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History of Southsea Self Help Housing Co-operative


Move To Permanent Housing

As mentioned in the ‘Short Life’ section, in late ’82, P.H.A. had spoken to the council regarding our interest in the Garnier St. plot of land, becoming independent, and registering with the Housing Corporation. In September ’83, it was agreed that P.H.A be our managing agent should we be successful in our registration, obtaining houses and land, and securing a grant. This was finalised in Jan. ’84.. We had prepared a Development Agreement with P.H.A, which we had to submit to the H.Corporation for their approval.

In Nov. ’83, we had a meeting with P.H.A and the council to discuss their support for our registration. The ‘catch 22’ situation was such that SSHH would need to be registered to apply for funding, yet registration would be dependent on us being engaged in a housing development. It was important to discuss securing a base in Garnier St.

Garnier St
Garnier Street
Garnier Street Garnier Street

There was a situation with the houses (18 – 24) that was later to become a problem. All of the properties owned by the council in G. St. had been purchased under the 1957 Housing Act. This act specified that  Department of the Environment approval was necessary for their re-sale. P.H.A thought that this ‘consent to dispose’  may not be forthcoming to a group such as ourselves.

Garnier Street
Garnier Street
26 Garnier Street 32 Garnier Street

The proposals on the table were:

~  Council tenants in Garnier St. be invited to purchase their houses.

~  Those unwilling to buy their council houses be transferred, and the houses offered for sale.

~  The council sell 4 properties in G.St. to Southlands housing Association (P.H.A’s ‘sister’ association), who would develop them for shared ownership.

~  The council sell 4 houses (18 – 24) to SSHH who would develop them for ‘Fair Rent’ housing.

Garnier Street
Garnier Street
Garnier Street Garnier Street

The council were also intending to a survey of local residents to get their views on the use of the land, and assess the feasibility of turning the land (26 – 34) into a resident’s car park. This would cause additional problems for the co-op.

We also believed that some members of the Housing Committee were against the idea of a housing co-op.

Garnier Street
Garnier Street
Garnier Street Garnier Street

Meanwhile, we held a meeting with P.H.A’s in house Architects at ‘Care & Repair’ (the Architects Shop), with a view to agreeing outline plans for the houses, and development of flats on the vacant plot, to put forward for planning permission. It was agreed that  should we obtain the houses, they be re-habilitated in their present form, rather than make any dramatic structural alterations. Regarding the proposed newbuild, it was initially agreed that we should have 7 units – 5 x 2 bed flats, and 2 x 1 bed flats.

Lucknow Street
Lucknow Street
Lucknow Street Lucknow Street

It was decided to include provision for an Office / meetings room, although it was unclear whether there would be funding for this.

Lucknow Street Plan
Plan for Lucknow Street

Portsea Site

With the uncertainty surrounding the Garnier St. proposals, another alternative possibility was presented to us by P.H.A. in late ’83. A site in Portsea (King William St.), earmarked for development since 1979, may become available. They were 3 – 4 storey council blocks, some in an advanced state of disrepair, and it appeared that the council didn’t have the money to develop the site. The idea was put forward that a housing co-op may be able to secure funds to build new family houses and single person’s flats.

A steering group was formed, consisting of ourselves, Portsea Ward Councillors, and council officers. There were a few meetings, and a number of questions asked, and conclusions reached:
If the council had no money to develop the site, and it was sold to private developers to build houses for sale, they would most likely to be beyond the reach of local residents:
Funding for a housing co-op may be available from the Housing Corporation, if a scheme was approved:
The co-op would be open to local residents:

There were fears that the council were evading their responsibilities. If Grant finance could be available for a housing co-op, why couldn’t the same money be available for the council to develop?
Also, there was a bit of suspicion about a group ‘moving into’ the area, that was already established in another part of the city.

At the last meeting, it was concluded that a small (revival) committee of the Portsea Community Association be formed, to try to press the council to develop the site.
As far as we were concerned, this went no further, and other events overtook it.

Garnier Street Garnier Street
Garnier Street Garnier Street

On February 16th ’84, the council agreed to sell to us No’s 18 – 24 Garnier St., subject to our registration with the H.Corporation, which they also agreed to support.
In July, they agreed an allocation to us of  £160,000 from it’s Housing Investment Programme (H.I.P). This came as something of a surprise to us, as we had only been expecting / hoping for  money in the form of Housing Association Grant (H.A.G) from the Housing Corporation.
In August, P.H.A. put  in a bid on our behalf to buy the vacant plot of land (26 – 34 G.St.). Back in March, there had actually been confusion as to who owned the land…..The council or P.I.M.C.O. ! – ( it was the council)

As mentioned, D.O.E consent was required for the sale of the houses. A bit later on – June ’85, an application was made to the D.O.E for consent to dispose, and at the same time, No’s 34 & 36 were added to the (H.C. funded) element of the scheme.

During this period, we had surveyed our  membership with a Questionnaire, regarding future housing needs:

~  Do we want to continue with short  life housing, alongside the permanent development?
~  What type of accommodation was desirable, ie: self-contained / shared, houses / flats, etc.

26 Garnier Street
Garnier Street
26 Garnier Street Garnier Street

Some members questioned the motives of the council in allocating us £160K. Would there be strings attached, such as a 50% nomination right on tenant allocations?  (this didn’t happen).
It was believed that the council would insist on car parking being provided in any NEWBUILD scheme. (this didn’t happen).
There were fears for quite some time that due to it’s condition, No. 26 G.St. would have to be demolished. (this didn’t happen).

Over the next  2 years, things, especially regarding the funding arrangements, became immensely more complicated than we had envisaged. The following points are sketchy and incomplete, but give a general idea of how, sometimes against the odds, we managed to get the 3 schemes up and running.

