THE EDSPACE – A COST-EFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO THE HOUSING CRISIS IN FROME
On Monday 20th November, a packed house of over 80 people celebrated the end of Fair Housing for Frome’s one-year campaign to raise awareness of and find solutions to the housing crisis in the town.
The event was called ‘What If?’ and looked at the potential of Tiny Homes as a way of addressing the shortage of affordable homes in Frome, particularly for young people. The eye-catching centerpiece of the evening was an actual tiny home, an ‘EdSpace,’ which had been specially built over three weeks and assembled inside Rook Lane Chapel in just 4 hours by Stuart Dalton and team of local company Chisel & Grain.
The EdSpace has been developed by Edventure, Frome’s school for social enterprise. Edventure Director Johannes Mueller explained how this simple, elegant and adaptable living space is a perfect option for anyone who’d like to take in a lodger or have extra space for visiting family and friends. A 4.8m x 2.4m
EdSpace costs around £10,000 when fully installed and equipped in your garden or courtyard, so at a rent of £250 pcm would pay for itself within 3 years. The architect Graham Burgess added that the EdSpace flatpack is designed to fit through the door of a Frome house and just small enough to avoid planning regulations. Stuart pointed out that as demand increases, it will create jobs and apprenticeships for local people.
During the break, the crowd had the opportunity to explore the EdSpace for themselves, as well as to watch an inspiring presentation about other tiny homes around the world put together by Miranda Sipe. This was followed by a discussion about how we can all help the tiny home movement take root in Frome. Suggestions included: Can a site be identified suitable for a cluster of EdSpaces, such as a ‘community woodlands’ space – or even on Saxonvale? Could an investment scheme be set up for people who wanted to invest in EdSpaces but can’t house one themselves? Mendip Town Council have a statutory responsibility to support self-build projects by local people – so how can we get them interested and involved?
The evening ended with heartfelt thanks to all the 250 or so people who’ve supported the series of nine events organized during 2017 by Fair Housing for Frome, and to Frome Town Council who provided the funding. A final event is being planned for Spring 2018 to share learnings and discuss next steps. To get an invitation to this event, visit www.fairhousingforfrome.org.uk. For more information about EdSpace visit www.edspaceliving.
Here is the presentation which summarises the conversations in this meeting. Actions we developed from these conversations will be the starting point of the follow-up meeting on Monday 26th June at the Blue House on the Bridge, Frome. From 6-8 pm
Also, we discussed the content of this meeting on Frome FM lately and a podcast of the programme can be downloaded from here
Toby Eliot, mayor of Frome, asked this question to the candidates yesterday. “What do you intend to do to provide affordable housing for the young and single households? Frome needs more housing for the low paid.”
Here is a video of the replies:
4:15 – 6 Monday 8th May
Following on from Saturday’s Public Meeting, join us to continue conversations, share your ideas and hear about the actions we are taking. If you didn’t make it on Saturday, this is also a chance to have your voice heard or to find out more Fair Housing for Frome. This will be an informal meeting in the Grain Cafe Bar. Free. All welcome.
On Saturday 29th April, Fair Housing for Frome launched its one–year campaign to raise awareness of and find solutions to the housing crisis in Frome with a lively public meeting attended by more than 60 people.
The event was opened by Frome Mayor Toby Eliot, who described it as a wonderful model of community activism. “This is one of the most important issues facing our town” he said. “The people of Frome chose to fund it through the Town Council’s participatory budgeting process last month, and are now coming together to see what’s in their power to change. This is an example of what Frome does and the extraordinary way that it tackles problems. Its good to see so many people here.”
The assembled crowd listened to four moving stories of local housing need. The first was a young working couple who are leaving their home town because they can’t find stable affordable accommodation in Frome.
Louise and her family are in the process of fitting out a van with beds for them and their three young children in case they can’t find a new rented home before their current tenancy expires.
Pete is paying £70 per week to share a bedroom with one of his mates rather than go back on the street.
James has spent the winter in a yurt with his two children aged 4 and 6 years, without running water or electricity. He is self-employed and has been turned down for a mortgage even though his parents will help him with the deposit.
It turned out that some of the people present at the meeting had equally harrowing stories to share. One woman who spoke up is fighting the eviction of her family just as her 18-year old son is preparing for his A-Levels. Another mother spoke about having to go round to her friends and beg them for something to eat because all the family’s money was going on their housing.
Real-life stories of housing need were interspersed with worrying facts about the extent of the housing crisis.
After this powerful beginning to the meeting, participants divided into six groups focusing on: homelessness, shared living, self build, tenants and landlords and housing policy. There was also a ‘What if?’ group looking at fresh ideas and approaches. After a tea break full of lively conversations, questions and suggestions were put to a panel of national and local housing experts. Information stands were provided by Mendip District Council, Mendip Credit Union and Frome Co-Housing.
Many practical suggestions were made during the afternoon. These included: setting up a Frome-owned investment company that can buy and let properties at an affordable rent; developing a Community Land Trust; recruiting and training up a team of volunteer advocates to support families in housing crisis; building on the Fair Landlords scheme; and providing better information about what is already available. Simon Keyes, who chaired the panel, also encouraged those present to make housing a key issue in the upcoming election, noting that it was disappointing that MP David Warburton had chosen not to attend.
The next meeting of Fair Housing for Frome will take place from 6-8pm on Monday 22 May at Frome Town Hall, focusing on the potential of self build. It’s free of charge and everyone is welcome. For more information and to join the mailing list visit www.fairhousingforfrome.org.uk.