York has an acute housing crisis with many people, especially younger families locked out of traditional home ownership. Step forward YorSpace who, with the support of the community, will create York’s first cooperatively owned, environmentally sustainable housing that stays affordable forever.

YorSpace is a community benefit society and community land trust born out of an urgent need to challenge the lack of affordable, environmentally sustainable housing in York, that is truly centred on the needs of the community. According to James Newton and Imelda Havers, Directors of YorSpace, the market is broken and YorSpace offers an opportunity to start fixing it through a radical approach to funding, community and environmental sustainability.

Revolutionising the way homes are funded

For the first time raising finance through a community share offer will be used to create homes that are not only kind to the environment and community focused, but crucially permanently affordable. This innovative method of raising capital for community homes is innovative and revolutionary and not just for York. Importantly it is a potential model for the future.

Imelda Havers said: “There are many exciting features to this project. But raising money in the community for local housing really is a bit radical. By investing in YorSpace, local people and businesses will have a stake in future housing provision and can shape the type of homes that the city really needs”.

 

A different business model

YorSpace is pioneering a revolutionary new approach to housing development.  Put simply, YorSpace raise capital to purchase the land via a community share offer.  The land will then be leased to residents via a specially created Mutual Home Ownership Society (MHOS). The diagram below illustrates this model.

Permanently affordable homes

YorSpace have created a new, permanently affordable ownership model. People who live in each development own a part of the whole development, with any equity only rising with inflation ensuring affordability for the next generation. Lower building costs and no developer profit means a significantly lower deposit of 10% is required on a house value of approximately 80% of the equivalent home which can never be sold on the open market for a quick profit. Instead all residents will be equal shareholders of the cooperative that owns the houses, paying a monthly contribution to give them added security in tenure.

A modern 21st Century community

Community wellbeing is very much at the heart of YorSpace. Residents will have strong connections with the local area and be in housing need. The 19 homes at Lowfield Green in Acomb are YorSpace’s flagship development, and will involve a mix of housing, from one bed apartments to four bed houses to create a diverse mix of life stages and family sizes. The residents range from young people to the retired, with one resident aged 80 setting up home with her daughter and granddaughter.  Every resident is committed to helping nurture an active community and will give time each week to make the development a thriving place to live where everyone has a say. Sharing is also key to community cohesion including communal areas covering dining and kitchen, laundry and car share. Sharing in this way will free up space in homes, bring the community together and improve the quality of life as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint.

Decarbonising the building of homes

The homes at Lowfield Green have been designed around One Planet Living principles of sustainable living, which will limit the environmental impact of the neighbourhood being built. Every building is being built from low carbon, bio-based construction materials which lower the carbon footprint of the fabric of the homes whilst making them both energy efficient and economical to run.  These materials have the added bonus that they create a healthy indoor living environment for residents, avoiding toxic, petrochemical based products.

“All the homes at Lowfield Green will be built from low carbon, non-toxic, bio-based construction materials.  Our single storey common house is going to be a community self-build incorporating locally sourced straw bales.  I’m very excited about the opportunities that these types of materials offer and I’m convinced that their performance will be better than the materials typically used in building. I also love the thought that local training opportunities and employment can be created by using them successfully in the build.” comments James Newton, Director of YorSpace.

Why invest in the community share offer?

YorSpace have just launched their public share offer – allowing interested parties to invest in the project. By making an investment you’ll be helping shape housing development in the city to the needs of the community as well as helping to tackle the housing crisis and build momentum in an innovative community housing model in York.

Individuals can make a minimum investment of £250 to a maximum investment of £47,500 receiving a maximum return of 2.5% payable into each individual investors personal share account which can be withdrawn from 2022. Ethical crowdfunding platform Ethex will be handling all transactions. YorSpace are looking to raise a minimum of £375,000 from the share offer. For more information on the share offer and to make an investment  click here.

The future

Following the successful delivery of Lowfield Green, YorSpace will continue to grow and help facilitate more community led housing in York. James Newton said: “We believe our community funded, permanently affordable homes using low carbon building materials is a model for the future, and we’re keen to speak to people across the city who would like to find out more: whether that’s potential investors or people interested in joining the YorSpace residents register.”

Visual showing birdseye view of the proposed development:

Image of planned development

Visual showing community hub courtyard:

Visual showing view down the new car free street: