The Press

Deal close over York ‘co-owned’ housing bid

Above Pictures: Visualisations and plans for Yorspace’s site at Lowfield Green. 

A COMMUNITY homes group is on the cusp of signing an exclusivity agreement with the City of York Council, bringing its dream of co-owned housing a step closer.

Yorspace has been working hard on its hopes for a corner of Lowfield Green – the old Lowfield School site in Acomb – and a decision recently taken by city council has moved the project closer to reality.

Last week, the council’s director of housing Martin Farran approved a proposal appointing YorSpace as “preferred bidder” for community self-build housing at the old school site and paving the way for an exclusivity agreement with the group over buying the land.

YorSpace member James Newton said the group had been working hard on their plans for Lowfield Green and were excited with the progress and the support from the council. The exclusivity agreement will help them secure money by showing possible funders the project is viable.

The group has had a surge of interest in recent months and now has 60 members with around half expressing an interest in living at the Lowfield site, he added.

As part of Lowfield’s redevelopment, one acre has been earmarked for “self-build” housing with a little under three-quarters of that – 0.74 acres – making up the potential YorSpace plot, while another six plots in the current master plan for other self-builders.

The council’s formal decision notice says they considered leaving more land for individual self-builders and less for community self-build but, after talking to the public and others involved, decided it would be better for the “development risk” to devote a larger portion to community build.

At the moment, YorSpace has plans for around 19 homes – a mixture of family homes, and smaller houses and flats – housing up to 47 people, along with a community house for events, and shared growing spaces. The buildings will use environmentally friendly materials like straw bales and solar technology, and a council briefing note confirms YorSpace will run through a “mutual home ownership” model where residents buy shares in exchange for leasehold, rather than buying a home – making it more affordable.

The council deal could also see YorSpace look after green spaces on the rest of Lowfield Green, and look after them for the wider community.

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