Residents are celebrating after raising the final funds to bring their vision for a ground-breaking community-led housing project to life in Leeds.
Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) had fundraised £450,000 in loans from investors in a bid to transform a derelict piece of land on the edge of Chapeltown into a community of 33 affordable homes with shared facilities.
Just £150,000 short of their £600,000 target, the group last week pleaded with investors to get involved in the community share scheme in a final push to gather the remaining funds after seven years of planning.
They have now reached their total and can go ahead with the project, which is believed to be the first of its kind in one of the highest deprivation areas of the UK.
Bill Phelps, one of the founders of the project, said: “We are over the moon, we really are. It’s amazing.
“We have gone out and set ourselves an ambitious target of raising £600k from everywhere and anyone who believes in what we are trying to do and there has been this tremendous response. It’s really encouraging.”
The community share scheme offered investors an annual interest rate of four per cent on loans of more than £20,000, while smaller loans attracted two per cent.
The cash will now allow the group to purchase the land and begin building the houses, once formal planning applications have been lodged with Leeds City Council.
ChaCo was 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.
Mr Phelps, who worked as a graphic designer, said he hoped the first residents would be able to move in by Christmas, 2018.
The 68-year-old said: “This whole community-led housing movement is starting to take off now and Leeds is at the centre of that.”
Mr Phelps said the UK is unusual when compared to the rest of Europe for its low number of community-led housing projects.
He added: “In Austria, a large percentage of new-build homes are built by people who are going to be living in them, so we have got a lot of catching up to do in the UK.”