The dream of living in a comfortable, affordable home surrounded by friendly compatible neighbours in a safe non-urban community is not so far-fetched and idealistic that it doesn’t come true. For the planners, developers and soon-to-be-residents of the LILAC at Bramley, Leeds, it has taken about five years for all the factors to coalesce, but the rewards are more than worth the effort.
LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) is a concept that’s been around for a while, but this will be the first such community in the UK to put the whole thing into practice. It’s a co-housing project that is funded by its members, with some help from the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The Bramley community of 20 homes built a around a ‘common house’ with facilities for cooking, dining, laundry, recreation and public meetings is owned and managed by a housing society made up of people who helped plan and create it. It is designed to insure privacy for families whilst reducing their overall carbon footprint by at least 25%.
The homes and communal buildings are built with eco-friendly materials including pre-stressed straw bale insulation; they have triple glazing, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, solar panels and high-efficiency gas boilers. Lincoln-based Lindum Construction is doing the building, with Focus Consultants on board to certify that the project’s green qualifications meet Code Level 4.
This project got started with a few people getting together with common goals, friends who wanted that safe, affordable community in which to live and raise their families. Paul Chatterton, one of the initial founders, said that building houses is easy; anyone can do that, but building a community takes a lot of effort. He said, “We want these houses to be filled with happy, fulfilled people.” That’s the ideal, and that will hopefully soon be the reality.