A super green and super cheap eco-village is to built west Leeds.
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An as-yet-under-wraps corner of west Leeds has been chosen as the location for the city's first co-housing project.
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The futuristic energy-saving commune will be almost completely self-sustaining – with houses built primarily from straw bales, virtually no artificial heating and recycled rainwater running through the taps.
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It will also be the first green living project of its kind to be affordable for ordinary folk – families with a minimum salary of just 16,000 can buy into its new-style shared ownership scheme.
Far from being a hippy-town – as similar schemes have sometimes been branded – the developers say LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) will be modern housing designed for city-folk – but with a green and affordable theme at its core.
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On the UK Co-housing Network website, the creators say they are building "a pioneering, carbon neutral, permanently affordable, sustainable mixed urban housing community".
If the idea takes off in Leeds, they hope it will be replicated across the country.
Alan Thornton, director of LILAC, which was formerly known as the Leeds Eco-Village, said the plan would cut energy consumption by a "massive amount".
He added: "Having something like this in an urban area is particularly rare. Certainly in Leeds and Yorkshire, there’s nothing like it.
“We believe that cities are sustainable and almost everybody lives in a city, so we want to make sure people can live in sustainable areas.”
The 20 homes in the LILAC development will be individual units, from one bed flats to four-bedroom houses.
However, there will be communal gardens and some shared resources, including a car-share scheme.
Mr Thornton said bosses were in “advanced negotiations” with Leeds City Council about a location for the project, but confirmed a site in west Leeds had been identified.
Max Comfort, from the UK Co-Housing Network, who lives in the UK’s first co-housing project Springhill in Stroud, Gloucestershire, said the authorities should subsidise more eco-villages or even gift land to green developments.
The LILAC houses will be sold under a Mutual Home Ownership Society structure.
Each family will lease a house from the company and will become an equal shareholder, paying about 35 per cent of their income for their shares.
The value will rise and fall in line with national average incomes, rather than the fluctuating housing market.
There are currently just 10 co-housing communities completed in the UK according to the UK Co-Housing Network’s website, with about 20 in development.
Hundreds of similar communities exist in Denmark as well as over a hundred in the United States, however the vast majority are in rural areas.
The LILAC project will be launched this evening at the Carriageworks theatre in Millennium Square when people can sign up for one of the homes.
See www.cohousing.org.uk/lilac for more information or contact LILAC director Alan Thornton on 07736 673246.