We are pleased to report that potential projects are moving forward, though what will result remains in the balance.
This is a site on which we could build 5 x 2-bedroomed passivhaus-style houses (the size that the Council requires in this area of Hereford) and which the vendor is willing to sell to us. There are issues of access which we are currently investigating with the Council prior to carrying out community consultation with a view, hopefully, to moving to make a full planning application.
You may be aware that the government has announced a £4million fund for CLTs to use in pre-planning application work. We are trying to find out when information will be available as to how we can apply for funds from this pot and from when the money will be available.
Artists’ and Makers’ Quarter with affordable housing in central Hereford
As a result of the report we produced on buildings and spaces (notably car parks) in the historic core of Hereford that might lend themselves to creating affordable housing, the idea emerged of an Artists’ and Makers’ Quarter in the Aubrey / Berrington Street area of central Hereford combined with affordable housing. We were encouraged to make an application for finance from the Towns Fund, as part of Hereford’s bid for £25million from this pot, but were unsuccessful. In part I think this was we came late to this particular table, but the bid was (as far as I can gather) at or near the top of the list of some 30 projects that didn’t make the cut, and we have received some indications that the project will continue to be given support to try and help it come to fruition.
During December we carried out an online survey amongst artists and makers to ascertain their interest in and potential participation in such a Quarter, and their need for housing. The survey was publicised through organisations like Hereford MAKE, the Rural Media Company, The Arts College, The Ford Collective and many individuals. 121 people completed the survey, 99 wanting to be kept in touch with progress and 50 offering to help create it. There was also a desire for affordable accommodation as part of the Quarter, this largely coming from younger folk currently either living at home or in private rented accommodation.
We are therefore creating a ‘steering group’ with the aim of taking the project forward, whilst a ‘social media / website / communication’ group is forming to build support for such a quarter and possible base for a crowdfunding / community share offer, should that be a way of helping take the project forward. We will be opening discussions with the owners of a site in Aubrey / Berrington Street through someone who knows both the estate agents involved and the property owner to ascertain possible purchase price / options etc. Meanwhile we will be working on a business plan, with input from The Rural Media Company which is offering support.
Possible Council-owned sites
We are now receiving excellent support from Herefordshire Council in our search for a site, with the desire to ensure we have an identified site by the end of this calendar year. Initially this has meant ruling out, for a variety of reasons, some of the ‘awkward’ sites which we were investigating last year (itself a useful exercise), but with the council considering us having a small part of one of the possible sites they have identified for their own house building programme.
We are also involved in very early stage discussions surrounding two sites on the western edge of the city.