Residents issue urgent cash plea for ‘unique’ Leeds housing project

Artist's impression of how Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) development would look. Picture: Justin Lunn
Artist's impression of how Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) development would look. Picture: Justin Lunn
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A group of residents behind a ground-breaking community-led housing project in Leeds have issued an urgent plea for help to reach their funding total by the end of March.

The deadline is looming for Chapeltown Cohousing - aka ChaCo - to raise the final £150k of their £600k total in loans from investors, and see seven years of planning become a reality.

They want to transform a derelict piece of land at the edge of Chapeltown into a community of 33 affordable homes, with shared facilities such as a common house, laundry, guest rooms and food-growing space.

It is believed to be the first project of its kind in what is one of the highest deprivation areas of the UK.

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The last push for cash is a plea to investors who can lend between £1,000 to £200,000 over three and seven years.

The community share scheme offers an annual interest rate of four per cent on loans of over £20,000 while smaller loans will attract two per cent.

Bill Phelps, one of the founders of the project, said the money will allow the group to buy the land and begin building the houses.

He said: “The clock is ticking. We have until the end of March to reach our target.

“It’s something people actually can do to make a difference locally to how they live. It’s quite an exciting idea. It seems to ring a lot of bells with people. They are getting behind it - otherwise we wouldn’t have raised the £450k we already have. Which is amazing.

“If this thing comes off, it’s going to attract a lot of attention. There’s nothing like it anywhere else.”

ChaCo has been developed by a group of residents from Chapeltown who decided on the types of housing, found the land - next to Barrack Road and Roundhay Road - and are currently finalising the design of every home.

It follows the success of a similar project by Leeds Community Homes which recently raised £360,000 through a community share offer - to invest in creating 16 permanently affordable homes on the south bank of the city centre.

Gill Coupland, of Leeds Community Homes, said: “ChaCo is exactly the kind of housing scheme that we want to see happening in Leeds - local people taking control of meeting their housing needs by building affordable, sustainable homes. And as our recent share offer demonstrated, there’s real appetite amongst Leeds people to support different ways to create the homes our city needs. We’re really hopeful that ChaCo will be able to raise the money they need.”

The loanstock offer closes on 31 March 2017. Anyone interested can visit http://www.chapeltowncohousing.org.uk/ or email peter@chapeltowncohousing.org.uk or phone 07474 873791.

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