackle the problem.
With recent reports showing that York is the most unaffordable place to buy a home in Yorkshire, John Hocking, Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, will outline the scale of the problem for buyers and renters.
Representatives of YorSpace, the community-housing group, will explain their ideas that could help tackle the problem and spark a discussion about the role the City of York Council can play in facilitating the provision of low cost housing.
York Social hosts the meeting, and Pete Kilbane from the group will call for the planners to prioritise housing that allows communities to flourish. He said
“The Council will come under enormous pressure to sell off its property in the years ahead. We would urge them to hang on to our assets and ensure that they are used for the betterment of our communities”
“If the Council are going to transfer assets then they should do so with organisations that will maximise their social value. So on plots suitable for homes they should work with developers who will provide 100% social housing”
“These are precious belongings for the people of York and we should not just be selling them to the highest bidder, because once they’re gone they are gone forever.”
Mr Kilbane added that the ongoing sale of Oliver House in Bishophill should be stopped and the site restricted for the development of low cost community focussed homes.
Phil Bixby, from the York Environment Forum, will chair the event and contributions from the public will be encouraged in the discussion. The meeting is at 7.30pm, Wednesday 20th May in the Denham Room at the Priory St Centre.
On Thursday 19th March at West Offices, members of YorSpace and the local community made representations to Cllr Dafydd Williams and the City of York Finance and Asset management team on the disposal of Oliver House.
We are delighted that Cllr Williams has referred the decision to Cabinet, and that the council has not made a decision on a solely financial basis.
Now, more than ever, we need the community of York to join us in calling for a new direction in housing policy. City of York Council have stated their aim to reduce inequality and increase fairness, and we believe that Oliver House could be a flagship decision for a city that puts long-term community vibrancy, inclusivity and resilience at its heart.
The next Cabinet meeting is not until after city-wide local elections, and we would love you to contact your local councillors or Cllr Williams in his role as Cabinet Leader. We have a real opportunity to raise our voices and influence a decision that says a lot about who, as a community, we want to be.
If you are interested in hearing the discussions that occurred during the meeting, please follow the link to the Council’s youtube channel here:
YorSpace are delighted that we are one of the shortlisted bids for Oliver House, and that our community-minded development is under serious consideration by City of York Council.
However, we’re disappointed that the Council seem poised to accept the highest cash-value commercial bid, with no local amenity or community provision. The size of the bid together with the cost of demolition and development by McCarthy Stone suggests that the proposed retirement apartments will be sold in excess of £300,000 and will do nothing to address the demonstrable needs of local families and first-time buyers.
While we recognise the Council’s need to bridge short-term funding gaps, Oliver House is an opportunity for City of York Council to demonstrate their long-term commitment to tackling inequality. York is a vibrant city with a thriving community. But that community needs affordable homes to survive. We ask the council to look beyond short term funding constraints to a broader, more holistic vision for York as a city in the future.
The final decision will be announced by Cllr Dafydd Williams on March 19th. If you would like to express your support for YorSpace and our proposal for 14 affordable, sustainable homes with community allotments at Oliver House, you can do so by…
Following us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YorSpace
Joining the Back the bid campaign: https://www.facebook.com/BackTheYorSpaceBid
Following us on Twitter: @YorSpace
Contacting Dafyd Williams directly: email@example.com or @dafwilliams78
The full report is available here: COYC Oliver House Report
The summary of all bids is available here: Oliver House – Summary of bids
The bid evaluation is available here: Oliver House – Bid Evaluation
Click on image to link to press release:
In many ways, it would be a wasted opportunity not to let Yorspace have the building. Their proposals, if successful, could act as a model for further community housing projects …we very much hope it inspires further such community efforts in future. They really could provide a different kind of solution to our housing needs.
There is still time to persuade City of York Council to support our bid. Dafydd Williams, the Leader of the Council, will announce the Council’s decision on 19th March. Please contact Cllr Williams to demonstrate your support for our project.
Cllr William’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his twitter is @dafwilliams78
Feel free to mention any or all of the plus points of our project to the council:
- YorSpace will invest £1.8 million in new low cost and social housing at no cost to the City.
- It will create 14 new homes that are affordable to people on low to medium incomes – people who are increasingly financially excluded from the area.
- The Council will profit from the sale. YorSpace will pay CoYC for the chance to build 100% low cost and social housing
- The development will add in perpetuity to the City’s stock of low cost housing.
- It will enable older people to remain independent in their own homes for longer.
- The homes will be environmentally sustainable to Passivhaus levels of thermal performance.
- The scheme incorporates a community compost point with the potential to divert all local green waste away from landfill.
- There will be no increase in the number of private cars associated with the site.
- It creates a realistic way for people on low to medium incomes to build equity and step on to the housing ladder
- York lacks this type of housing development. The proposal represents a new way to build low cost housing and at the same time inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities.
Thank you for your support – please back the bid!