As this project is not the usual development we have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any further enquiries please get in touch at [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
We have purchased the land on the corner of Hunts Road and Pershore Road to the right of the British Oak pub.
Who is involved?
Stirchley Co-operative Development (SCD) has been developed over the last seven years by local workers co-operatives Birmingham Bike Foundry, Loaf Bakery & Cookery School and Artefact Projects along with local housing co-operatives. We are supported by GreenSquareAccord, a housing association with a track record of building cost-conscious ecological co-operative housing, as a consultant on this project.
We bought the land outright from Seven Capital and are not part of the 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.
This co-op structure means we will never be a buy-to-let development as individual flats are not for sale and cannot be privately owned.
Effectively, once the mortgage is paid, the building is owned and run by the members, 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 subsidises the development of affordable housing. The other half will be a mortgage from an ethical lender. Rents will cover the mortgage, maintenance and management costs.
In the period before construction we’ve received funding from Power To Change (through The Big Lottery Fund), to help us get started. This fund has helped us develop as a new co-op through training, facilitation, and capacity building. We’ve also received a grant from the Homes England Community Housing Fund, a government scheme designed to foster community led housing developments, like ours. This fund enabled us to employ the various professionals needed to get our plans ready for submission.
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 registering with Homes England as a provider of affordable housing and will have to abide by their criteria.
- GreenSquareAccord, 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 “sheltered” housing where support is given to vulnerable adults. This is simply housing that is kept affordable to those otherwise at risk of financial exploitation by landlords. We’re also not a ‘HMO’.
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 property-owner) and agree to the mutually agreed rules of the co-operative. Within reason, we will prioritise people already living or working in the local area in need of long-term 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.
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, as well as shared responsibility for managing it. There is an understanding that members will need to contribute a small amount of time to the overall running and management of the project.
As a 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 four wheelchair accessible flats and hope to take into consideration people with a variety of access needs. All flats are accessible via a lift. 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, aided by the community-focussed activities in the businesses below.
You cannot own a car when you become a member.
Can I have a pet and live here?
We understand that prospective members may own a pet of some kind when applying to live in the co-operative. Housed members may also decide that they would like to own a pet after moving in. We have developed a policy on pet ownership that consists of the following key points.
Cats: Only indoor cats will be accepted. Dogs: Assistance dogs are permitted. Emotional support dogs and companion dogs will be considered on an individual basis and we may refuse membership if the number of dogs present is deemed too high. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times within the site and cannot be taken onto the roof terrace. They should also be discouraged from fouling in the ground floor outdoor spaces. Other pets: All other pets will be considered and we may ask to visit your current home to assess this. All members who wish to own a pet after moving in will need to meet the criteria above and apply to the general meeting before acquiring the animal.
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.
- 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 worker 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?
Please be aware that architectural renderings are simplified and do not show the details of the materials to be used.
Why is there no car parking?
With the exception of disabled drivers, we will operate a no-car-ownership policy. Stirchley has good public transport links with multiple bus routes, a train station (with another on the way) and at least two car-share services. There are three safe cycle routes to the city centre close by and Birmingham Bike Foundry will support residents with bike maintenance.
This is in line with Birmingham City Council’s Parking Policy (p66).
Car ownership is a luxury and not a right. We have found that the majority of people in need of affordable housing do not own a car. We support active travel and the use of public transport wherever possible to support healthier living and better well-being for the whole community.
When will this happen?
We started construction in June 2023 and are due for completion in autumn 2024.