Download our petition sheet about the dodgy proposals for the new Dixons Trinity Chapeltown academy.
You can find out more about their plans on this page.
This document was prepared by Mark to act as a guide to object to planning proposal to build a combined primary & secondary school (circa 1,000+ people, pupils & staff) in a single huge building right next to ChaCo.
General consensus from ChaCo members:
Though ChaCo is supportive of the building of new primary and secondary schools for Chapeltown, this application is not acceptable and we should rally to protest against the proposal. We believe the fairer and right approach for a primary and secondary school is the one we were originally informed of, which was the primary school on the land behind us and the secondary on the other side of Barrack road.
It is essential that everyone in ChaCo objects to this planning application
The closing date for registering objections is 1st June. There are no rights of appeal for third parties who are unhappy with a planning decision. In other words, if the planning decision after the 1st of June is to approve there is nothing we can do.
This document is in place to help us consider relevant points when submitting an objection letter to the planning committee. It is important to emphasize this is just a guide and any points you want to raise that aren’t covered in this document, do raise them in your objection letter.
Our immediate concern is to stop the current plan being approved and we should do all we can in the short timeframe we have available to emphasise our case. There are legitimate concerns with the current plan (ie. privacy, massing ,light reduction, green space, noise, traffic etc) which we need to highlight, however should the first application be refused by the planners, Dixons will take the recommendations into account and submit a second plan. It is very important we anticipate this second plan, it could be similar to the current plan with a few tweaks to reduce overlooking etc, however it could still have a devastating effect on ChaCo.
A good outcome for ChaCo is if Dixons resubmit a design that is more in keeping with their original proposal of having the Primary school on the ChaCo side of Barrack Road and the secondary on the other side of Barrack Road.
It would be useful if we could make this a key narrative of our objections so there is consistency between our objections to this plan and a resubmitted plan that falls short of separating the two schools.
How to register objections
There are two ways detailed by Leeds of commenting on this application
Via the Leeds council public access website
- You will need to register on this website
- Search for application reference 18/02283
- Click make a comment and select object, support or neutral.
- Send letter to- Planning Services, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds, LS2 8HD
- Quote application ref. 18/02283
- Add your comments and include your name and address
Note this method is not documented in the planning website but they do seem to be accepting comments submitted by email.
- Email to: email@example.com
- Subject: 18/02283
- Add your comments in the body of the email including your name and address
Writing your objection letter
It could be useful to break your letter into 3 segments: Opening, Body and Conclusion
- State this letter is an objection to the proposal.
- Code and description of relevant proposal:
18/02283/FU Demolition of vacant depot building; construction of a new primary/secondary school; multi-use game areas (MUGA), sports pitches, hard and soft landscaping, car/cycle parking, alterations to site access; landscaping and boundary treatments | Dixons Trinity Chapeltown Leopold Street Chapeltown Leeds LS7 4AW
- Who you are. If you are a Full Member or Prospective Member of ChaCo it is important that you state this so the council will treat your objection as a local resident.
List your points of objection in order, starting with the strongest first, and explain the reason for each objection. (see below for details)
This could be a suitable place to conclude that squeezing both primary and secondary schools into one site alongside residential properties is not appropriate (not just for ChaCo but the area in general) and a better solution would be to revert to the original plan (with secondary school other side of Barrack Road).
What will the planners consider?
The planners will only consider certain factors when reviewing objections to an application. It would be useful to understand what those factors are and ensure as much as we can what we write is relevant to the planners.
Ie: factors like visual impact, effect on the character of a neighbourhood, possible noise and disturbance, overlooking and loss of privacy. The likely effect of the development on the residential amenity of neighbours is clearly an important consideration. On the other hand, a possibly adverse impact on property values is not a relevant planning consideration, and so there is no point in mentioning it.
In writing a letter of objection to a planning application, the biggest mistake can be making your letter too personal. I totally understand the temptation when you feel so outraged and fearful about the proposal. But you only weaken your case if you include points that bear no relevance to the planning guidelines that planners will weigh the proposal against.
Your objection will have more effect if a number of people write in to object: avoid using a ‘standard’ letter. Objectors should use their own words and write, type or word process their letters themselves. Objections will not carry the same weight if they are seen to have been written or produced in a standardised form.
