About the Project

Stirchley Co-operative Development (SCD) is a group of local housing and worker co-operatives who are building an affordable and eco-friendly residential and retail premises in the heart of Stirchley. We plan to develop land on Pershore Road to house three local businesses along with 45 apartments.

You can view the full planning application on the Birmingham Council planning portal at https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/planning with the reference 2019/10502/PA.

Once you have a good idea of what we’re planning, we’d love for you to leave a comment on the planning portal. We have prepared a guide to doing this here.

You can contact us by emailing info@stirchley.coop but please be aware that during the Coronavirus outbreak we are busy keeping our businesses alive and serving the community as best we can, so replies may be delayed.

We also have a Twitter and other social accounts will be active soon.

We have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any further enquiries please get in touch.

Where?

We are purchasing the derelict land on the corner of Hunts Road and Pershore Road to the right of the British Oak pub.

Who is involved?

SCD has been developed over the last decade by local workers co-operatives Birmingham Bike Foundry, Loaf Bakery & Cookery School and Artefact Projects along with local housing co-operatives, Federici and Gung Ho. We are working with Accord, a housing association with a track record of building cost-conscious ecological co-operative housing.

We are buying the land outright from Seven Capital and will not be part of their development around Hazelwell Lane.

While we are a co-op, we are not affiliated with “The Co-op” supermarket chain.

How will it be managed?

The building will be owned by SCD whose membership is comprised of and restricted to the residents and businesses occupying it.

The building will be run on Somerset Rules for Co-operative Societies with a constitution agreed to by all members. Regular meetings with votes fairly distributed will decide on issues as they arise.

Effectively, once the mortgage is paid, the building is owned and run by the tenants, for as long as they remain tenants.

Where’s the money coming from?

Roughly half of the building costs will come from Homes England, the government body that funds the development of affordable social housing. The other half will be a mortgage from an ethical bank or building society. Rents will cover the mortgage, maintenance and management costs.

What is “affordable” and how is that achieved?

Affordable Housing” is an official term for housing that meets certain criteria such as charging rents below market rates. We are registered with Homes England as a provider of affordable housing and will have to abide by these criteria.

In addition:

  • Accord, our partner, specialise in affordable housing, both in the construction and running of the building.
  • Energy efficiency, from insulation to solar panels, will keep running costs down.
  • In the event of SCD generating a surplus, any profits will be reinvested in the building, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

We are not providing “social” or “sheltered” housing where support is given to vulnerable adults. This is simply housing that is kept affordable to those on a minimum wage, many of whom are key workers.

Can anyone live there?

There will be criteria for living at SCD, the main one being you must be in need of housing (ie, not be a home-owner) and agree to the mutually agreed rules of the co-operative. Within reason, we will prioritise people already living in the local area in need of decent affordable housing.

Anyone can apply to live in the housing provided by SCD and there will be an application process for any prospective tenants. If you would like to be informed when applications are open, please send an email to info@stirchley.coop.

Anyone who becomes a tenant also becomes a member of the co-operative and has democratic input (via voting) into the management of the building. There is an understanding that members should contribute a small amount of time to the overall running and management of the project.

As a registered provider of affordable housing we will be accepting applications from the Birmingham council waiting list which will be dealt with through the same process.

We will be providing a number of wheelchair accessible flats and hope to take into consideration people with a variety of access needs. We will also be child and family friendly.

Community cohesion is important to us and we will encourage and help members new to the area to get involved in the many groups in Stirchley.

What businesses will be operating from the ground floor?

The ground floor of the building is being designed around the needs of the three founder workers co-ops, allowing for changes of occupancy over the 50 years of the building’s minimum lifespan.

  • Birmingham Bike Foundry is a cycle repair shop. It will house a workshop and retail areas.
  • Loaf is a bakery and cookery school with a kitchen, shop and classroom.
  • Artefact Projects is a community art space housing exhibitions, performances, meeting spaces and a cafe/bar.

All three will see their space and activities expanding significantly. In the event of a founder business leaving, future occupant businesses must be constituted as a workers co-operative.

SCD itself aims to establish a “centre of excellence” for co-operative businesses in the region, encouraging more workers co-operatives in Stirchley by offering advice and support. In the long term we are interested in undertaking further developments in the local area, particularly in housing.

How will this benefit Stirchley?

We see benefits coming in a range of ways.

  • Our building will be a long-term asset contributing to the regeneration of the area, sensitive to the past and ambitious about Stirchley’s common future.
  • We offer a sustainable alternative to private rental, tackling local housing issues by providing affordable accommodation and work space under common ownership.
  • Over the last decade we have helped drive locally led development in Stirchley, creating a commercial environment and customer base for new businesses to establish on the high street while respecting the history and heritage of Stirchley.
  • Stirchley has a 150 year history of co-operative organisations, from Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society (TASCOS) to the present day. We aim to create a “centre of excellence” for co-operatives in the Midlands assisting new and established organisations to adopt a sustainable co-operative model.
  • With the exception of disabled drivers, we will operate a no-car-ownership policy, encouraging cycling, public transport and car-sharing, helping to normalise car-free living in Birmingham and reduce congestion.
  • The building will be as environmentally conscious as possible within the constraints of the budget. Ancillary plans include community composting, a kitchen garden and roof-top bee-hives.

What will it look like?

Our initial plans have been submitted to Birmingham City Council’s planning portal and can be viewed at https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/planning with the reference 2019/10502/PA.

Please be aware that architectural renderings are simplified and do not show the details of the materials to be used.

Why Four Storeys?

We feel strongly that the desperate need for affordable housing in Birmingham should be taken into account when considering the height of the building. 

A four storey building is unusual on Stirchley high street but is permitted under council regulations for affordable housing near a train station. We need four storeys for the following reasons: 

  • To be financially viable we need a certain density of flats to keep the rents below market rates. 
  • To preserve the privacy of the gardens on Hunts Road we need to build away from that boundary.

We are happy that the design of the building does not loom and is sympathetic to the surrounding area. We are commissioning more accurate architectural renderings to make this clear. 

Why aren’t you keeping the existing buildings?

Sadly the existing buildings on the corner of Hunts Road are not in a decent condition and will need to be demolished.

When will this happen?

Subject to planning approval we aim to start construction in 2020 and be open in 2022.

How can I help?

As we do not have the muscle of a large corporate developer, we need to strengthen our case through demonstration of local support. It would be great if you could let the council know via the planning portal and, if you’re local, let our MP and councilor know.

You can also help by spreading the word to people you feel would be interested and/or sympathetic to our project so they can support it.