Located in Bristol, Ashley Vale Community Group’s project, ‘the Yard’, is an interesting and inspiring example of a community self-build project. The two acre site, previously a scaffold yard, was bought in the 1990s by a group of self-builders determined to replace it with something more ‘home grown’; not a standard mainstream development. They were keen to find a way to build housing that was affordable to local people.
The group raised money to buy the land mainly by means of individual self-build mortgages. They also received some financial support from a housing association who intended to build affordable housing for the elderly on the site. But unfortunately, the housing association backed out of the development after the project had started and sold their land back to the self-build co-operative.
The self-builders were keen to minimise the environmental impact of construction and running of their new homes. When developing their plans, they consulted with an energy advisor who helped them to design the site in a way that would reduce heat loss. They also provided sustainability advice to the self-builders in terms of energy efficiency, renewables and sustainable construction materials. To reduce their environmental impact further it was decided that the existing concrete slabs covering the ground would be left and used as foundations.
Ten years after the project started, the site now has 41 homes. In addition, the space includes a community centre, workshops and a village green. There is a strong sense of community with a recent resident survey showing high levels of satisfaction amongst those living in the neighbourhood.
More information on the Ashley Vale Community Build is available on the Ashley Vale Action Group website.
Image © Changeworks