A group of local people in housing and worker co-operatives were given the go-ahead to build affordable and eco-friendly residential and retail premises in Stirchley, Birmingham.
Approved by Birmingham City Council on 21 January, the £6.6m development will include 39 flats and three retail units in Stirchley. It will also feature a new community space including a pedestrian walkway, seating, a community garden, cycle parking and a closed panel timber frame building.
The latter will have an environmental specification that exceeds building regulations, and will provide a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and heating bills versus standard brick builds.
Stirchley Co-operative Development (SCD) was set up in 2016 by two local housing co-operatives and three local co-operative businesses, including a bakery and cookery school, an art space and café, and a bicycle repair shop. The group is supported by the local co-op housing provider Accord and has received funding from Homes England and Power to Change. SCD aims to complete construction in late 2022.
“Community support for the project has been incredible,” said Matthew Cox, SCD board member and director of Birmingham Bike Foundry, one of the co-operative businesses that form the SCD group.
“We’re excited about moving to purpose-built premises on our high street. Not only that but our co-operative development will set a new standard for the city in terms of sustainable build processes and the provision of affordable housing, both vital components of any future urban development and a key part of Birmingham City Council’s objectives for the city.”
Bea Hughes, board member and volunteer, said the planning decision was “a massive relief” after a “long and, at times, frustrating process”.
“I really envision a kind of community hub for Stirchley in this project. It gives us hope during this pandemic,” she added.
Pete Ashton, SCD board member, said: “In a time of inflating land prices and rents, with work becoming increasingly precarious and homes more difficult to afford, SCD will create a long-term asset for the high street and sustainable homes for families and individuals ambitious about our common future.”
Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, added: “This is a community led development. It is the kind of proposal that allows Birmingham to innovate and be a leader. It’s about local people coming together to provide quality, affordable housing, to those in need, and create retail space to allow three businesses to expand and grow. This is a refreshing change from the normal profit led developments by companies whose shareholders have no interest in Stirchley.”
With the council approving the plans, SCD will now moving forward with its purchase of the land from Seven Capital.