Bron Afon leads research on co-operative housing

Bron Afon’s Philip Blight writes about a chance for a PhD student to work on a unique project that will help housing problems in Wales. Here is the link to find out how to apply. If you want a chat about the placement call Phil on 01633 620 111.

We are working in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University, to offer a brilliant opportunity for a PhD student to look at how different approaches to providing affordable and sustainable housing could work in Wales. In the Welsh Government White Paper Homes for WalesHuw Lewis, the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, says: “The need for safe, warm, comfortable shelter is one of the most fundamental human instincts (p2).”

One of the actions is to build 500 co-operative homes and the report says: “Co-operative housing will become a much more significant part of the housing system (p5)…We recognise that raising awareness and understanding of co-operative models so they become familiar and acceptable to people will need to be addressed as part of our pioneer projects (p26).”

There is not much research on co-operative housing models in Wales and how they affect residents who choose to live in them. Click on this link to read about a group of London residents who came together to jointly buy a building where they would alll live. Housing  co-operatives also include encouraging people to jointly rent a home.

This unique Wales-based PhD research project will look at the needs of communities in Wales, but will also look at international co-operative housing projects in North America and Europe.

The Welsh Government said there is a need to provide more housing choices for people, offering suitable homes that enable people to remain independent for as long as possible.  Community housing mutuals like Bron Afon were set up to get tenants and communities involved in decisions that affect them. 

How can housing organisations plan for new types of housing without understanding what the people who will live in them actually think about the difference they will make to their community? This is what we want to find out.

The student who works on this project will have a good headstart as Bron Afon is heavily involved in communities across Torfaen. 

As the White Paper says: “A decent home that people can afford is essential to their ability to live healthy, productive lives in safe, strong, inclusive and fair communities (p4).”

This research will be invaluable in answering questions such as:

▫         What makes a successful project and what are the pitfalls?

▫         How can co-operative housing be financed?

▫         What type of co-operative housing might be attractive for people in Wales?

▫         What can we learn from current practice in terms of sustainability and in responding to housing need?

▫         Does design influence social interaction in co-operative housing and how crucial is this?

▫         Is the time right for a co-operative housing model in Wales?

 And how can we make it happen!

Applications must be in by 23 July. We expect the student will start by the end of the summer and work with us for three years.  We will keep you updated on progress through this blog.

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