Co-operative Housing as a vision for the future?
Wales Co-operative Centre’s Co-operative Housing Project Manager, Dave Palmer, recently attended the Welsh Tenants Federation Conference ‘A Vision for your Future’ in Llandrindod Wells.
“The Welsh Tenants Federation held their 25th Anniversary Annual Conference “A Vision for Your Future” this September and the Wales Co-operative Centre ran a workshop on Co-operative Housing – ‘Co-operation Street’ on the Friday afternoon and exhibited both days.
The event is took place at the Hotel Metropole in Llandrindod Wells and 180 delegates, 10 more than last year, were in attendance from all parts and sectors of Wales with each delegate receiving a copy of the Wales Co-operative Centre’s leaflet on Co-operative Housing.
Co-operative Housing and self-help solutions featured highly in our vision for our future and the Centre outlined the History of Co-operative Housing starting with Robert Owen of Newtown, Powys (1771-1858) a Welsh social reformer and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the co-operative movement.
Then, continuing with the history of housing associations, the Tenants Co-operators Limited (1888) is considered to be one of the parent societies, which was founded by Benjamin Jones, manager of the London branch of the Co-operative Wholesale Society. He went on to develop Brentham Garden Suburb, and the Tenant Co-partnership movement was started. This was the forerunner to Letchworth ‘Garden City’ with Ebenezer Howard.
My presentation went on to compare the housing co-operative sectors across Europe and the US. On average 10% of Europeans, about 27 million people, live in housing co-operatives. In the UK, this figure is 0.6% – less than1%!
In comparison, in the USA housing co-operatives provide homes for approximately 1.5 million American families (despite accounting for less than 1% of the population).
The presentation described more than 10 Pioneer Schemes currently in development in Wale. Two of these schemes, ‘Loftus Gardens’ by Seren Group in Cardiff and Ely Bridge by Cadwyn in Cardiff, will be designed along Garden City/Suburb principles, like Rhiwbina in Cardiff.
I hope that access to co-operative housing will increase drastically in Wales over the next few years. It would be great to see it as a recognised ‘in- between’ option for people who don’t want to rent but would like a level of ownership and a strong sense of community.
More information about the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Housing project can be found at http://www.walescooperative.org/cooperative-housing