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Scheme to build houses in back gardens receives funding

A new project in Bristol has proposed to take advantage of ‘micro-plots’ of spare land scattered across back gardens and between buildings to help address the housing crisis. 

We Can Make, has been awarded just over £200,000 from the Nationwide Foundation and Power to Change, and the money will be used to work with a pilot neighbourhood in Bristol – Knowle West – to co-design and create practical tools that make it easier, faster and cheaper to develop on micro-plots.

We Can Make believe that in Knowle West, a low-density 1930s estate in South Bristol, there are over 2,000 potential micro-sites where a 1-2 bedroom home could fit.

Although not all of these sites will be suitable, We Can Make estimates that 10-15% could be developed. This would create a significant supply of land for affordable housing where and when it’s needed.

Knowle West Media Centre’s Melissa Mean said: ‘Community-led housing developments often have high per-project overhead costs as each new amateur has to learn and master the process from scratch.

‘Thanks to the support of the Nationwide Foundation and Power to Change, we can now develop the practical tools that will help make it easier, cheaper and quicker for ordinary people to use micro-plots to get the affordable homes they desperately need. We are testing it out in Knowle West over the next 18 months, and the aim is to replicate in other neighbourhoods across the UK.’

The project has a specific focus on people who are currently being ignored and failed by the conventional housing system which include:

  • Families with an urgent need for more space due to children growing up and needing independence but unable to get on the property ladder themselves.
  • Individuals or couples whose homes are too big for them due to children moving out, but they want to stay in their neighbourhood close to friends and family.
  • Families where one or more member has changing mobility needs that require different living arrangements.
  • Those in financial need and who are willing to swap space for extra income, such as people working out how to support themselves through retirement.

Cllr Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing, Bristol City Council added: ‘Bristol has an urgent and desperate need for more housing. The housing market continues to fail to deliver what people and communities need. We need new imaginative solutions which build homes and communities with and for the people.

‘We Can Make offers a groundbreaking alternative which can be scaled up to provide high-quality housing at the numbers we need and where communities want it. Bristol City Council is excited to be a partner to this project which could set a new model for estates across the UK.

‘It is brilliant that the Nationwide Foundation and Power to Change are supporting We Can Make and Bristol as pioneers of new community-led approaches to housing.’

Read more about We Can Make here

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