Low Impact Living Affordable Community (LILAC)

LILAC or the ‘Low Impact Living Affordable Community’ is a pioneering project in Leeds incorporating a number of innovative solutions to build an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community. Its participants hope it will offer a new model for affordable community housing across the UK.

Low Impact Living Affordable Community

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“The UK has several other cohousing projects, several other ecological projects and lots of affordable housing projects but LILAC will be the first project that does all these three things together.”

Tash Gordon – LILAC Co-founder and Treasurer

The LILAC project started life as the ideological musings of a group of friends who were not interested in traditional home ownership and wanted to explore the alternatives. Their ideas and enthusiasm gained momentum and they began holding open meetings to develop their ideas further. This culminated in the formation of a co-operative in 2009 and things started to happen.

The group formed a Mutual Home Ownership Society which is a financial and legal entity, democratically controlled by the residents and used to raise finance for the whole project. It retains ownership of the development and provides a framework of rules to control occupancy, management and the long-term affordability of the homes.

Residents secure an equity share in the scheme by purchasing a lease from the Society with an initial deposit and monthly payments set at around 35% of household income.

LILAC negotiated the purchase of a plot of land in Bramley from Leeds City Council and appointed White Design Associates to help them design the scheme based on co-housing design principles. The resulting scheme consists of 20 homes: six 1-bed, six 2-bed, six 3-bed and two 4-bed houses as well as a common house acting as a focal point for the community.

With low impact at the very heart of LILAC’s ethos, the design considered everything from using locally sourced materials to incorporating microgeneration, grey and black water recycling and minimizing the impact of daily life after completion.

An exciting addition was the decision to use the ModCell straw bale system as the main construction method. Modcell are prefabricated panels made from timber, straw bales and hemp. The resulting structures are super-insulated and airtight and the raw materials themselves are not only sustainable but also capture vast amounts of carbon during their lifetime.

Construction on the LILAC project was completed in 2013 and residents began moving in in May of that year.

LILAC Cohousing Documentary from LILAC on Vimeo.

At it’s heart, Low Impact Living Affordable Community consists of a diverse set of individuals united in their vision to create the best possible community living environment for themselves, their children, each other, future residents, the planet and as an example to others. Hats off to them!

To find out more, offer you support or to invest, visit the Low Impact Living Affordable Community website.


Find out more about co-housing projects in the UK.


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