These guidelines are taken from the Leeds planning website and elaborated with explanations from other areas. Comments have also been added to some of the areas that are specifically relevant to school application and its relevance to Chaco.
These are just general guidelines and each objection is unique. If, having read through this document, you feel there is something relevant not included in this document, do include it in your objection.
It should be noted that any objection to the planning application will be public, including who submitted it. Bear this in mind when filling out objections as we need to ensure we are viewed in a positive light by the community.
What should I comment on?
Design, appearance and layout
Design (including bulk and massing, detailing and materials is nowadays recognised as an important factor in the acceptability of a development proposal. If you think the development looks ugly, then you should say so, especially if it is over-bearing, out-of-scale or out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing development in the vicinity.
Massing. Buildings should be in keeping with the general in bulk /size with its neighbours. Ie. It would be inappropriate to build a 4 storey house in the middle of an estate full of bungalows.
- There will be a single large building with one end next to the end house in ChaCo
- The proposed single building is huge compared to ChaCo.
- Its roof is estimated to be 9m higher than the eaves to the house nearest it
- The building is situated very close to ChaCo
- The school is on higher land than ChaCo.
All these factors contribute to an overbearing building towering over ChaCo. As Justin stated, it would make ChaCo look like toytown in comparison.
The application has the primary school’s playground running alongside the boundary between Chaco and the school. The application states:
Along the southern boundary a 6m wide tree and shrub planting strip is proposed to provide a visual buffer between the new school site and the adjacent new housing site. The ground in this zone also drops significantly to tie into the site boundary level.
The primary school’s playground is easily the noisiest external space in the school. Though no one will argue against a school having a playground, locating it next to the only residential neighbours is inconsiderate.
ChaCo have designed their buildings to form a protection against the traffic noise any noise generated from the playground will have a significant impact on the quality of life in Chaco.
The planners may make allowance for the fact the noise is limited to certain times of the school day. However that is still a significant amount of time, including morning drop-off, morning break, lunch, afternoon break and afternoon pick-up and the resulting noise will have significant impact on the quality of life for those residents.
Without a very thorough sound assessment it is very doubtful installing buffers / soundproofing along the boundaries will be very effective especially considering the playground will be on higher ground than ChaCo. (ie: huge wall needed to be effective).
Impact on highway safety and traffic
Concerns about highway safety may also be raised, but it should be borne in mind that such issues are subject to careful technical examination by qualified engineers employed by the highway authority, and so objections based on road safety fears are unlikely to carry much weight unless it is also the independent view of the Council’s own highway engineers that the development would adversely affect highway safety or the convenience of road users.
Having one main dropping point for both the primary and secondary school, will generate a huge amount of traffic particularly along Leopold street.
A recent meeting of Chapeltown Citizens asked Cllr Rafique to raise school drop-off and traffic issues near Holy Rosary Primary School. This proposal will only exacerbate this concern. The parking survey that justifies the increase in traffic has included parking spaces available that are already used as pick-up/drop-off points by Holy Rosary School.
The transport document provided by Dixon’s is confusing as it bases the requirement on there being 420 pupils where the ACTUAL number of pupils is 980 !!!
Further, the school is split over two sites. Having children frequently having to cross a very busy road (Barrack Road) to get to some of its facilities feels like a very dangerous thing to do.
Note: Staff car parking is going to be on the other side of Barrack Road, so our main concern here is dropping off / picking up.
Privacy and overlooking
This is probably the biggest impact /concern for ChaCo. We have right to privacy, both in our houses and in personal/private outside space (like external seating).
There is extensive overlooking by the 3-storey building situated very close to ChaCo houses. Not only is the building a very high 3-storey building, it is already sitting on elevated land compared to ChaCo. Secondary school pupils and teachers will be able to look directly into resident’s bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms – as well as their front doors and activity in their gardens, including external seating areas. This will have a huge impact on how residents feel and behave, not only in the gardens but inside their houses too. Some people will feel very vulnerable in this situation – including young children.
The planting of trees to provide privacy is not a viable solution to provide immediate/permanent/year-round privacy.
Effect on sunlight
Planners are concerned only with whether a development would lead to an unacceptable loss of light (both sunlight and daylight).
