HOWCH held a meeting in November 2018 with a shout out for talent!
The name comes from similar schemes for Older Women’s Community Housing (OWCH). This group added the “H” for Hastings. It was started in October 2017.
Brekke Larsen explained the vision behind HOWCH was from Denmark where her godfather lived in a co-operative housing scheme. This enabled him to maintain his independence whilst ensuring that he was never lonely. Many years later, Brekke’s niece separated from her husband and went to live with her children in a shared development. In this scheme, everyone had their own front doors but with some shared amenities. There is now a movement towards this type of development in the UK.
Action for Rural Sussex is one such
organisation that is involved in providing advice and support for such schemes.
There are about 200 Community Land Trusts
(CLTs) around the country e.g. Bristol, York, Brent (the most famous). This type of scheme also features in Hastings
Borough Council’s (HBC) manifesto. In
some ways, CLTs fill the gap left by the reduction in council housing.
This is the background to the idea behind HOWCH. It is not for profit. No-one will make money out of this – it is only for the community. There are now 5 people in the Steering Group. Stage 3 funding has been applied for. This will enable HOWCH to set up a legal entity, create a website etc. The next stage is to take this to the community to see what the reaction might be. The Steering Group want to be sure that what they are doing is what the community are interested in.
You are invited to join them for the launch event on 13 December 2018, 5:30–7:30pm at East Sussex College, Station Plaza.
This is the first community energy investment offer in Hastings. ESC, in partnership with Brighton Energy Coop, are raising £180,000 through community shares to fund 250 kilowatts of solar panels (roughly 1066 panels as it happens) on East Sussex College. The college will save roughly £4250 per year on its energy bills.
Living in a solar town was something I dreamed of when co-founding Energise Sussex Coast in 2012. And here, hopefully, is the beginning of it.
Richard Watson, ESC director
The offer is open to anyone but they are especially keen to invite as many local residents, local businesses and community organisations as possible to invest in the future of the college and Hastings.
With the transformation of the energy market underway ESC hope that excess power generated during weekends and holiday periods can be sold to local residents in the Ore Valley at affordable prices.
By investing in 1066 community energy you are supporting the transition to low carbon energy and a fairer energy future and will receive a reasonable return on your investment.
On May 11th Julian Howell gave a short talk about cohousing projects and a very clear ‘how to’ to help groups to get started. Julian Howell is a founder member of Sussex Cohousing a Brighton-based community in the making.
After the talk there was a lively discussion about what people were interested in doing locally. There was an interest in finding ways to live together in a supportive and collaborative way or living with a deeper connection to nature by sharing land. We hope the conversation continues and cohousing projects or land sharing projects can be realised in and around Hastings, a town where good quality affordable housing is hard to find.
New Economics Foundation have recently published this guide to help groups looking to build community-led, affordable housing development in their area overcome one of their greatest obstacles: acquiring land.
Friends of Hastings Pier have been pushed into a corner by an Administration process that is unsuitable for a community-owned asset. They have put forward alternative plans which are exciting and realistic but been told that they won’t take the bid seriously unless we have £1M available. That’s why they’re pushing this crowdfunder. Raising half a million pounds now from individuals and organisations will keep us ‘in the game’ and encourage other funders to invest alongside you to make our Pier a success.
Hastings Pier has been a beacon of community-led regeneration, a pioneer in the world of community shares, and an inspiration to community groups across the country. The hazard faced is not just for Hastings; if the People’s Pier fails perceptions of community ownership will be badly damaged, even though community ownership was never the problem and is definitely part of the solution.
Please help in any way you can – most obviously and most immediately by clicking the link and then spreading the word.
A group of residents are asking the council if they can turn the currently vacant Old Town Hall on the High Street into an arts based community hub. The likelihood is that the local council will give it to the group at a peppercorn rent until they are up and running (if they can prove its needed).
If you are interested in using the space for exhibitions, selling crafts etc, renting workspaces or running workshops, get in touch via the website.
The hub will be not for profit and any rents/profit share will be at a rate affordable to all. They plan to run a couple of craft retro fairs to get some initial funds at the beginning of July this year.
At a later stage they want to pay a manager to run the building. The hope is it will be open 7 days a week all day and evening.
You can attend weekly meetings about the hub at 6.30pm on Mondays at Old History House, 21 Courthouse Street.
12 people attended and the conversation was really lively.
Here are some abridged notes from the meeting:
One member gave some background information about Neighbourhood Plans. She is Chair of the Tulse Hill Neighbourhood Plan in South London.
Some funding was made available via Locality for some initial consultation within the area (they set up a stall in Brockwell Park). They asked one question: “If you could change anything in your neighbourhood what would it be?”.
Map out an area for your plan – Tulse Hill asked all those who came ot the Brockwell Park stand and then put a pin in a map for each person to create their boundary.
Once the group has 21 people committed to the plan it’s possible to apply to be a Neighbourhood Planning Forum. A Neighbourhood Plan must relate to the established local plan but the forum writes it’s own. The plan produced is then statutory.
One attendee shared his ideas about appropriate language. He does not like the word ‘housing’ as it is not a noun. He prefers to talk about ‘making places’. He said that there are three essentials for people: Food, Community and Place.
All present in the meeting shared what things they’d like to change in the town:
Better design of the local environs
Use of meanwhile spaces
Use of empty/derelict spaces
Better quality affordable, rented accommodation
Joined up thinking (eg how waste water is managed within developments)
A greater sense of community
Improved awareness of planning activity
More spaces for people to interact – many live in isolation
What should we call this group? Making places, environment, neighbourhood, community… Ideas?
On Saturday 18th April 2015 we had our visions event at the White Rock Hotel, a fantastic afternoon when more than eighty people came together to contribute ideas for a more sustainable town. Here is a taster of some of the ideas discussed, including a few quirky ones:
Edible bus stops / guerilla gardening
Garden matching schemes
Car free days on the seafront
Travel passes for integrated transport system (including new funiculars to the West/East Hills)
100% renewable energy owned by Hastings Community
Bio-digesters to generate energy from local garden waste
Rent reform / Land tax control
CPO / planning reform
Eco-housing including Eco Open Houses
Acknowledge the value in waste and use it.
Also, the presentations about Transition Town Lewes, Community Fruit and Veg Project, Trinity Wholefoods Coop, Energise Sussex Coast and a short film of a TED talk emphasised the power of community.
As such, it feels important to consider the following in the future work of Transition Town Hastings:
work with existing community groups
bring people together to create a friendlier and safer environment
bridging age gaps through common activities
developing Transition Streets
encouraging broader engagement
We were excited to discover lots of people at the event had valuable skills to offer and we hope to see these in action soon.
On Monday 25th May at 7pm there will be a core group Transition Town Hastings meeting in the Notley Room at the White Rock Hotel.