4 May 2011

Plans submitted for ‘national first’ community-led housing scheme

The local press have covered this last week the latest step in the plans to deliver sustainable, community-owned housing on the derelict Cashes Green hospital site. As regular blog readers will know this site has a long history and some of us have been to many local meetings (click on label below for previous blogs)...well it finally looks like the site will be developed....planning permission is now being sought...and the allotments are still part of it...my how many years have folk waited for them....

Photos: from press release by Hab Oakus

Hab Oakus, which is a joint venture between Mr McCloud’s company Hab and housing group GreenSquare, has now applied for planning permission to develop new and affordable housing and community facilities on the site. The plans submitted to Stroud District Council include proposals to build 78 new homes; 20 affordable homes for rent, 19 affordable homes for shared ownership, and 39 for sale on the open market by Hab Oakus. This is more homes than we had originally hoped many years ago, but sadly the finances of the project have changed so that rather than it all being affordable/shared ownership only half are now possible - not Hab Oakus' doing as this was part of the outline planning permission.

What is particularly interesting is that it appears that some of the existing old hospital buildings will be retained - this is a considerable victory for the community who long wanted this but were told it was not possible - well done Hab Oakus for listening.

In their blurb that I've been sent it also says they hope to:

·       Deliver a new building linked to community allotment gardens provided as part of the scheme.
·       Introduce a green tree-lined ‘spine’ across the neighbourhood with edible landscaping in public areas.
·       Include ecological measures to protect local bat, slow worm and badger populations.

For me what is most exciting is the community-led housing aspect...if the proposals get the go-ahead, the freehold of the affordable housing would be owned and managed by a Cashes Green Community Land Trust which is being set up with the support of Gloucestershire Land for People (GLP), a local body which supports groups who wish to develop and own housing and other amenities. People who live in Cashes Green would be eligible to join the new trust and have a say in how it operates through an estate management board. It is the first time a Community Land Trust housing project would be delivered on HCA-owned land in England.  It is expected that a decision on the planning application will be made in the summer.

Click on read more to see more of the Hab Oakus press release.
Speaking after the plans were submitted, Kevin McCloud said: “Working up the planning application for Cashes Green has been challenging and enjoyable. The consultations we held with local people revealed a great deal about the site – how people remembered the old hospital and how they valued the orchard trees and former allotments. Those views altered what we did and so the plans we're submitting keep the old three-storey building on the site and the lodge. We will be also be reusing materials that we're salvaging from existing buildings, and leaving some of the structures standing as memorable 'archaeology'. We've already conducted a survey of fruiting trees and are creating a haven for slow worms on the site now. The most exciting news is that we're going to be able to bring the allotments back into use this spring - many months before we even begin work on the adjacent hospital site - using a temporary separate entrance. I'm personally looking forward to seeing the creation of a 'One Planet' sustainable neighbourhood in Cashes Green and seeing the work we do ripple out across the existing neighbourhood, enriching the existing amenities there."

As part of the agreement, Hab Oakus intends to construct all 78 new homes to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which is a higher standard than conventionally-built houses.

 GLP chairman Max Comfort added: “We are very pleased with the involvement of local people in the consultation on this proposed scheme and we urge residents to write to the council to express their support for the planning application. We would then intend to launch the Cashes Green Community Land Trust to oversee the development and manage the site."

Gloucestershire Land for People is the umbrella Community Land Trust working with local people to establish a Community Land Trust (CLT) specifically for Cashes Green, which would ultimately own the 39 affordable homes. Under the plans, the CLT would be not-for-profit, with residents able to sit on the board and have voting rights over key decisions.

HCA head of area David Warburton said: “This project has been a great example of localism in action. The participation and commitment shown by the Cashes Green community in working up the proposals for this site has been truly outstanding and has resulted in a scheme which I know will be cherished by local people once built. It has taken a lot of hard work by everyone involved to get to this stage, but I congratulate them on putting in the effort to produce the exciting plans that have been put forward. The end result should be a long-standing derelict site replaced with much-needed new and affordable housing, which ultimately would be owned and managed by the local community.”

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