On Monday this week Deborah and I were interviewed by Sinead Carroll for BBC South Today. She and her apprentice Joel were great (see slide show, below) and seemed genuinely interested in our story.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it on telly that night because there were more important stories, for example the news that announcements in Marylebone station are now in Arabic and Chinese (as well as English presumably) to get people on the right platform to go shopping in Bicester Village!
Shopping trumps everything else, doesn’t it!
I think the simplest way to characterise it is to say it’s more sustainable on all fronts. Here's how:
Economic sustainability: this is the aspect where we are most likely to be different from a traditional developer. We actively want mixed communities; we want as much affordable as is viable and we KEEP it affordable by not having any Right-To-Buy properties.
This is because we (Oxfordshire Community Land Trust) are a land trust and a charity. So for generations to come the homes will be there for people on average and low incomes. If we don’t build up this sector, where will the bus drivers, carers, nurses and junior doctors live? Not to mention young people and young families.
Social sustainability: 'neighbourliness' will be actively designed into the project, which, in turn, helps reduce loneliness and isolation. This happens in the configuration of the homes (ideally built around a quad or a garden with no cars), and in the fact that every resident will be a member of the management team no matter what their tenure. It won’t suit everyone but everyone who lives there will have their own front door so can have as much privacy as they want.
Communal gardens and occasional get-togethers (for example the Irving Project will have a community hall on site) will help develop the social bonds. This is such a good idea that progressive social care commissioners are already looking into co-housing and community-led housing as part of the longer term solution to our social care problems. Start now with the Irving Project!
Environmental sustainability: this will be built into the fabric of the new build and the retrofit of the old building. PVs on the roof, good insulation, as close to passivhaus as we can get, thus reducing energy bills (which also helps with the economic sustainability).
And above all, low car use and ownership. It will be a condition of the lease that all residents sign up to this and there are plenty of people in the city, especially in East Oxford who already want to reduce car ownership and use.
It’s an exciting proposition and we hope you’ll all support us by providing your feedback here about what we want to do.