Thursday, 26 November 2015

Self build cohousing eco-community planned in Norwich

Original article


A group of people have teamed up to deliver a self build eco-cohousing community on a former industrial site in Norwich.
The Sussex Street Cohousing group has purchased the half-acre city plot to build nine houses and eight apartments surrounding an internal courtyard and sitting alongside flexible office space and retail facilities.
The homes will make use of natural light through large south-facing windows and retain the gathered heat through high insulation levels and Mechanical Ventilation Heat recovery (MVHR) systems. A whole-building biomass boiler will provide an efficient overall heating system and flat roofs will store grey water for flushing toilets.
Similar cohousing schemes usually see residents sharing facilities - normally within an 'Common House' - for cooking, eating, washing clothes and socialising. They may also share laundry amenities and might even collectively grow food via an on-site allotment.
The Sussex Street Cohousing group currently consists of supporters and an overarching Community Interest Company (CIC). Once the development is completed, the CIC will sell each home to the supporters. The CIC will eventually manage and maintain the scheme, in a similar way to how a Community Land Trust operates – and the homebuyers will each become members.
An introductory drop-in session to allow people to find out more about the proposals is being held this Saturday (7th November) at The Stage in Norwich from 11am.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Public bodies hiding behind confidentiality

I have been concerned for some time that public bodies hide behind "confidentiality" to avoid critiscism.  It seems this is a global issue.  Firstly though this article is interesting:
original article

"The ruling will affect businesses bidding to win contracts from the Government and public sector organisations. They now cannot expect confidential information they provide during the procurement process to be exempt from public disclosure, even if the confidentiality of the information has been promised, said Laura Gilliespie, a regulatory expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind"

In Australia the rules around confidentiality appear to have been more clearly defined:
original article
"Informing the Public

The first factor requires a balance to be made between private and public rights.

In considering that balance, it is useful to note that the sensitivity of commercial information is not indefinitely uniform. Commercial information is particularly valuable when it relates to the future (to plans not yet implemented or tenders not yet awarded). This is because the benefits attaching to future plans or tenders have not been secured and the benefits are at risk of being usurped by others.

After the potential benefits have been secured by contracts, deeds or agreements, the sensitivity or value of commercial information used to secure those agreements is significantly reduced.

This distinction between ex-ante and ex-post commercial information is evident in a wide range of laws and practices concerning the release of commercial information.

It is evident, for example, in requirements on companies to disclose commercial information (including requirements obliging companies to issue official statements) so that the market can be properly informed of developments that are material to the company (so called continuous disclosure requirements). These disclosure requirements are justified on the basis that there should be an informed market, notwithstanding the remaining sensitivity of commercial information that must be disclosed."

Useful info:

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

£600,000 worse off over a lifetime... The true cost of renting

Original link

PEOPLE in Bristol who never buy a house will be £600,000 worse off over a lifetime than those who can buy in their twenties, new research shows. A study by housing charity Shelter highlights the financial, social and psychological implications of the South West's housing shortage for people who are unable to own a home of their own.
Analysts studied the income and assets of three sets of people: those who have help onto the property ladder in their twenties, those who are only able to buy after years of saving, and "renting lifers" who can never buy.

The study looked at a range of factors, including house prices and rents, earnings, essential living costs and interest rates, and discovered that families that rent for life in the South West end up £603,800 worse off, on average, over their lifetime.

The research also found that renting for life went hand-in-hand with people having less stability in their finances, careers and relationships. And renters also reported feeling alienated, left out or jealous when friends and peers had help from family to buy their own homes, and "looked down on" for not being a homeowner. Some people said they were putting off parenthood because they don't have a stable home of their own.

More than 80 per cent of private renters say they would like to own their own home, according to a YouGov poll carried alongside the research. Of those renters who would like to buy, 41 per cent think it is unlikely that they ever will.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The housing shortage is changing the face of our nation, with dramatic consequences for those finding themselves priced out and losing out. The failure of successive governments to build the affordable homes we need means that, for the first time in over half a century, millions of young people today face worse prospects than their parents.

"Everyone should have the chance of a stable future where they can put down roots, but for many the reality is a lifetime of frustration that they can't move on in life, coping with expensive and unstable private renting, and feeling alienated from their friends who get help from mum and dad.

"We need politicians to deliver a big and bold plan that will finally get to grips with our housing shortage."