It seems incredible that we are fast approaching “boots on the ground” stage in our Lowfield Green development. Having worked so hard for so long to realise our ambition to build permanently affordable homes in York, we are really pleased to be within touching distance of that dream becoming a reality.
Those of you who have followed us over the past 5 years will know we’ve had our ups and downs, but our perseverance and passion has paid off, and with our Share Issue going live soon, this seems like a good time to tell you how we got here.
Around 5 years ago, a group of local people, struggling to get on the housing ladder and faced with a lifetime of insecure private sector renting, realised that York, like many cities, was pricing many out of long-term affordable housing. They decided to do something about it, and the kernel of an idea formed: to build affordable homes in York for people who live and work in the City but are being priced out of the private housing market. Homes which are environmentally sustainable, below market price and in a friendly and inclusive community.
From that idea, YorSpace was formed, and grew into the exciting development it is today. We realise that balancing “affordability” with environmental sustainability is tricky, but are confident that we have struck that balance to the point that we can now offer people a home for life, affordable in perpetuity.
In 2015, YorSpace tried to acquire Oliver House, an empty retirement home in the city centre, but was outbid by a private developer. However, having sown the seed of community-led housing with City of York Council, in August 2017 we managed to secure preferred bidder status to buy the freehold of around 0.75 acre of land on the old Lowfield School site from CYC. In early 2019 we secured full planning permission for 19 homes plus a “common house” comprising eating, meeting and gathering space.
None of this would have been possible without massive amounts of thought and hard work by our volunteer directors and growing number of supporters. We are also lucky to have a strong professional team backing us, and are grateful for the support of CYC at all levels. Central to our development has been regular and in-depth community consultation, which has steered the type of homes and community people want to live in. We are delighted to report that all 19 homes have been allocated to local people of all ages and generations. YorSpace homes are truly community-led, and will be lived in and managed by the residents.
YorSpace will lease the land at Lowfield Green to a newly-formed Mutual Home Ownership Society (MHOS), Lowfield Green Housing Co-op, which will develop and manage the new homes. The MHOS is made up of residents, ensuring local control is at the heart of the development. This is a pioneering new development, a first for the UK, so we are excited at the prospect of creating something other communities can learn from across the country: Not only is YorSpace tackling a local housing crisis, it is playing an important role in creating a solution to the national housing crisis by offering a positive and sustainable alternative to the private market.
Community Share Offer
We are rapidly getting the funding in place for Lowfield Green, and an important part of this will be the sale of Community Shares. We will launch the sale in September 2019. If you want to invest in a radical new approach to providing affordable homes for the future please support us by going to https://yorspace.org/invest/