Housing – What can we do?

With Pippa Goldfinger (FTC Councillor) Melissa Mean (Knowle West Media Centre) & Mark Merer (Welham Studios)

Frome Town Council

  • Taken an ambitious approach to planning and development
  • Holds monthly planning meetings with great attendance
  • Opens dialogue with developers
    • Dealing with greenspace, good architecture and affordable housing
  • Part funded Frome Fair Housing
  • Opened up conversations with developers and housing groups

Melissa Mean

Melissa is from the digital arts charity Knowle West Media Centre and spoke on their project We Can Make – http://kwmc.org.uk/projects/wecanmake/

  • To deliver affordable housing at the point of need
  • Working with residents to understand needs

Issues to face

  • Current strategies are failing the majority of residents
  • Proposals are likely to be rejected
  • Planning department is understaffed
  • Intimidating process for application

How to fix?

  • Start with the people, needs and assets
  • Collecting information/needs from residents door to door and illustrating the findings in the form of a artistic piece
  • Understanding the microscale of the housing crisis is important
  • Option to utilise space inside people homes/unused rooms

How to deal with the micro site?

  • Possible on the citizen level
  • Develop common tools to manage on a community level
  • Set up a community design menu
    • Supplier framework
      • Local labour, materials
    • Dispersed Community Land Trust
      • With smaller plots banding together

Housing Factory

  • Supply system to work on a local level
  • Built a prototype house that meets housing criteria
    • All locally supplied & built over 10 weeks
    • Passive house
    • Didn’t ask for planning permission for the prototype
    • It’s on wheels!
      • House on a chasse
      • Caravan act

Mark Merer

  • Focus on the edges of towns and villages, how they look
  • Approached by Bruton Town Council to bring in culture and lifestyles into planning
  • To provide an alternative to larger developments
  • New area of focus
    • More social housing, more space
  • Land owner is happy to hand over more land
    • Self-build, naked housing
    • Initially against the idea but was persuaded when it was offered as a legacy to the town

Mark Brierly – NVB

  • Garden city movement
  • Younger generation are unable to buy houses
    • National problem, a shortage of houses
    • Frome is around 1000 short of affordable houses
    • Due to costs, brown sites in Frome aren’t meeting affordable housing demands
  • Created a strategic alternative, taking over the responsibility from Mendip District Council to put in place a plan to build 700 affordable homes over a fixed period

Needs of the town

  • Getting community groups together to support self-build projects
  • More opportunities for youth to get onto the housing ladder
    • Issues concerning increasing housing prices vs. low paying jobs
  • Self-build register – Parish Councils to nurture these groups

Final question: What is all Parish Councils joined together to speak with government about the issues related to housing?

Further information

Additional notes on this topic from the Breaking the Mould booklet can be found here.

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