We were having innumerable meetings with P.H.A. & the H.Corporation, who in turn were meeting with the council regarding their support, and promise of money. We produced a breakdown of the number of units we hoped to have, in both the RE-HAB, and NEWBUILD schemes  -  about  50. It was agreed that we submit this to the H.Corporation.

By  January ’85, outline plans for the Newbuild were completed by the Care & Repair  Architects Shop.

On 11th March, our registration with the Housing Corporation was complete.

In April, we interviewed 7 Architects. We appointed The Energy Conscious Design Partnership (E.C.D,  -  London), with 2 in reserve – Edmonds Associates, and Makins, Carter & Kerr.

Garnier Street
Garnier Street
Garnier Street Garnier Street

In May, we were looking at allocations criteria for the long term housing. We formed a ‘long term selection panel’ for this purpose. We also agreed to make one flat in the Newbuild wheelchair accessible.  

By the end of July, the basic scheme in G.St. had been agreed. The houses (18 – 24) as family houses. The Newbuild  as 2 x 2 bed, 1 x 3 bed, and 1 x disabled person’s flats. No. 26 would become a shared house, but was being pursued separately, bought by P.H.A from P.I.M.C.O, later to be transferred to us. No’s 34 + 36 were initially envisaged as a conversion to a 6 bedroom shared house! (that didn’t happen).

In November, we made a bid to the H.Corporation (’86/’87 finance) to develop the site at 262 – 270 Somers Rd. North. We discovered that the council would put in £130,000 for the above, on the basis of a ‘pound for pound’ deal that had been agreed.

From this point on, there was a bit of juggling of the funds. We now envisaged that the council funds be for S.Rd. North, and the H.Corporation take on the 18 – 24 G.St. scheme (£160K).

The Architects (E.C.D.) drew up a feasibility study for S.Rd. North – a mix of 2 x 3 bed houses, 3 x 1 bed flats, etc. Even at this stage, we were aware that the council may be more interested in the site as a car park.

Also in November, to council’s application to the D.O.E for ‘consent to dispose’ (18-24, and 34 & 36 G.St) was rejected. It was agreed to appeal on this.

In early ’86 there were problems. The council withdrew the funding approval for the S.Rd. North scheme, and they were not supporting our appeal on the sale of the G.St. houses. With the backing of P.H.A, and a local M.P. an appeal was eventually launched, in July, by which time the council were now supporting us, plus agreeing to the funding of S.Rd. North.

The sale of the land (26 – 34 G.St.) was held up over a clause that enabled the city to buy back the land should the scheme fail.
In March / April, loan approval & funding for Garnier St. was approved.

Lucknow Street
Lucknow Street
Lucknow Street Lucknow Street

Around this time we were phasing out work with E.C.D. Architects. The scheme they had prepared for S.Rd. North proved too expensive. Makins, Carter & Kerr  were taken on to come up with a cheaper  scheme. They were also completing the design for Garnier St.

We were also showing an interest in a scheme at Lucknow St. As mentioned, both P.H.A. and E.C.D Architects thought that due to it’s condition, Lucknow St. should be demolished. In any event, it was considered it  would be too expensive to re-habilitate.

In November, we put in a bid for £1 million to the H.Corporation for a NEWBUILD. It was acknowledged that  we would be very unlikely to get this, but it would hopefully make future bids more feasible.

Later, in July ’87, we informed the council that we were interested in making a bid for Lucknow St. through the H.I.P. programme. We had surveyors looking at the buildings with a view to coming up with options, and the possible re-habilitation of the street.
In August, we had rough plans drawn up, and agreed that  in any scheme, we include 2 disabled person’s flats.
In September, we submitted these plans to the council, and quite soon had informal verification of funding.

However, despite this, as late as Oct ‘87 we had met with planners and discovered that our proposed scheme was contrary to the FRATTON PLAN, which designated the area as a car park!
It seemed that we had been blighted by the car park……..both actual, over the site of the old Besant Rd., and possible, G.St. land or obligatory parking with our Newbuild, Somers Rd. North site, and Lucknow St.

Lucknow Street
Garnier Street
Garden Party At Lucknow Street Garnier Street

Meanwhile, our appeal to the D.O.E. over the sale of the G.St. houses was successful, but for sale at market value rather than ‘historic cost’. This meant that the £160,000 was well short. Somehow we got around this. The eventual purchase price of the houses was £140,000.

In December ’86, a site investigation at  26 – 34 G.St, (a former bomb site) revealed a Gas Main which had been overlooked, and would have to be removed. This caused a set back, as it took some time for the Gas Board to remove it.

In  January ’87, plans for the Newbuild were finalised, and we drew up a list of 7 contractors.

There were on going discussions about possible council nominations for Somers Rd. North. Initially, we to have 100% of the lettings, with the council having 50% on 2nd, and subsequent lettings. We got around this.

In March, The D.O.E. approved the sale of the S.Rd. North land to us.

In August, we had agreed the revised scheme, drawn up by the new Architects., and formally resolved to buy the land. (at the same time as the purchase of 18 – 24, and 34 & 36 G.St.).
By December, the sale was complete.

Work on the Garnier St. Newbuild began around the end of June ’87. We were soon interviewing applicants for the disabled person’s flat (28). The official Plaque laying was on 11th September, although the scheme was not fully complete until early ’88.
Work on the houses was on site in mid ’88, as was Somers Rd. North.
Lucknow St. cam a bit later, with the final scheme, houses, office & flats being completed in 1990.

A glance at the ‘About Us’ section of this site shows that the final mix of housing is very close to that which we had aimed for – before we had anything (apart from the short-life schemes).

D. Perry

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