Join us on Saturday 15 July for an open day of six housing co-operatives in Brighton & Hove, each with its own story. This is a chance to see some of the ways more genuinely affordable housing has been created in the city.
Please turn up at any of the houses at 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm (Rosa Bridge is just 1pm) for the tour of the house/flat, kindly offered by one of the residents who can answer questions and give an overview of the co-operative’s history.
Members of MAIS will be at Coachwerks in Hollingdean between 12.30pm and 6pm to answer any questions and provide information. Drop in for a drink and a chat. More on Coachwerks here: http://coachwerks.org/
Two Piers is a permanent ownership housing co-operative, Brighton’s largest housing co-op. It provides affordable housing for 68 single people, including parents, in shared and self-contained flats and houses in several locations across the city.
The Christchurch flats are very central, close to Western Road. There are eleven flats, of various sizes, in two blocks facing each other across a small paved garden, which boasts a fishpond and lovely pergola.
Christchurch is on the site of an old church which was demolished. The Two Piers build started in 1985 and tenants moved in two years later. The housing was designed by Michael Blee, who closely followed the Co-op’s brief of providing a highly communal building, basing his ideas on rural villages in India and Mexico.
There is a ‘gazebo’ in the garden, used for meetings, band practice, children’s parties, meditation, and which currently houses the co-op’s archives and library.
There will be a sign on the door of Christchurch so you can contact the resident who will show you around her flat. The flat is accessible on ground floor but there are stairs to the toilet. Neighbours with no stairs can let people use their toilet if needs be.
More info: http://twopiers.coop
Bug Housing Co-operative was formed in 2005. It is situated in Higher Bevendean and currently house six members as well as the resident cat Jasper.
Bug is a fully mutual co-op which means that all decisions are made by members, generally at monthly meetings. Each member has their own co-op role(s), these may be taken on as an individual, shared or swapped by general agreement. The roles are treasurer, secretary, maintenance, garden, allocations, household and development.
Living within a co-op provides individuals with both affordable and secure housing. Bug believes in creating a supportive environment for all members in order for both members and “the co-op” (as a home, house and business) to thrive. When a vacancy arises they send an advert out through both the CHIBAH and Permaculture networks. Applicants that meet the criteria are invited to interview and successful applicants are taken on with a three month probationary period before becoming full members.
Unfortunately access to Bug is impossible to anyone in a wheelchair; they are situated up a hill, with a small mulch slope and four steps to access the front door.
More info: Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Out of Town (Fiveways)
Out of Town housing co-op owns two properties housing 17 people (plus various dogs, cats and chickens). They have owned one house for eight years and the other was bought more recently to rehouse members from two properties which had to be handed back to the council after the end of a ten year lease.
Out of Town is a member of Radical Routes, which is a mutual aid network of radical co-ops whose members are committed to working for positive social change.
More info on Radical Routes: http://radicalroutes.org.uk/
The four founder members set up Hornbeam housing co-operative in 2011. They had been renting together for many years and dealing with all the insecurities that come with it before deciding to set up a housing co-op. As well as the insecurity of renting they set up Hornbeam to move away from property ownership, whilst still allowing people to be in control of their housing, giving people on a low income a stable place to live. The rent, which is well below market value, has also enabled members to move towards a more healthy work/life balance.
Hornbeam wants to show people that it is possible to live another way, believing that living communally is not only better for people but also the environment. They managed to secure a grant from the Government’s Empty Homes scheme and bought a property in Bevendean in early 2013.
The members did a lot of work and renovation on the property and Hornbeam is now a six member house, continuing to develop the property in the most sustainable way possible. There has only been a few changes in membership over the last few years but those who have left are still friends of the co-op and last year a baby arrived which has been fantastic. Hornbeam’s ethos of mutual aid and cooperation continues.
Rosa Bridge is a small, queer, feminist co-op of five members, set up in 2014 with the help of a grant from the DCLG’s Empty Homes Programme. It is part of an old dairy in the Tarner area of Brighton.
Rosa Bridge aimed to take housing, especially in the city centre, away from private ownership and to be part of creating different alternatives to notions of ‘home’.
The house is up a steep hill, 10/15 minutes up or down a hill to bus stops and shops. There are three shallow but awkward steps to get into the house, and doorways are slim. All the communal areas are across the ground floor and there are no steps in the ground floor.
Brighton Rock Housing Co-operative consists of three terraced houses with four inhabitants living in each house, the gardens are joined at the rear and are communal.
The houses have limited access for wheelchairs due to the width of doorways.
More info: https://brightonrockcoop.org/