What have you been doing all this time?!
The YorSpace and Lowfield Green Co-op team haven't been very visible for obvious reasons over the past 6 months but rest assured we've been busy in the background as we continue to work towards bringing our low cost, low carbon community homes to Acomb.
Here's an update on the highs and lows of 2020 so far and what's on the horizon for our project at Lowfield Green!
Who's been doing what?
The Lowfield Green Housing Co-op has gone from strength to strength during lockdown. Almost all the homes are allocated and the resident community has really come together and maintained momentum despite the limitations on our community's ability to be able to meet in person, drink tea and share food!
The Co-op had its first AGM in April, which dovetailed nicely with YorSpace's own online AGM on the same evening and attendance at meetings since covid 19 hit has gone through the roof... we're seeing more of each other on screens than we did when we could in person!
YorSpace and the Co-op continue to work together in tandem and the handover of responsibility before work commences onsite is going well.
Reminding ourselves why we do what we do...
As part of this transition phase, we have re-organised ourselves into three working teams that reflect our principles. We have:
- Our community team that is focussing on establishing how life is going to function for the residents at Lowfield Green: agreeing community contracts, allocations and embedding new residents into our community
- Our affordability team is balancing our books and working hard on ensuring our resident deposits, monthly repayments and running costs are on target: working closely with lenders and funders to get our finances in place
- Our sustainability team is guided by one planet living principles as they coordinate information between our residents and consultant team: working hard to agree the materials, energy strategy and finishes for the homes
All this work has involved lots of workshops and discussions amongst the teams as we review information developed in partnership with our wonderful consultant team and our preferred building contractor, Croft Farm Construction.
Unfortunately, we are yet to hear any news on the Government's announcement on the Community Housing Fund (CHF) and this has left a big hole in our budget that we're working hard to fill. What's been reassuring is that this has really galvanised the YorSpace and Co-op community and, in addition to revisiting our build budget, a whole host of alternative finance avenues are being explored by our team as we discuss options with City of York Council, other grant funders and lenders.
The key for YorSpace is to maintain our ethos as an organisation and to ensure we balance both the principle of creating affordable homes for our residents whilst ensuring that what we build is sustainable both now and in the future.
Another source of delay is as a result of the effects of covid 19 on the construction industry, which has meant that we have not been able to gain access to the site as enabling works have been held up. It's anticipated that we will be able to gain access in October 2020 and as we await the outcome of our efforts to find alternative funding we are hopeful of being onsite this Winter.
YorSpace continues to work with our partners and over the summer have started to finalise the detailed plans with our consultants to get to an agreed contract sum and final specification for the homes. This will ensure that YorSpace and Lowfield Green Housing Co-op will be shovel ready and poised to start work onsite when our finance and funding package is agreed.
We are awaiting responses back from applications to access funding for both our innovative and affordable mutual home ownership (MHO) as well as our low carbon approach to build the homes from locally sourced, natural construction materials.
Whilst we make progress on alternative funding routes we still continue to support the National CLT Network's campaign to get the CHF extended and encourage our members to write to their MP to show support for this fund, details can be found here.
We look forward to giving our members and investors a positive update in the Autumn!
James Newton, Director