Landmark victory for community housing scheme in Leeds

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Groundbreaking plans by residents to transform derelict land in one of Leeds’ most deprived areas have been given the green light.

Chapeltown Co-housing Ltd (ChaCo) unveiled its vision in May to create a “community” of 29 homes and four self-build plots, on land off Barrack Road and Roundhay Round in Chapeltown.

The plans were bolstered by Unity Housing Association Ltd, who jointly applied to build a further 30 flats for people aged over 55 at the site.

The decision by the council's North and East Plans Panel today (Thursday) is a landmark for the community-led housing project, which is believed to be the first of its kind in one of the highest deprivation areas of the country.

It follows a successful £650,000 fundraising campaign by ChaCo to attract investment pledges for the community share scheme.

Jim Reed, ChaCo project manager, said: “We are very pleased that the decision was unanimous.

“Now we are just waiting to crack on and build something that Leeds can be proud of.

“The community has come together for this: they have had a part in design and got the funding together. It’s all about the community.”

Mr Reed said he now hoped the scheme’s landmark planning approval would encourage others to produce similar projects.

It follows the success of the Bramley-based Lilac site, which in 2013 became the UK’s first mutual co-operative housing development after securing planning approval.

Mr Reed added: “We are really hopeful that we can now be the pathfinder for more of the same kind of scheme in Leeds.”

ChaCo was developed by a group of residents from Chapeltown, who decided on the types of housing, found the land, and finalised the design of every home.

Wayne Noteman, regeneration director at Unity Housing Association, which partnered with ChaCo for the application, said: “The council has really supported us and I think that needs to be acknowledged.

“It’s far too easy for an organisation that is a novelty to be overlooked.

“We are really pleased with the decision - we have worked long and hard to get a scheme that everyone is comfortable with.”

A report prepared ahead of the planning meeting said the co-housing scheme is based on a series of principles of community living, which residents sign up to to become a part of.

The report said: “As well as providing individual homes and private spaces for residents, the proposals also include shared gardens and growing spaces, a large ‘common-house‘ where residents can eat and socialise together, and other shared facilities such as a communal laundry and communal waste and recycling facilities, that are aimed at reducing living costs and the environmental impact of the development.”

Cori Braham.

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