Justin has estimated that in midsummer the shadow from the school will first hit our land (including the growing areas) at 3:00pm and by 7:30pm everything will be in its shadow, whilst the actual sunset at that time of the year would be 10:00pm.
We have had to build a line of houses alongside the southern boundary of our plot of land to reduce the noise and pollution impact of the busy road. This means we have greatly reduced access to light already. Losing afternoon light too due to the school would have a huge impact on us.
Should we have to place large fences and trees along the boundary to give us privacy, this could further affect our deprivation of sun.
What about view?
Although you do not have a right to a view over someone else’s land, if we think an application is unreasonable because of the effect on your outlook, we will try to negotiate changes to help overcome this.
Outlook must be distinguished from a view. Where one or more window looks out into some space, building something in front of it, i.e. removing that outlook, can be considered unacceptable.
Currently our outlook from ChacCo windows to the north / northwest would be some houses and industrial builds, but mainly a fair amount of space and sky. Putting a the huge school building will massively affect our outlook. Having to put up raised fences and trees may help with privacy and noise but will affect outlook too.
Effect on trees and the landscape
Dixons have got 2 sites to work across. One on each side of Barrack Road. Only the north side of Barrack Road has adjacent residential areas and is on view to the people who live locally. The south side is away from residents, so any green space is essentially lost as view to residents and any access to amenities (playing field) is not so accessible to local community.
The plan has got virtually ALL the green space of the south side of Barrack Road where it is of no visual and limited accessible benefit to the local community and the main building is crammed into one site that is very visible to residents. The existing green space that is viewable (and previously accessible) to local community will be reduced with this plan.
Chapeltown is a densely populated inner city urban area: any green space viewable to local residents is a vital commodity for well-being. Any planning considerations must look at providing any green space in an area that will benefit the local community – not hidden away as the current proposal does.
Other areas planners will consider
- conservation of buildings and conservation of the natural environment
- effect on neighbouring properties
- what the building or development will look like
- previous planning applications
- National Planning Policy Framework, Development Plan Policies
- Supplementary Planning Guidance and other planning policies
- government guidance and legislation
- effect on the character of an area
- effect on living conditions
Other considerations that MAY be worth mentioning
- 1,000 people + ChaCo housing + unity sheltered housing + General practice all in a very condensed space, yet lots of open spaces on the site over the road with no residents around it
- Having Primary and Secondary school together in same building is very intimidating for very you children. More preferable to keep in separate sites/buildings (see Roundhay “all through” school with primary school a mile away from secondary)
- Community engagement by Dixons very poor. Wouldn’t have been difficult to get someone from ChaCo there. ChaCo have themselves initiated a meeting with school to look at how they could work together for the benefit of the community
- ChaCo is a very innovative & unique project with community, affordability, sustainability and ecology at its core. It would be a great asset to Chapeltown. The plan as it stands is a very big threat to Chaco’s existence.
- Driver for one building plan seems to be costs, a through school structure can still be maintained across separate buildings/sites (see Roundhay). It feels very wrong that just because the school is in a poor area like Chapeltown corners are cut that are not considered in other areas (Roundhay).
- Unity Housing Association is providing sheltered housing for elderly people. Funnelling ALL the school children past Unity, ChaCo and local residents is being very inconsiderate to the local community.
What will not be considered?
This will vary with each application but the following are not usually valid planning matters and cannot be taken into account:
- issues covered by other legislation, such as Licensing, Building Control, or Health and Safety
- private property rights, such as boundary or access disputes
- the developer’s morals, motivation, or activities elsewhere
- perceived impact on property values
- Competition between businesses
Dixons Trinity Academy’s proposals for their new schools in Chapeltown are seriously flawed. We need these schools, but just because this is Chapeltown doesn’t mean they can be built on the cheap without regard to the needs of the local community. If ChaCo members, supporters and local residents work together, we can kick up enough fuss to ensure that the current plans get rejected in favour of a much better solution.
Read on for a step by step guide to how you can help…
Would you want to send your 4 year old here?
This is all about people power. The more people who take part in these actions, the greater our chances of getting the schools that Chapeltown kids deserve.
Register your objection to these plans
The planners at Leeds City Council want to know what local people think about these proposals – but you have to comment before 1 June. Here’s how to do it.
