The innovative Merry Hill (formally known as Shaldon Road) development in Bristol has won the Social Housing Award at the Insider South West Residential Property Awards 2022.
Led by Brighter Places, Bristol’s largest independent housing association, and Bristol Community Land Trust (BCLT) the project is delivering 50 high-quality affordable and shared ownership homes in Lockleaze.
Based on a unused allotment site sold by Bristol City Council to BCLT for community-led housing, the development has 26 homes for affordable rent and 24 for shared ownership. All units are spacious, finished to a high standard and designed for modern living.
However, the award recognised that the project ambition’s reach beyond simply creating much-needed affordable homes for local people. The Merry Hill scheme also has a focus on social value, carbon reduction, energy use management and creating a thriving community.
The scheme features an innovative self-finish model, which allows residents to work together as a community to install kitchens, flooring, tiling, decoration and carry out landscaping works across all the homes. Bristol worker’s co-operative, Ecomotive, who previously worked with BCLT on self-finish schemes, were appointed by Brighter Places to work with the residents on this element of the project.
The homes are built to Passivhaus principles to reduce energy use and resident heating bills. This includes triple glazed windows, improved airtightness, increased insulation levels, minimal thermal bridging and a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system that provides continuous fresh air into the homes.
A local lettings plan, agreed through collaboration with Bristol City Council, gives local residents who are over or under-occupying affordable homes in the area priority for letting the Merry Hill homes. As well as providing them with the chance to provide more suitable accommodation, it has the double benefit of releasing existing affordable housing stock in the area for re-let to other local families on Homechoice who are in housing need.
The development which started in March 2019 with contractor United Living was made possible by grant funding from Homes England and Bristol City Council.
The first residents moved into Merry Hill during February and March 2022 and the development is due to be fully completed by November 2022.
Anna Klimczak, Chief Executive of Brighter Places, said, “We are delighted to win this award which is a recognition of our commitment to providing high quality and energy efficient affordable homes in Bristol. It also highlights the incredible value of working closely alongside national, regional and community partnerships that make projects like Merry Hill a reality.
By bringing partner funding, expertise, and innovation together and working with local communities, Merry Hill is evidence that, with vision and ambition, social housing can provide high quality low carbon homes and the foundations of self-reliant, thriving communities.”
Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes said, “This is positive news for Lockleaze and a further step on our journey to deliver more affordable homes as we aim to tackle the housing crisis we all face. I’d like to congratulate Brighter Places, Bristol Community Land Trust and Ecomotive on this award for creating much-needed affordable and sustainable homes at Merry Hill. Their success shows that local partnerships and community-led schemes on sites enabled by Bristol City Council can create sustainable communities and help create quality new jobs in the local economy.”
Steve Dale, Chief Executive of Bristol Community Land Trust added, “Merry Hill was the vision of a small group of local people who wanted to do housing differently. It’s been a long and often difficult road, but today Merry Hill stands as an example of what can be achieved when local people find the right partners to make their vision a reality. It is the most ambitious community led housing project in our region to date, but with continued commitment from partners we will continue to reinvent what housing could and should look like in Bristol and beyond.”
Jackson Moulding, Director of Ecomotive, said, “It’s been an incredible privilege to work with the Merry Hill residents, most of whom had little or no experience of construction work before joining this project. Supporting them to learn key skills such as health and safety, tool use and practical tasks such as tiling and kitchen fitting, we’ve seen people develop in confidence and ability, taking great pride in adding the finishing touches to their homes. There is already a wonderful sense of community on the site. Managing 80+ residents on a building site has been a challenging task at times, but the success of this project demonstrates that self finish is possible at scale, and is an effective way of delivering affordable, resilient and connected communities.”
The judges from the Insider SW Residential Awards credited the Merry Hill development as having met the following criteria:
- Meeting needs of the local market, local strategy requirements and responding to the local demands
- The scheme showed a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and delivering homes to passivhaus principles
- The homes have design features chosen by the residents themselves and undertaking self finish works to their homes including painting, landscaping, internal fit out of kitchens and bathrooms