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Devon’s Community Starts Exciting Self-Build Project

Local families and couples are in the process of building six detached homes in a community self-build project in Broadhempston near Totnes.

Each property in the development will have with three or four bedrooms and the properties will be insulated with straw and heated using sunrooms.

Four years ago the Broadhempston Community Land Trust was set up to assist local residents who required housing to build their own affordable homes. The scheme could only be used by families and couples renting within a two-mile radius, provided they had ties to the village.

Participants on the scheme think it is the best available option to get the property ladder due to the high cost of homes in the UK particularly when housing in Broadhempston is very expensive, and no one who is doing a regular job can afford to buy their own home.

The project, which has an anticipated completion date of September 2015, was financed by a £900,000 loan.

The freehold on the land will be owned by the trust, which will also retained 25% of the value of the properties. It’s a setup which it hopes will make the houses affordable as well as available to local residents.

Two members of the team have quit their jobs in order to devote all their time to the project.

Although professional supervision is present on-site, Ms Bedford believes that the undertaking will be challenging. She said that finishing everything on time will be tight, so any and all volunteers will be welcome to assist.

The number of community self-build projects has been growing in recent months, and many of them have a decidedly green emphasis. They include established communities such as the Findhorn Foundation to self-build groups such as Ashley Vale in Bristol and the community self-build project in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.

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There are a number of strong ecological advantages with community self-build, compared to the traditional standards for housebuilding. These include bigger energy savings, sharing of communal facilities, advantageous transportation arrangements, local food production, and shared recycling.

Community self-builds also offer a different ownership model that many find appealing. Some people prefer to not be saddled with a 20-year mortgage: this is the case in European countries, where the ownership model is less of an ideal. Others like the idea of participating in a collective enterprise, and some older residents welcome the prospect of living closer to their families and community.

There are presently several government initiatives in place that support community self-build:

  • Community Right to Build: These new measures assist with planning permission, allowing communities to build new homes, businesses, and facilities without dealing with the usual planning application process.
  • Community Land Trusts: Community groups outside London can apply for financial assistance to help them get established, put development proposals together, and submit a Community Right to Build Order.

A newer government housing strategy is Laying the Foundations, which requires local housing authorities to assess the probable needs of local self-build groups, determine which potential build sites are under their control, and make them available for development.

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