- It’s a good idea to compose your comments in a separate file because:
- the online comments page will time-out after 50 minutes
- you’ll have a copy of your comments that you can send to your local Councillor.
- All the background info is on this page and there are more tips here. But don’t copy and paste! Decide what matters to you, and then use your own words. Don’t slag off Dixons: stick to what’s wrong with their plans. It doesn’t have to be long – just one or two points will do. If you’re going (or hoping) to live at ChaCo, tell them.
- Once you’ve composed your objection and read it through again, save the file. You then have three ways of getting it to the Planners:
- Using their online portal. You’ll need to register so they know who you are. Then copy and paste the text from your file into the comments box and send it off.
- By post to Planning Services, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, Leeds, LS2 8HD. Make sure you include your name and address and the Application Number: 18/02283.
- By email to firstname.lastname@example.org – make sure you include your name and address, and for the Subject put Application Number: 18/02283.
Send your local Councillors a copy of your objection
Ask them what they plan to do about it. They’ll be wanting you to vote for them in future, so they’ve got a vested interest in keeping you happy! The Chapel Allerton Ward Councillors are:
Spread the word!
The more people who know about these plans, the better. Tell all your friends and ask them to support us – particularly if they live in the area.
And if you’re a member or supporter of ChaCo, we need help chatting to people in the streets nearest to where the school’s going to be, and encouraging them to sign our petition. Get in touch with email@example.com if you’d like to help with this.
The proposed new Dixons Trinity Chapeltown Academy on Leopold Street plans to squeeze a 420-pupil primary school and a 560-pupil secondary school into one massive 3-storey building. So how will these 980 pupils travel to school?
The “Design and Access Statement”
An overview of Willmott Dixon’s proposals – the Design and Access Statement – can be downloaded here.
In Section 5.1 of this document it states:
There will be no parent vehicle drop-off permitted onsite.
…in other words, they’re expecting/hoping the local streets will be able to cope with the inevitable increased traffic twice a day.
The “Transport Statement”
Willmott Dixon have also prepared a Transport Statement.
This document includes findings of a parking survey in local streets – which concludes:
4.11 The parking survey shows that there is capacity in the vicinity of the proposed development for school drop offs to be accommodated on the existing highway network. In the morning, there are 201 spaces available within the surveyed area and in the afternoon, there are 228 spaces within the surveyed area.
The image above is based on the map on p58 showing where they’ve found these spaces:
- Leopold Street
- Hamilton Gardens
- Hamilton Place
- Harriet Street
- Dodgson Avenue
- Frankland Place (but not ChaCo’s access road)
- Leopold Gardens
- Chapeltown Children’s Centre
They’ve included the whole of Leopold Street, including the drop-off/pick-up area for Holy Rosary & St Anne’s Primary!
They then go on to estimate the likely number of pupils coming by different modes of transport:
7.6 In order to understand the modal split for different travel modes for journeys to and from school by pupils, data has been sourced from the LCC Sustainable
Education Strategy for Schools and Colleges 2017-2021, as summarised in Table 7.2.
This includes for both primary and secondary pupils and does not separate the two.
They’ve made a major error here: Table 7.2 on page 30 shows the total number of pupils (for both primary and secondary) as 420 instead of the actual figure of 980!
So if we accept their prediction of 25.8% of all pupils traveling by car, that’s not 105 (as they claim), but 253. This error invalidates much of their subsequent argument.
Twice a day there are likely to be 250 extra drivers on Leopold Street looking for somewhere to park to pick-up or drop-off children at the school. And Willmott Dixon’s own transport consultants have demonstrated that even if every available parking space in all those seven streets is used, that would still be insufficient.
Dixons will point out, of course, that their start and finish times are staggered, which will indeed help to ease the situation a bit.
The Transport Statement already acknowledges that:
6.19 It is clear from several site visits that there is a heavy incidence of car parking at the east end of Leopold St which generally takes place from early morning through to early evening.
However, they make no mention of the following:
- Many of the road users and pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the school are likely to be particularly vulnerable – the elderly people in the new Unity Housing Association flats at the end of Frankland Place, and people visiting the Health Centre and Children’s Centre.
