Development Co-op launches pioneer share offer to grow UK sector

‘We anticipate working in partnership with neighbourhoods and communities. This initiative should be of enormous interest to local authority planners looking to rebuild’

Development Co-operative (DC) has launched a pioneer share offer to help the sector drive local growth and post-Covid recovery.

The multi-stakeholder co-op, which will use the funds to support the development of new and existing co-ops, is led by a board of directors who all work in the field “and bring passion, commitment, and a wealth of knowledge to the work”. 

Treasurer Alex Lawrie said: “We believe that the recent emergence of co-operative hubs in Somerset, Birmingham and Hackney highlights an exciting opportunity for co-op development.

“The practice of co-op development may not be widely understood, but over more than 40 years we have built up a wealth of experience that our co-op now seeks to mobilise. It is hoped that through this offer practitioners will not only help strengthen specific local economies, but also shine a light on co-op development.” 

DC is seeking to raise £150,000 of working capital to launch projects in at least three UK towns or cities. The investment will grow community owned mixed developments of housing and working hubs. Similar to business incubators, but with community participation and modern, mutual forms of ownership and management, these deliver inclusive amenities and services and promote job creation and social capital.

Secretary Martin Strube added: “Each development will incorporate a balanced mix of flexible workspace and affordable housing. This will include at least one existing and robust co-operative enterprise as an anchor tenant and in-house co-operative development advisors. 

“We anticipate working very much in partnership with neighbourhoods and communities. This initiative should be of enormous interest to local authority planners looking to rebuild.

“Through diversifying and localising ownership of enterprise, they can stabilise local economies. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any potential sites in mind.”

DC says its model is a step-by-step process, starting with community engagement and the identification of suitable development sites, then business planning based around replication of successful co-op models and adaptation to local needs and conditions.

After this, it plans to use a mix of grant funding, loans and community shares, allowing the planned hub to be built and launched, with the local community acting as client and Development Co-op as consultant. Existing hubs, some of which have operated successfully for decades, have helped to grow numerous successful co-operatives and community enterprises.