logo SSHH banner
About Us
How to apply
Members Area

History of Southsea Self Help Housing Co-operative


Short Life Housing Scheme

Before the opening of the first 2 houses 8 & 26 Garnier St. in late ’81, there had been a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ activity: Appointment of Auditors & Solicitors, registration with the National Federation of Housing Associations, and the Registrar of Friendly Societies, drawing up draft Licence Agreements, and Management Agreement with P.H.A., sorting out the Bank Account, and a loan from The Housing Association Charitable Trust, arranging publicity for, and invitations to the opening of the first 2 houses, taking photo’s of work in progress. And, not least, choosing the first licensees well in advance of completion of work.

34-36 Garnier St
early Garnier Street
34-36 Garnier Street Early Garnier Street

In March ’81, P.H.A put in a bid for £50,000 to the Housing Corporation for the 1982 short-life housing programme. This would come in the form of ‘Mini-Housing Association Grants’.  Director Bob Paterson was also talking to the Manpower Services Commission about the possibility of involving a ‘Community Enterprise Programme’ for next year. (These schemes were directed at the long term unemployed – these were the days of 3m. unemployed). This happened.

What followed was a ‘Pilot Scheme’ involving the renovation of No’s 18, 20, 34 & 36 Garnier St., obtained on 2 year Licences from Portsmouth City Council. Some of our own members & applicants were employed on the scheme. The Budget for each house was small, amounting to only about £1,700 per house.

8 Garnier Street
Cumberland Rd
Garnier Street Garden Lucknow Street

As with the first and subsequent houses, P.H.A remained Managing Agent. They supplied the contractors, although our own members were responsible for decoration, and some maintenance. This was the beginning of the ‘self-help’ element – the involvement of members, and development of the skills necessary to keep the scheme running. There was a useful book we had, called ‘The Self Help House Repairs Manual’. We welcomed people who had some building skills.

1982 was a very frantic period. We obtained Licences on 46 Garnier St, 77Lucknow St, and 8 & 10 Besant Rd. February ’83 marked the official opening of 8 & 10 Besant Rd. (our ninth & 10th house), surrounded by considerable publicity. The number of our Licensees / housed members had risen to about 30.By May 1984 this had risen to 40.

Bob Paterson
Bob Paterson Chairman

The Licensing arrangements for these properties were quite complex. Some were Council owned, and some, mostly Besant Rd. were owned by PIMCO. We also had some occasional houses outside the area, such as Lawson Rd., Kingston Crescent, & Southsea Terrace, which were sub-let to us from P.H.A. while awaiting their full renovation. During ’83 & ’84 many of the Licences on the local properties had expired, or coming up for expiry, and were renewed for another short term. It was a period where we were ‘in limbo’, awaiting the full outcome of the Public Inquiry into the FRATTON PLAN, and the inevitable demolition of Besant Rd. Nevertheless, the Building Team had been getting into full swing. As Mini-Hag Grants were phased out, we were taking on more of our own light repairs & maintenance.  We would beg / borrow / steal as necessary (anything legal!), and have weekend ‘blitzes’ on houses, using our own expertise, to bring them to a habitable condition. By January ’86, we were running a total of 21 houses, with an all time high number of Licensees – 65.

Lucknow Street
Meeting 59 Lucknow Street

As early as late 1982, discussions had been going on between us and P.H.A regarding ‘independence’ and pursuing a ‘long term’ housing development. P.H.A had already mentioned this to the Council. To stand any chance of this, we needed the support of the City Council, firstly to register with the Housing Corporation, and then apply for Grants, although it was rather more complicated than it first seemed.

To this end we produced a glossy style Brochure:  “SOUTHSEA SELF HELP HOUSING LIMITED – A HOUSING PROSPECTUS”.

This set out basically how we got where we were, the sort of people we house, and why we wished to develop. We needed show that we were complementing the Council’s own housing policy. It was aimed specifically at Council Housing Committee members, and the Housing Corporation. It was finished and ready for distribution by July ’83. We wished to be seen as a small, competent, reliable group, capable of managing our own housing. (And not of course the remnants of some student lefty types, that sat on roof tops and occupied houses.

Lucknow Street
Lucknow Street Early Garnier Street

There had also been some discussions about the desirability, or otherwise of operating short life alongside a permanent scheme. We’d had a visit from Anna Bowman, of West Hampstead Housing Association, and Co-op, who operate two such schemes. We had a meeting in September ’84, to discuss future plans. Nothing conclusive came out of this meeting except recognition that P.H.A would always have a stock of pre-development properties, available to us as short term lets, and that the Short-Life project had been a good testing ground for us. It was also thought that we may have to have some sort of management split, or even setting up a separate organisation if we did this.

In October 1984, we had a visit from a man from the Empty Property Unit (of Shelter). He offered general advice on getting the support of the Council. He encouraged us not to be elitist in our aims & objectives.
He also noted that our level of rent arrears was not too bad, at about 14%, and our maintenance standards and level of member activity were higher than many co-ops he had visited.

Back to History History


Home | About Us | Map | How to Apply | Policies

History | Gallery | Videos | Links | Contact

?2021 Southsea Self Help Housing Co-Operative