Sunday, 7 February 2010

Lancaster Cohousing wins share of £500,000 Low Carbon Communities Challenge grant!


Sustainable Living Projects Celebrate
£500,000 Grant for Halton Gorge Site

For Immediate Use


Lancaster Cohousing, in partnership with LESS and Halton Community Association, has won a £500,000 grant to refurbish a derelict factory, install new solar panels, and develop a develop a community owned hydro-electric scheme at Halton Gorge near Lancaster, for the benefit of local people and local businesses.

The grant, which will be shared equally between the three groups, comes from the government’s Low Carbon Community Challenge (LCCC), a programme which aims to see ambitious cuts in carbon emissions at community level.

The Halton project is one of just 22 projects across the country to win one of these grants.

Lancaster Cohousing is a group of households who have been working and meeting together for the last four years. They plan to build around 30 cutting edge zero-carbon homes on the edge of Halton village. At the centre will be a common house with shared facilities such as eating and living spaces, childcare space, guest bedrooms and laundry facilities.

The site also includes a derelict engineering factory housed in an old Victorian mill, which will be refurbished to provide managed office space, workshop areas and studios for local businesses and arts and craftspeople. The grant provides for Lancaster Cohousing to fully insulate the factory and to install a biomass boiler, fired on wood products. Halton Community Association will install the Forge Weir Hydro, which will harness hydroelectric power from the River Lune while Lancaster’s environmental organisation, LESS (Local & Effective Sustainable Solutions) will provide solar roofs for The Mill, Boathouse and Out of the Woods buildings. The electricity provided from the Forge Weir Hydro and the solar roof panels will be sold locally, to the cohousing residents and others – and profits will go to develop new environmental projects in the village.

While many of the houses have already been snapped up the project is keen to hear from individuals, families or couples who are interested in taking up one of the 8 – 10 remaining houses, and from businesses who are interested in using the Mill facilities.

Jon Sear, Lancaster Cohousing project manager, said:
“It’s fantastic that DECC have recognised that we are planning something really special. But our project won’t just be a national example of low carbon living it will deal with the dereliction of the former North West Engineering factory so that the whole of Halton Gorge is a more pleasant place to visit. The local economy and environment will benefit because we will source food locally, not add to traffic congestion, and can approach the design of the site in a different way to a profit-driven developer. The business space should appeal especially to businesses who would benefit from being part of a vibrant working community, adjacent to a nationally recognised eco development.”
The project hopes to start work on the mill refurbishment this summer and be open for business by mid 2011. The houses should be ready in early 2012. Lancaster Cohousing hopes that this project will inspire others to seek sustainable solutions to working and living.
Halton resident Emily Jefferson said: “I think it’s wonderful that the village can use the power of the river that is so much part of this village and that it will help the community. Like many things that are right in front of you, it’s often the obvious that you miss – someone pointed out that perhaps we can use that power – and here we are able to bring it into fruition.”
Lancaster Cohousing runs regular site tours (please book in advance).

People are also welcome to the planning application preview meeting on Wednesday 17 February from 6.30pm at Halton Youth and Community Centre.

Regular Site Tours:
- 4.15pm on the last Thursday of the month (an opportunity to look at the proposed workshops/office/studio space in the mill.)
- 1pm on the fourth Sunday of the month (tour of the whole Cohousing project site, including the location of the proposed hydropower unit and solar panels).

Meet the Members - Open Brunch at the Whale Tail, Penny Street, Lancaster from 11am on the fourth Sunday of the month.


Lucy and Huw 01524 65808
Kathy, Paul and Pete 01524 842924
Luke and Elizabeth (for families) 01524 599165
Managed Workspace, Paul 01524 842924 , Fiona 07778 737681
Or email

Notes for Editors

Press Contacts: Jon Sear 01524 555919
Kathy Bashford 01524 842824
Fiona Frank 07778 737681

Further information about the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Low Carbon Community Challenge can be found on their website
Their press release is on giving information about the12 latest winners of the grant.