Co-operative reclaims social housing

Members of a North West housing co-op have purchased their home after receiving a loan from us. Now they want to help others do the same.

The four members of Castle Rockdove Housing Co-op have been living together for a number of years but formally set up as a co-operative two years ago, after being spurred into action by the news that their landlord wanted to sell. They recently drew a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance to help buy their flat in Rockdove Avenue, an estate of 245 flats in Hulme, Manchester which was built as council housing in 1948.

The four flatmates are also members of other co-ops – Carbon Co-op, Glebeland City Growers and Manchester Radical Social Centre – and say that living and working co-operatively allows them more time, energy and freedom to spend on projects which will benefit their community.

Matt Fawcett, who has lived in the flat for 10 years, said: “You find that when people are free from the tyranny and stress of paying extortionate rent prices, they have time to think creatively about implementing social change. We need to stem the tide of privatisation so that people can stay in their homes and feel secure.”

Since becoming owners, the co-op members are making changes which will make the property more sustainable, energy efficient and eco-friendly. Having successfully purchased their own flat, the co-op is looking to help others in their area do the same thing, and has been approached by other renters in their building for advice and guidance on the process. They acknowledge that it isn’t always easy, though:

“Banks are generally not interested in lending to people like us; people who earn below market rates and who want to borrow a relatively small amount. It’s really difficult to find a mortgage lender as a co-op, but Co-operative & Community Finance came to the rescue! They talked to us and they really understand our project.”

Ian Rothwell said: “The four members are part of the co-op sector in this part of Manchester, and are committed to and enthusiastic about co-operative living and working. Although they are all employed, none of them are earn high salaries and setting up the co-op is an ideal way of ensuring affordable accommodation.”

The members of Castle Rockdove are currently discussing expansion options and are looking for investments from £200, at much better interest rates than you’ll find at your local bank. If you’re interested in investing please get in touch with Matt Fawcett: