Future secured for Cornish housing co-op

A timely loan from Co-operative & Community Finance has helped to secure the future of the most southerly and westerly housing co-operative in England. On 29 September 2016 Spiral Collective Housing Co-operative became the owner of the Cottage and associated land and buildings on the picturesque Pendennis Headland in Falmouth, Cornwall.

ladderSpiral Collective had occupied the Cottage for 13 years on a short-term tenancy agreement. In 2003 a group of community activists in need of housing and workspace moved into the derelict premises owned by South West Water. Following discussions with the eviction team they were allowed to stay and granted permission to restore the buildings.

The property comprises a large 6-bedroom brick house, two detached workshops and a large garden with vegetable plot and open space. It is currently home to nine single adults aged between 21 and 49 whose various occupations include flag maker, gardener, writer and seaweed harvester. They all pay rent to the co-operative.

Tim van Berkel, who moved in two years ago, said: “Over the years many people have come and gone. They tend to stay for two to four years. There is one original resident here. One resident is pregnant and that’s a very positive sign for the future.”

In 2015 following a change of personnel and policy South West Water decided to sell the property and sought to evict Spiral Collective. “We thought that was going to be the end,” said Tim. “But with the help of Co-operative & Community Finance, Radical Routes and Triodos Bank and a very generous individual we managed to negotiate and complete the purchase of the property.”

In recent years the Cottage has become established as a small community hub. It hosts live music events in the garden and the workshops and large yard have been used by several start-up businesses. Having secured the long-term future of the property, Spiral Collective intends to increase and improve its links with the local community.

Ian Rothwell, Investment Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “We had to move quickly to secure the future of the Cottage and I’m very glad we did.

“Spiral is a housing co-op that uses the model rules developed by Radical Routes, and that is how they came to hear about us. I think there is a good synergy between Radical Routes and Co-operative & Community Finance. Both organisations have a total commitment to helping people take control – whether it is their living space or their work place. And both organisations insist on genuine mutuality and co-operation.”