- There are already significant drop-off/pick-up traffic and parking issues reported by Holy Rosary and St Anne’s Primary School at the other end of Leopold Street – which will not only be exacerbated by the increased traffic, but may also effectively remove some of the “available” parking spaces in Leopold Street.
- Spencer Place is often very congested and when cars are parked on both sides of the road, it effectively becomes “single lane with passing places”.
- On Fridays, traffic and parking problems on Spencer Place and in the vicinity of the Islamic Centre tend to increase around the times of “Friday Prayers”.
- Air pollution is already high in the area. A recent test on the corner of Barrack Road and Roundhay Road indicated NOx levels 10% above the legal maximum. Traffic needs to be reduced, particularly near the Health Centre, Children’s Centre, the older people’s flats and the school itself.
- In order for ChaCo to be granted planning permission, we had to demonstrate that our development would accommodate all associated parking on-site, with no overspill onto Leopold Street or surrounding streets. We think it only fair that a similar condition be imposed on Dixons Trinity Chapeltown.
Willmott Dixon need to amend their proposals to ensure that there is no negative impact on local residents or on staff and visitors to the Health Centre, Children’s Centre or their own school due to increases in:
- parking problems
- road traffic accidents
You can find full details of the school’s planning application, including other people’s comments, here.
Anyone can comment on these proposals – especially if they live nearby – but you must do so by 1 June. There’s more info here on how to comment, but remember that you’ll need to give your name and address and quote the planning reference, which is 18/02283.
“I’ve supported Chapeltown Cohousing over the last eight years as they’ve worked against the odds on their innovative community housing project. I’m not going to stand by and let all their hard work be undermined by these ill-conceived plans for a school building that’s utterly disproportionate for this residential area. We need more schools here but, for goodness’ sake, let’s do it right!”
Fabian Hamilton MP, Leeds North East
When Leeds City Council gave us an exclusivity agreement in December 2016 to purchase the land for our new homes, we were told that our next door neighbour to the northwest would be a 2-form entry primary school for 420 children.
Dixons Trinity Academy Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd have instead submitted a planning application for a MASSIVE 3-storey, 980-pupil through-school which would have a significant negative impact on ChaCo.
We recognise that Chapeltown needs more school places, and a secondary school is long overdue. But
Dixons the ESFA have purchased enough land to be able to site these schools in a way that is more considerate to local residents and without adding to existing traffic and parking problems in the area.
We ask all our supporters and other local residents who are affected to join us in challenging the worst aspects of these proposals.
The images above show some of our ChaCo homes on Barrack Road and how the proposed school dominates our site.
Before getting into the details of our objections, who should we point the finger at? The schools will be run by Dixons Trinity Chapeltown – but the two headteachers say it’s unfair to tarnish the good reputation of their schools by referring to “Dixons” when they have had no say on the location or design of the school.
Yes, but… they and their employers seem insistent on having both primary and secondary schools in one building – which is at the root of most of our objections. Also, from the Design and Access Statement:
4.6.1 Massing & Material Development
Initial proposals for the massing and elevations of the building were developed based on Dixon Trinity Academy’s desire that the building should ‘stand out’, that it should be a catalyst for regeneration and change.
Has anyone in the local community expressed a desire for a ‘stand-out’ building? And anyway, does a very, very big shoebox really qualify?
At present, it looks like the responsibility for the current proposals is shared between Dixons Trinity Academy, Willmott Dixon (the construction company who prepared the plans and will be wanting to minimise their costs and maximise their profits), and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (who don’t seem to want to allocate enough money to do the job properly).
Meanwhile, please understand that we’re not blaming the teaching staff, who appear to be doing a great job under difficult circumstances.
Issues affecting ChaCo
Overbearing appearance – a huge building, dwarfing and encroaching on the ChaCo houses and set on higher land so that it towers 9m above the eaves level of the nearest ChaCo home.
Loss of privacy – the height, proximity and elevated position of the building mean that our homes and gardens will be overlooked by the first and second floor windows of the school.
Loss of evening sunlight – the same set of factors mean that our shared garden will be largely in shadow on summer evenings. Our food-growing area will be the most affected.
Noise – this was always going to be an issue, even with the original 420-pupil primary school. This proposal is for a 980-pupil school. We feel it’s particularly inconsiderate to place the playground right next to the only residential properties where it will cause maximum impact.
