UK co-op housing movement announces annual award winners

Honours include a lifetime achievement recognition for Margaret Cope of Paddock Housing Co-op in Walsall

The Confederation of Co-operative Housing, the umbrella body for housing co-operatives in the UK, has announced the winners of the CCH 2020 Annual Awards.

CCH says it set up the awards last year to “show the world how great housing co-operatives can be. We wanted to reward our members for all the amazing things that they do, day in, day out, things that are amazing and that we want people to hear about.”

It had hoped to honour the first ever winners at its annual conference last year but Covid-19 forced it to postpone the event. With the rescheduled date also falling victim to the pandemic, CCH has announced the winners online.

They are:

Active Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by CCH

Margaret Cope – Paddock Housing Co-op (Walsall, West Midlands)

CCH said: “Margaret Cope is the epitome of what living in a co-op and being a co-op member is all about and is a real advocate for co-op housing.

“In the late 1980s, Margaret was instrumental in the formation of Paddock Housing Co-op, when very little was known about the co-op world. Along with 10 other members, she volunteered her time by attending numerous meetings and training sessions and her dedication and commitment became the driving force, and over a five-year period the first 10 houses for Paddock Housing Co-op were built.

Margaret Cope

“Margaret’s presence has been influential, and over the last 40 years she has managed to get support from the local council, various MPs and the backing of the then housing corporation to further develop Paddock Housing and promote housing co-ops as the best form of social housing.

Related: Paddock Housing Co-op turns 25

“Margaret has promoted co-op housing through various boards and still sits on many of them, including Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services partnership board, of which she is the chair, and also Accord HA’s communities board.”

Ms Cope said: “It’s so wonderful to be recognised for the work I have done, and I’m really honoured to know that others feel I’ve made such a positive impact.”

Innovative Housing Co-operative of the Yearsponsored by Anthony Collins Solicitors

North Camden Housing Co-op (North London)

North Camden had a 15-unit , three-storey building on a corner plot in Kentish Town, built in 1983, which over time had presented several long-term problems related to its design and construction.

After a feasibility study presented three options, the co-op secured a substantial loan and embarked on a full environmental redesign and renovation of the building. This included external insulation, triple-glazed windows, good levels of airtightness and heat recovery ventilation. The opportunity was also taken to redesign the five bedsits in the property into one-bedroom flats, while keeping the integrity of the original design.

In addition, to help combat fuel poverty, the gas supply has been completely removed from the building and Photovoltaic roof panels were installed.

The work was carried out in 2018 and 2019, creating “a truly sustainable and innovative solution fit for the future”.

Also shortlisted were Bushbury Hill TMC and Ross Walk Housing Co-op.

Housing Co-operator of the Yearsponsored by Co-op Homes

Alam Navsa – Maynard Co-operative Housing Association (Leicester)

Mr Navsa has been chair of Maynard Co-operative Housing Association for the last 25 years, after joining the management committee in 1995.

He set about recruiting fellow tenants to create a newly reinvigorated committee and with their support, he turned the co-op around introducing a long-term improvement plan to bring the housing stock up to the Decent Homes Standard – including sourcing funding for a multi-million pound programme of insulation work.

Alam Navsa

Under his leadership, the co-op bought a derelict building in 2013 and refurbished it to create four new flats, increasing its stock to 118 homes in the Highfields area of Leicester. Having secured funding to buy another two houses, he and fellow committee members are working to find other suitable properties.

Other initiatives include the introduction of tablets for committee members, the opening of a local office, increased tenant involvement through twice yearly outings and fun days, promotion of the co-op to local youth organisations, and a committee members’ training programme and personal development reviews.

Also shortlisted:  Brian O’Hare, Huyton Community Co-operative for the Elderly; Joe Parham, Fairhazel Housing Co-op; Mary Smyth, Quadrant Brownswood Housing Co-op

Breakthrough Housing Co-operative of the Year – sponsored by North West Housing Services

Bunker Housing Co-op (Brighton)

Bunker was set up as a self-build housing co-op in 2015 with the goal of housing low-income families. It is working at different stages of development on five different BHCC sites in Brighton with the aim of providing 15 new homes.

Their first pilot project at Plumpton Road is receiving considerable local and cross-co-op support and is being used to build a tool kit and database of skills, contacts and information to help other co-ops planning to build in the city.

Bunker Housing Co-op

Bunker has completed the first stage of becoming a registered provider of social housing via the regulator (RSL) and has received a £10k grant from Community Led Homes to towards the cost of the process.

Members of the Bunker Housing Co-op