Knowle West Media Centre (phase two)

Funding at a glance

Programme: Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System
Amount: £269,504 grant
Approved: 2019
Timescale:  18 months
Status: Funding in progress
Phase: Decent Affordable Homes Phase Two

The We Can Make project, run by Knowle West Media Centre, has been exploring innovative ways to use micro-sites on a housing estate in south Bristol to create affordable homes, since 2018. Following the success of phase one, further funding has been allocated to support the live-testing and delivery of affordable homes in Knowle West.

Why we are funding this project

The aim is to support the community to deliver its own affordable housing and therefore address its affordable housing shortage problem. By testing a model and creating tools to support the community, Knowle West Media Centre will enable up to 350 sites to be transferred to the community so that new homes can be created. Importantly, due to the type of post-war housing estate in Knowle West, this project had clear replicability across the UK.

Strategic purpose

Improved understanding of which ideas have potential to create change.

Project description

We Can Make has found that in Knowle West, a low-density, high deprivation 1930s housing estate in south Bristol, there are over 2,000 potential micro-sites where small homes could be constructed. The micro-sites are typically land in large back gardens or between buildings, such as grassed verges.

Toward the end of phase one, We Can Make completed a successful bid for funds from Homes England as part of the Community Housing Fund, that, with funding from the Nationwide Foundation, will allow it to move forward in developing 16 pilot homes.

As part of phase two, the project will look to secure planning permission, as well as building new properties and placing tenants in them. It will enable local people to develop their own homes, utilising nearby space to provide more flexible homes for their families.

As the project progresses, it is expected that many of the standard hurdles of affordable housing development will be met and overcome. For example, We Can Make will work with Bristol City Council to test changes to design codes in local planning frameworks, execute land swaps so that small parcels of land can be used and explore funding methods for the new homes.

A key part of this project, aside from delivering affordable homes in a way that suits the people of Knowle West, is the learning that will be captured and shared. The 1930s saw the widespread building of estates much like Knowle West across the country and so time will be spent during phase two capturing learning as it happens and making sure that similar estates could do the same thing. If reproduced at scale, the We Can Make model could be used elsewhere to provide homes in established communities across the UK.

Knowle West Media Centre has also received funding from Power to Change for the We Can Make project.

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