Chris Goddard, one of the directors of the Community Interest Company (CIC), said there were two main aims for the public consultation,
“First of all, we hope the consultation will provide information about what people would like to see in terms of housing development in the area and what they think of affordable self build housing. And then to find how people respond to the site preferences we’ve identified.”
The Community Self Build Housing CIC set up in Autumn 2010, with the aim of finding a site that was suitable for self-building about 20 houses – a mix of 2,3 and 4 bedroom houses. It is now preparing a business plan and anticipates that, if all goes well, the build could be finished three years from now.
The CIC aim to build the houses to at least sustainable building Code 5 although, with a budget of £80K building costs per house (excluding the cost of the land),Chris thinks they probably won’t be able to reach Code 6 (the highest sustainable building standard).
The consultation invited the public to state their preferences for different building materials and methods, but in the end, Chris said, the budget will determine what materials and methods they can afford, although they will take public preferences into account.
Information provided by the public at the consultations in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge will feed into the business plan, hopefully helping the CIC to justify what they want to achieve.
The CIC has identified a number of potential greenfield sites in Old Town, Heptonstall and Mytholmroyd for the self-build housing. At the consultation members of the public could put red, green or amber stickers on the documents for different sites, to show their preferences.This will help the CIC to narrow down its site selection.
Once this has happened, there will be further public consultations in the areas where the “final shortlisted” sites are located.
One of the potential sites that the CIC has identified is a site in Heptonstall, although a downside is that there may be asbestos pollution which would be expensive to remedy. But otherwise the site provides what the CIC is looking for – somewhere south facing, light, good for growing things and passive solar heating, part of an existing community with a school and a public transport route, and flat – which makes it cheaper to build.
The CIC is looking for Council land with the possibility of acquiring it through an asset transfer. The land would be held by a Community Land Trust so it will not be possible to split it up and it will be collectively owned in perpetuity.
Given that the Hebden Bridge Partnership Draft 2020 Action Plan for Hebden Bridge advocates building houses on the Brink Buttress site opposite the Hole in the Wall pub, at the base of the Buttress to Heptonstall, Chris and I walked out of the Town Hall to have a look at the site to see if it would be any good for the Self Build CIC.
Formerly a warren of homes, built higgledy piggledy on top of each other, the buildings were demolished in 1967. Hebden Bridge Partnership is keen to see the site used again for housing. Chris said his first thought on looking at the site was,
“It’s not big enough for what we want – we want a mix of 2,3 and 4 bed houses, with space for allotments and gardens. But we wouldn’t necessarily rule it out, as suitable land in Hebden Bridge is at such a premium’.”
But maybe roof gardens and green walls would be ok instead? And green roofs can reduce flood risk…
More information about the Hebden Bridge & Todmorden Community Self Build Housing CIC is available on their website. If you missed the public consultation, you can answer the consultation questionnaire online.
Updated 23rd July to correct Chris Goddard’s quote about Brink Buttress.