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We’re back on site

Co-operative housing isn’t new. You’d need to  go all the way back to the mid 19th century and  the Rochdale Pioneers if you wanted to uncover the movement’s earliest roots. But regardless of how novel the idea might be to some, in the turning chaos of 21st century living, affordable, environmentally sustainable, and democratic alternatives are very much needed. 

So when, after the better part of a decade of planning, work started in June 2023 on the Stirchley Co-operative Development with Tricas as lead contractor, an almost audible sigh of relief could be heard whistling its way down the high street. “We’re living through difficult times which is a direct result of failing systems that glorify individualism” says SCD chair and  member of Birmingham Bike Foundry Matthew Cox.

There have been doubters; people for whom the concept appears too radical to succeed. But for the most part people in the community have either fully welcomed the construction, or have at the very least been open to listen to why such a project is vital for community regeneration and growth within the area.  

You may have noticed that since January (2024) work on the site has come to a standstill. Only the big yellow crane seeming to shift and swing its arm with the direction of the wind these past months. Up until this point everything was on track for the proposed autumn  2024 finish. The groundworks had been completed, ground floor steel frame erected, and finally the first timber apartment modules were  appearing in a flurry of activity. 

Then in February, Tricas filed for insolvency and appointed an administrator to liquidate their assets. It cannot be denied that this was a massive blow to the progression of the project. Our co-operative values and skills were tested, our resilience had to thicken in the face of such a huge set-back. But we’re extremely happy to announce that everything is now back on course (albeit with a slightly adjusted completion date). 

Since the hold up, we’ve been working closely behind the scenes with GreenSquareAccord and their in-house contractor has agreed to complete the remainder of the work. We wanted them to be involved in the construction from the very beginning, but since our ground floor contains large amounts of steel and glass work for the commercial units, and they specialise in timber frame construction, they were not a viable option at first. Ironically, now that all the steel work is in place, they’re not only able to pick up where Tricas left off, but are also able to keep to our original budget and plan.  

Alina, member of Birmingham Bike Foundry and a housing member, stressed the importance of the development in regards to the three established co-ops waiting to move into their new ground floor units. “Our business is growing rapidly, especially now we’re stocking  electric cargo bikes. We can’t wait to be in the new fit-for-purpose shop space.” 

Thankfully we’ve lost no money, just time. An inspection of the site and the condition of the existing materials took place recently and revealed only minor damages to some of the panels which were left exposed to the elements whilst talks were ongoing. The crane is no longer a flamboyant weather vane, on Wednesday 1st May it started booming panels into place once again. The contractor is looking to have the roof on before July if the weather  plays ball, and with that milestone met we should be on course for an April 2025 move in date.  

This set back was out of our hands. Rising costs and overheads are affecting all sectors but particularly when it comes to construction. With the support of GreenSquareAccord the Co-operative members and the wider community, we’ve met this new challenge head on and secured the future of the project. 

Let us all enjoy watching the new building take shape once more.