Bridport Area Community Housing is one of the organisations seeking creative ways to address the lack of affordable housing for local people in this part of West Dorset.
In common with many UK towns, Bridport has a housing problem, as many locals struggle to find a home that they can afford to rent, let alone buy. This leads to feelings of hopelessness, as people have no alternative but to stay in unsuitable, crowded accommodation – or even move away altogether.
The need for affordable housing in the area is even greater than before the pandemic and is likely to continue to grow. Currently 513 individuals and families in the Bridport area are on the the Housing Register as being in need of a home.
There is hope, though, thanks to community initiatives such as Bridport Area Community Housing (BACH), a new non-profit community land trust. The organisation’s slogan is ‘Homes for local people, affordable for ever’, and it aims to inspire and implement solutions for the provision of affordable housing for people in genuine need.
“With the cost of housing, both rented and bought, now soaring ahead of the capacity of average local incomes, many families are already facing the stark choice that grown-up children have to continue living with their parents or move away,” says Tim Crabtree, a director of BACH. “However, a community land trust can permanently provide affordable housing for local people.”
The environmental movement’s exhortation to ‘think globally and act locally’ has never been more relevant than in the field of housing, and BACH is clear that it wants future builds to conform to the best technical standards and to be as carbon-neutral as possible.With this in mind, Tim has launched a pilot project called ‘Raise the Roof’ in partnership with Bridport Town Council and other organisations. The project aims to build a row of four or five houses to demonstrate the sustainable use of local resources such as timber and hemp. Structures will be rapidly assembled then self-finished by a group of households working together; this makes homes even more affordable as tenants complete some of the minor work themselves.
To succeed, BACH needs enthusiastic members to run it – people with the future of Bridport at heart. “You could have an impact on future generations living here, helping to strengthen the community to be resilient for our children and grandchildren, as well as ourselves,” says Tim. “Helping BACH is a way to fill the gaps created by hardship and austerity, breathing life back into our local community. You don’t need specialised skills or knowledge, just a desire to make living in Bridport better for the long term.”
Membership of BACH does not require attendance at meetings. Becoming a lifetime member involves buying one or more community shares (from £1), and perhaps adding to this through future share issues. However, coming along to the lively, friendly, informative meetings – currently being held online – is encouraged and is the most direct way to contribute practically to a brighter future for Bridport.
Membership information is online at www.bridportach.org.uk/join-us. You can also email queries to firstname.lastname@example.org