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Leeds Co-housing project sneak preview Local residents of a Leeds neighbourhood will soon be able to have a sneak peek round their future neighbours’ homes, at a preview of the country’s first affordable, ecological co-housing scheme. The strawbale and timber homes are being built in Bramley, in urban Leeds and on February 8 interested local residents will be able to have a tour of the site. The tour needs to be booked in advance, web address at the bottom of this item.

The development of 12 flats and 8 houses is the culmination of more than five year’s hard work for a small, pioneering group of people, and the current timescale estimates that all the units will be ready for occupation in spring 2013.

An innovative new legal structure called a ‘Mutual Home Ownership Society’ ensures the project’s affordability, while the site design is based around the Danish concept of ‘cohousing’.

Cohousing schemes cluster fully-fitted individual homes around a central, shared ‘Common House’ which residents are free to use to prepare and enjoy meals together, and share tools, toys and other resources.

The contractor, Lindum Construction, has arranged for the walls to be assembled off site at a “Flying Factory” with assistance of LILAC members. Lindum is a construction company owned by its employees, and has been voted the top construction company in the Sunday Times Top 100 “Companies to work for “list 2012.

Using an approach pioneered by the firm Modcell, the walls are made from strawbales, timber frames and lime render to provide a super-insulated, energy-efficient and renewable alternative to traditional building materials. The Modcell system has been used for schools and public buildings in the UK but this is the first residential project of its type.

Simon Gregory, Managing Director of Lindum Construction, said: “We are delighted to be constructing this very exciting housing project - the first time in the UK that a complete housing development has been constructed using the Modcell prefabricated panels with strawbales to provide insulation. We are committed to improving the environment so a pioneering housing scheme like this, designed to encourage living as ‘lightly’ on earth as possible whilst addressing the need for affordable housing, is a great project to be part of and builds on our reputation for constructing sustainable affordable housing.”

LLAC aims to have a low impact on the environment, build to the highest ecological standards and protect global resources in the face of climate change and energy scarcities; respond to the housing crisis by providing permanently affordable housing; build a beautiful, safe neighbourhood which maximises social interaction between its residents and gives them direct power over how their neighbourhood is run; and, make a positive contribution to its surrounding community.

To register for a place on the tour, visit http://lilacgrove.eventbrite.co.uk/?ebtv=C
Credits:: Photo of 'the gaffer' by Joe