We attended a seminar put on by the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT), about an upgrade to a tool that allows HAs to calculate the social value their organisation brings to the table. This is useful when applying for grants.
We attended a BuildIt expo down in Bicester, where we talked with Barbara Jones who wrote the bible about building in straw bales. She now works with EcoCocon, who supply structural straw-filled panels. We talked to a number of other eco-friendly building suppliers there, and had a good chat with the folks from Ecology Building Society. They were impressed with our ambitions for the project.
We had a chat with Eddy, from West Midlands Urban Community Homes (wMUCH), and Cath from the Birmingham Social Housing Partnership (BSHP). The topic was about finding Housing Associations (HAs) who might be interested in forming a partnership with us, to fund and build the social housing part of the community, and to be a Registered Provider on our behalf. BSHP had a pre-covid workshop with a number of HAs about this, and has passed on to wMUCH a list of those who were interested.
We attended the Fight for Home Festival, which was mostly talking about the struggle for decent rented housing, whether rented from the Council or from private landlords. Some inspiring people there. Salma Yaqoob who now works for the West Midlands Combined Authority was there.
We had a personal tour of the Zero Carbon House (ZCH) in Balsall Heath, led by John Christophers, who was the architect, and is now resident in the ZCH. (John worked with the group a year or two ago to help us refine our architectural thoughts, and produced a feasibility study which was passed to PMP Consultants to get feasibility costings.) The tour was a profound experience, and John explained the ins and outs of various design and materials decisions.
This was followed by a lovely picnic in Cannon Hill Park.
In late July we had a meeting with two representatives from the Birmingham Diocese of the Church of England (CoE). The CoE recognises the gravity of the housing crisis, and is determined to play its part in helping to resolve this problem. A wonderful report, Coming Home, was created by an independent commission, and issued in the name of the Archbishop of Cantebury. One aspect of the report is a mission for the church to facilitate the building of affordable, sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying housing on any spare land the Church owns. In particular, national representatives of the Church are working with the Community Land Trust Network to see how they might support Community Led Homes. Another direction of travel is for the Church to form its own Housing Association(s). Altogether, the meeting was of great interest to both sides, but sadly Birmingham Diocese doesn’t have land that meets our criteria. (It was rural, rather than urban / suburban – but we want to be close to shops, and other facilities, and to public transport.)
Besides this, in June and July we had our usual scattering of business meetings.