Five years after Bunker Housing Co-operative was founded in 2015 residents have moved into the first two self-build properties in East Brighton.

Martyn Holmes and his partner Agata Bogacka, who live in Brighton with their children, co-founded Bunker with another family in 2014.

They had spent five years trying to find ways to secure affordable housing in the city.

The idea developed as they chatted with their neighbours over the garden fence. Living in damp, cramped and overpriced private rented accommodation, both families, despite working full time, were struggling financially and were fed up with their housing situation.

They founded Bunker Housing Co-op in 2015 with the goal of housing low-income families living in private rented accommodation with little hope of either buying their own home or being housed by the local authority.

With support from Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust, Bunker Housing Co-op secured a plot of land on Plumpton Road in Brighton for a self-build pilot scheme and have been developing a couple of three-bedroom properties on the site since December 2018.

The two houses were built to the highest eco-friendly standards by members of Bunker, with the help of architects, and other construction professionals.

These beautiful homes, built to almost Passivhaus standards, were designed by architect Raphael Lee of Auraa Studios in London. BHESCo  designed and funded the low carbon heating and ventilation system to provide a low cost, affordable energy supply.

Rooftop solar panels deliver electricity to each home while a device diverts the excess power to a water storage cylinder, heating water from late spring to early autumn.

Tenacity has paid off. 

Working together as a housing co-operative has enabled them to collectively take back control of their housing.  Bunker’s membership is made up of local people in housing need with an emphasis on self-employed working families i.e. trades people, artists and freelancers.

The co-op will manage the homes which will remain as affordable rental properties in perpetuity. The super insulated wooden 3-bedroom eco homes were built using a modular system of cross laminated timber panels on an ex garage site leased from Brighton & Hove City Council. With rents that are truly affordable and low running costs the homes will be available to households on the housing register via membership of the co-op.

Bunker is currently working with their architects, BHCC, BHCLT and BHESCO at different stages of development on further BHCC sites throughout the City with the aim to build a further 15 homes.

Asked how it felt to have finally moved into his new home, Mr Holmes said:

“With persistence and a lot of hard work we have done the impossible ... We are now the landlord and the tenants of our first two beautiful homes. Our two local families are now off the housing register, out of our insecure, damp, mouldy & overpriced private rented accommodation and into healthy, affordable and secure housing that we collectively own and control. We would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to BHESCo and everyone who has helped and supported us.”
Martyn Holmes
Bunker Housing Co-op

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