In 2000, residents in the Ashley Vale Area of Bristol created a non-profit company to purchase and redevelop a former scaffolding yard in the heart of their community.
The Ashley Vale Action Group (AVAG) was formed following concerns about the commercial redevelopment of the site with a major house builder expressing an interest in erecting 35 new houses.
The Action Group believed they could do things a little better with a development that would enhance their community, incorporating affordable housing, work and leisure areas whilst remaining committed to innovation and environmental sustainability.
'AVAG believes that building developments should be community-based, environmentally-sensitive initiatives, rather than profit-driven commercial enterprises.'
The group purchased the land in 2001 and reallocated lots for resale as self build and self finish opportunities. To ensure a homogeneous approach to environmental sustainability, each self builder/finisher had to sign a legal contract committing to AVAG's principles of ecological design.
Environmental sustainability went further by reusing existing buildings on site and reusing the reinforced concrete slab that covered the whole site as a foundation for new houses, reducing excavation, waste and replacement materials.
Ten years on and with the final phase completed in 2009, 'The Yard' as it is affectionately referred to, is a thriving community housing over 100 people with 41 self built and self finished homes, a busy community space and 3 occupied work units.
Not only has the site provided homes and created a new community but many of the people who worked on the project have gone on to start their own businesses with new skills acquired during the project.
With a string of awards standing testament to Ashley Vale's success, it really is a fantastic example of the collective strength and creativity of community self build and an excellent model for future projects.
Visit the Ashley Vale Action Group website to find out more.