What if communities had the power to create the homes they need? …Southmead is already doing it!


Our very own Deana Perry went to speak on a panel event on Monday, which was part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas and looked at the question – What would happen if communities had the power to create the homes they need?

‘We Can Make’ is a community led project exploring new ways to meet peoples’ housing needs. New homes can be created on ‘micro sites’ perhaps in big back gardens or between buildings. Both Council tenants and homeowners can opt in.

There are a range of designs to suit communities’ needs using local skills and materials. This helps support local jobs and training and there are options from self-build to completely finished homes.  We enjoyed our hot dogs after the show in one of these homes; it was everything you could wish for.

The chat show consisted of a panel of four people with two hosts sat on a stage. There was a gentleman from London, another from Knowle West and a lady from Liverpool. We all introduced ourselves and where we were from and then talked a little bit (me a lot) about how our projects started.

I went first and talked about The Arnside and Glencoyne Square Regeneration project. I talked about the creation of 120 new homes, a new Health Centre and Library and the award of £3.6 million from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.  This was greeted with a huge round of applause. The gentleman from London went next and when he said that he felt quite jealous of our 120 homes (his project was creating only 33 homes) I kind of brought the house down when I said “Oh, this is only Phase One!” (lots of laughter and cheering).

Hazel from Liverpool went next and she talked about Council houses being boarded up and left to rot. Out of 26 homes in one street only six were occupied. The children of families who used to live there started coming back and a small group of residents began pulling up a few paving stones and planting flowers. People started putting up curtains across the boarded-up windows and showed that they loved their community. Hazel and a group of residents are now working with the Council to regenerate these homes after years and years of the Council refusing to even talk to them (people power!).

The whole evening was focused on residents and what they can achieve in their community, and I have been asked to visit another community in Bristol to talk about what we have done in Southmead.

The Arnside and Glencoyne Square Project has been resident led and we should be very proud of that. As I told Asher Craig (Deputy Mayor) a few years ago when she visited Southmead – “Community assets are not just buildings, the most important community assets are the residents themselves”. 

Written by Deana Perry- 15th October 2019

If you want to find out more about Southmead Regeneration, visit www.southmead.org/regeneration or call the Greenway Centre on 0117 950 3335.