What are our reasons for considering community-led housing?
Housing was identified as an important priority for local people in the Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Planning Forum (“the Forum”) neighbourhood plan consultation during 2016.
In 2017 the Forum undertook further consultation with local people about housing issues and the following priorities were identified:
- We need to protect well-designed and popular older housing stock which is deteriorating
and is under threat of demolition;
- We need to ensure absentee landlords improve the management of their properties;
- We need the right balance between new homes being built, enhancing the heritage of the
area and providing quality open spaces;
- We need to ensure our area develops the right mix of housing types to meet local needs
(For example – providing more homes for wheelchair-users and larger homes for
- We need to improve the quality of the new housing being built, and
- We need to attract a diverse range of people to live in the area and support the local
A housing needs assessment was planned, with funding agreed, but it was put on hold by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) because Wirral Council did not (and still does not, as of 24 November 2018) have an up-to-date Local Plan with agreed housing targets. This was a major contributory factor to the decision to dissolve the Forum in 2018.
We have established the Birkenhead & Tranmere Community Benefit Society (BATCBS) as a Community Land Trust to take forward projects that will address some of the identified local priorities.
We would like to concentrate upon specific buildings that would address a number of the priorities identified by local residents. Three potential projects have been identified.
70 Argyle Street
This project offers an opportunity to regenerate a prominent building in the Hamilton Square Conservation Area and to provide affordable community-led housing. It was designed by the locally renowned architect, Walter Scott, and is an architectural link between this conservation area and the nearby Clifton Park Conservation Area, where some of Scott’s finest work is still evident.
There are two commercial leases on the ground floor, which would provide an additional income.
With Wirral Council promoting the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre, there is also an opportunity to investigate how the area around this building could be regenerated and enhance this gateway into the conservation area, as the indicative visualisations below show.
Tranmere Methodist Church
In the medium term future, the existing church will become redundant and there is support in principle for conversion to affordable housing and the rentention of the newer part of the church as a community resource centre.
Victoria Lodge Hotel
This derelict building and land has blighted Victoria Road in Tranmere for many years and there is substantial community support for the redevelopment of the site.
This site could support three affordable 2-storey houses, with access from Spruce Close, and there is potential for community office space, with residential flats above, to be provided in a new building along the Victoria Road frontage. There is also an opportunity to bring the car park opposite into community ownership.
The indicative layout below has been produced to help residents understand how the site could be developed in the short to medium term future.
Early Stages Support for Community-Led Housing
In July 2017 the Forum was awarded £2,250 from this fund. This money was used to pay for a number of consultation events with the people of Birkenhead & Tranmere Ward on the subject of housing.
The results of this consultation were fed into the wider neighbourhood development plan consultation exercise and a commitment was made by the Forum’s management committee to investigate the potential for community-led housing projects to be delivered by a separate community-led organisation. This is how and why the Birkenhead & Tranmere Community Benefit Society (BATCBS) came into being.
With the dissolution of the Forum, a new focus was needed and the BATCBS directors have been working with Locality and its advisors to devise a way forward.
Community-Led Housing Fund – Stage 2
The directors aim to be in a position to apply for funding from this central Government pot but it requires a commitment from local residents and businesses – yes, that means you! A minimum BATCBS membership of ten people is required to allow the directors to submit a funding application.