Environmental Development

Saffron Lane Neighborhood Council (SLNC) first became aware of the area of land known as the Mud Dumps (Whittier Road ex-allotment site) in 1997, after an estate-wide ‘Planning for Real’ exercise that consulted with over 4,000 local residents highlighted it as a blight on the community, and as an area that attracted antisocial behavior. The other key areas of concern that came from the consultation were a lack of training and employment opportunities in the area, a shortage of housing for local families, and a lack of green space.

The above concerns have been repeated over and over again in evaluations and consultations on behalf of the Single Regeneration Budget, New Deal Initiative and Neighbourhood Development Planning, and are also confirmed by the Saffron Lane Estate’s position in the top 1% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation statistics. SLNC’s Management Committee is made up of local residents and key professionals from the area. Several trustees have children and grand children who live locally, and have a personal investment in developing projects that benefit the area and its residents. In 2010 trustees and local residents joined together to look at ways of tackling the above issues by developing the site. The unanimous decision in the early stages was to open the site up to the public, creating more green space, and for the provision of social housing.

Community Consultation

Since that time we have worked closely with other local resident’s groups to put together a set of designs based around the ideas provided by individuals that we consulted with. These plans, which were completed in 2011, have now been on display at local Schools and Community Centre’s, and have been distributed to key community groups within the area to enable residents to raise any concerns or issues. The general consensus around the project has been extremely positive (more than we initially expected), with over 90% of individuals consulted saying that they thought the project would have a positive impact on the area and the individuals who live within it.

Sketch

The majority of the concerns that were registered were mainly focused on who would live in the homes once they were built. Once we had confirmed that there would be priority for local residents with a legitimate connection to the area, their worries were appeased. Two Community Organisers based at the Saffron Resource Centre during 2012 spoke to hundreds of people about their hopes and aspirations’ regarding the area, and unsurprisingly their list of concerns was much the same as in past consultations. Residents were also asked their opinion regarding the initial designs for the site, which got an almost unanimously positive response, especially around the opportunities for employment and training, and because of the changes to the Housing Benefit rules which are likely to see a massive increase in demand for new social housing.

Homes for Local People

Our aim is now to build a social housing development of a high quality environmentally sustainable nature, centred around the Saffron Acres Project. We propose to use an eco-friendly construction method which is extremely cost-effective, easy to build with, and will help towards our aim of a carbon neutral site. Each home will have photovoltaic panelling and solar water heating systems on south facing roofs. We plan to use a centrally situated heating system to provide under floor heating for each house, with individual wood burning stoves within each property. There will also be countless opportunities after the initial build, for people to volunteer and gain new skills to support lifestyle change and develop employment opportunities.

Residents will be able to engage in day-to-day work on the farm, allowing them to access a supply of cheap fresh food, improving personal well-being on both physical and mental health levels. This 22 acre site benefits from having a 12 acre arable farm, six acres of open natural space, and four acres on which we plan to build the housing project. It occupies a unique location close to the heart of the city, providing fantastic access to transport networks, local schools and amenities, and would enable residents of the proposed site to decrease their carbon footprint by accessing local facilities and reducing car use.

For more information please contact
Neil Hodgkin on 0116 2837212 or
email neil.hodgkin@srcentre.org.uk