Afallon Co-operative Housing scheme opens in Rhyl

From Brett Sadler, North Wales Housing

When you have been working in housing as long as I have (15+ years), it’s not often that you get to work on something that is completely new. In the case of co-operative housing, this was definitely the case!

At North Wales Housing we hadn’t been involved in developing co-operative housing before, but we were keen to develop these skills. So we were very pleased when the opportunity arose to work in partnership with the West Rhyl Community Land Trust (WRCLT) and Welsh Government.

Has it been an easy project? No. But it has been a hugely rewarding one to be involved in. In partnership with WRCLT we have developed an allocations policy, a management agreement and even a name for the scheme (Afallon meaning ‘blissful place’) from scratch – no easy feat. But in the case of the allocations policy, all of the properties were let as soon as they were handed over from the contractors, so success!

As with many of the co-operative housing projects that have been undertaken in Wales, a key part of the project was the development of the Afallon Co-operative tenants into a group that could work (and live) together. One particular memory I have is attending a session early on in the group’s training programme, to speak to the Afallon Co-operative tenants about our Housing Association’s role in the project. At this meeting, I saw first-hand how well the tenant group members were already getting on with each other. At that meeting, they selected a Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary, with agreement from all members and a minimum of fuss. It was a fantastic step forward in the development of the Afallon Co-operative.

The scheme itself has been a complicated part new build, part refurbishment, which has produced 7 houses and 4 flats. As part of the development there is also a community space, along with a shop, giving lots of scope for the scheme to go from strength to strength.

Going forward, the real test will be seeing how the new Afallon tenants work together as a co-operative, building on their skills as a group and being able to influence and decide what goes in within their scheme. I for one am looking forward to seeing the Afallon Co-operative scheme continue go from strength to strength.

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