Knowle West Media Centre (phase one)

Funding at a glance

Programme: Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System
Amount: £161,160 grant
Approved: 2018
Timescale:  18 months
Status: Funding complete

The We Can Make project, run by Knowle West Media Centre, is exploring an innovative way to use micro-sites on a low-density housing estate in south Bristol, to create affordable homes. This page covers phase one of the project. 

Why we funded this project

The aim of this project was to support the community to deliver its own affordable housing and address its affordable housing shortage problem. By testing a model and creating tools to support the community, Knowle West Media Centre is working to enable up to 350 sites to be transferred to the community so that new homes can be created.

Strategic purpose

Improved understanding of which ideas have potential to create change.

Project description

We Can Make 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 micros-sites are typically land in large back-gardens or between buildings, such as grassed verges.

Although not all of these micro-sites will be suitable, We Can Make estimates that homes could be created on 10-15% of them. This would create a significant supply of land to build affordable housing in Knowle West, where there is currently a huge shortage.

The estate also suffers with a lack of housing diversity, with almost all the homes being three-bed semi-detached houses. 54% of the properties are occupied by just one or two people, many of whom feel stuck because there are no smaller, more suitable homes to move to within the area. 75% of people from Knowle West who are on the council house register are waiting for a one or two-bedroom home so that they can downsize.

Creating homes for people to downsize will free-up the supply of properties for families who need more space to move into.

Knowle West is an area of Bristol with high levels of deprivation. This project has a specific focus on people who are in housing need and whose current home is unsuitable for their needs. These include:

  • New Shoots’: families with an urgent need for more space, but who are unable to get on the property ladder themselves and are currently living in with their extended families’ homes, causing over-crowding.
  • ‘Downshifters’: individuals or couples whose homes are too big for them due to children moving out, yet there are no smaller homes in Knowle West
  • ‘Better fits’: families where one or more member has changing mobility needs that require different living arrangements, such as a bungalow.
  • ‘Making Ends Meet’: those in financial need and who are willing to swap space for extra income, such as people working out how to support themselves through retirement.

Funding from the Nationwide Foundation supported the We Can Make project in the following ways: 

Financial and delivery model: Exploration of different models of financing the new homes. It will develop options for generating a community dividend. It will also test the financial sustainability and replicability of the project.

Community design code: A collective resource that will help simplify the planning application process and enhance the quality and character of the build environment. Residents will be able to choose from a menu of different property designs.

Digital platform for user engagement: This tool will match housing need to housing supply. It will create an online space where people can register their interests, and explore options that work for their different housing needs.

Suppliers’ framework for local production and construction: Knowle West Media Centre aims to use local suppliers and contractors as much as possible for the development. Knowle West Media Centre will consult with the community to produce a suppliers’ framework covering aspects such as cost, use of local labour and use of local materials. One of the benefits of the project will be the creation of new jobs and training opportunities in Knowle West.

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

We Can Make

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