Community Owned Affordable Housing at The Park
For the last decade the need for affordable housing has been highlighted in many ways:
- Young people, especially young families, having to leave The Park as they couldn’t find a suitable home
- Increasing numbers of core workers having to commute into The Park – the costs of keeping a car placing considerable strain on minimal wage income earners
- Older community members seeking to move back to The Park as their present accommodation doesn’t allow for the social inclusion they seek for their years of increasing dependence
In a Community Survey undertaken in February 2016, 94% of 339 respondents stated that more affordable accommodation was needed at The Park. 108 respondents said that they would personally be interested in renting such housing.
25 community owned affordable homes by 2025. Our aim is to have a diverse range of properties – in size (from family homes to ‘tiny house’ single person dwellings), tenure (short-term and long term secure tenancies, shared ownership, co-housing, etc.), and design contexts (ranging from dense co-housing clusters to more secluded individual dwellings).
Currently under development
We are building a block of 6 small flats on West Whins (WW) site. And we want to complement the relatively big East Whins homes (see below) to have a wider range of properties in the portfolio. All this pointed to small one bed-room flats for the WW cluster. GreenLeaf Build and Design – our own community kids, building our future – presented the concept. They also built the terrace on WW (see a timelapse of the build and take a tour).
To put affordable housing on a sustainable footing we decided on a funding strategy prioritising borrowing within the community, through Ekopia and private loans in conjunction with an application to the Scottish Rural Housing Fund (RHF). That grant application was successful and the Scottish Ministers are supporting our project with £130,000. The funding package got a huge boost when two community members stepped forward and offered PET their pension fund as a loan (total £140K) and another came to Ekopia offering £100K.
Allocation process of these flats is presently under way. Read more ….
Supported by the Scottish Ministers through a grant from the Rural Housing Fund
The East Whins development – completed 2013
Development of private housing in The Park accelerated throughout the early part of the century on The Field of Dreams and in 2010 a larger scale development of 25 homes presented an opportunity to create community owned affordable housing through an innovative partnership with Moray Council Housing (under section 75). The resulting agreement obliged the developer (Duneland Ltd.) to provide 4 affordable units, to be purchased and thereafter allocated by the community. A group of community members formed and managed the successful fundraising campaign, which led to the purchase of the properties by PET for the community in 2012.
This original group included representatives from the following local organisations: Duneland Ltd, New Findhorn Association (NFA) Community Council, The Park Ecovillage Trust and Ekopia Resource Exchange (an Industrial and Provident Society).
Since then, PET has been managing the 4 community owned affordable homes. We were actively involved in setting up the East Whins Residents’ Association and continue to stay engaged with this amazing social engineering experiment, whilst encouraging our tenants and co-owners to take an active role in it.
We own 2 two-bedroom rental flats and 2 shared ownership houses. One of the flats has allowed a long-term community member to be cared for in the comfort of her own home, increasing her life quality tremendously as she continues to be integrated into the community where she is loved. Whilst this has not been without challenges, the learning opportunities have been invaluable. The other flat has been allocated twice. As the first tenant found their life circumstances changed, the latter allocation was to a young family of core-workers.
The 2 two-bedroom shared ownership houses were allocated to one young family and to a young first time buyer. Three of the five allocations went to Findhorn Foundation co-workers. The criteria for the allocations were set by the community, agreed by Moray Council and implemented by the Land & Housing Trust committee, which consists of representatives from the NFA, the Findhorn Foundation and Ekopia.
Being a Landlord
The Housing Group within PET is supported by the following directors and staff
- Cornelia Featherstone, Housing Director
- Paddy Atkinson, WW project manager
- Marcus Lindner, Finance and Advisor for Senior Housing
- Stephen Couling, Director
- Roger Doudna, Chair of the Board
- Anna Lutz, Housing Support