Issues affecting local residents (including ChaCo)
Increased traffic – The Transport Statement indicates that there will be around 250 drivers picking up and dropping off children twice a day, and that there is insufficient parking capacity in local streets (below) to be able to cope with this. Despite the existing parking issues at the east end of Leopold Street and the drop-off/pick-up problems already experienced by Holy Rosary Primary School at the other end, the current proposals make no on-site provision to ease the situation. Read more about the traffic issues.
Loss of green space – before the temporary primary school for Dixons was built on the Leopold Street playing fields, this extensive green space was available free of charge to local schools and community groups – including ChaCo, who have used it on several occasions. Originally, Willmott Dixon promised that they would reinstate the playing field once the new primary school was built. Now, however, they are planning to use a third of it for their traffic loop. They are proposing to compensate for this by adding a new multi-use games area in a non-residential area the other side of the A58 Barrack Road. There is already a MUGA on that site, and this provision just does not address the real needs of families in Chapeltown (including ours). Young children like swings, slides, climbing frames etc and grass to run around on – preferably without having to cross a dangerous main road to get there. Furthermore, Dixons say they are planning to charge community groups for access to the much-reduced green space.
Even fenced off, the Leopold Street playing fields add so much to the feel of our neighbourhood. They need protecting and opening up so that all local residents can enjoy them.
Unpopular educational environment – many local parents of primary age children would much prefer the primary and secondary schools to be separate anyway. School can be scary enough for 4 yr olds without having to cope with nearly 1,000 other children up to age 16 in the same building. An attractive low structure with no more than 420 primary age children is likely to be far less daunting than a massive 3-storey block squeezed onto a site that’s far too small.
What’s the solution?
Leeds City Council has a statutory obligation to provide enough school places, so we’re not going to be able to stop these schools being built – and that’s never been our intention. Instead, we want them designed in a way that takes account of the needs of the local community rather than seeing us as collateral damage.
It’s not our job to design Dixons’ schools for them, but many of us in ChaCo think it’s ridiculous to try and cut costs by cramming both schools onto such a tight site when they’ve already bought a much bigger site on the other side of Barrack Road. We will be campaigning for Wilmott Dixon to revert to their original plan of putting the primary school in the residential area (alongside ChaCo) and the secondary school on the other site. This would remove most of our objections at a stroke, and avoid adding to the existing traffic, parking, pollution and road safety problems on residential streets.
You can comment on the planning application using the links in the sidebar. Or – if you’re a Chapeltown resident – you could email one of our local Councillors (below) – but don’t delay: we only have until 1 June to have our say.
There’s a detailed step by step guide on how to take action on this page.
On 29 Dec 2017, at 14:04, Peter Richardson wrote:
Dear full member,
We’ve said that when you become a member you get allocated a house but haven’t specified exactly which one. We’ve also linked signing the pre-sales agreement with allocation of an actual house. But before we get to the point of prioritising, it might work if we all just say what we want. If not, then we’ll have to invoke our (maybe slightly unformed) procedures.
So which plot do you actually want?
Allocations so far
Please note that we originally managed to get some of the door numbers in the wrong order – so if you’re in a duplex or a 1-bed flat, the number showing in the table below may be 1 more or less than what you agreed with Pete.
The problem arose because (as Maja pointed out) some of the blocks are mirror images of the one next door, so sometimes the door to the ground floor flat is on the left and sometimes it’s on the right.
I think we’ve now got the order right – and you should still be in the apropriate size unit in the block that you agreed. If not, tell Bill asap!
|Door No.||House type||Schedule||Allocated to|
|27||2-bed over CH||27||Ryan|
|28||2-bed over CH||28||Armitage|
|29||2-bed over CH||29|
28/5/15 (or 26?)
I’ve been asked to gather together (a) a list of “holes” in our processes and policies relating to allocations and (b) relevant resources and decisions. Bill
I’ll add things to this document as I find them, so it’s another work in progress. Worth checking back here from time to time while our discussions are ongoing.
Probably best to keep comments in one place, back on the main page.
The nine items listed back on the main page represent “holes” (unanswered questions) in our current process. But are there more?
The recent email thread on “number of beds per household” highlighted a few more:
10. Are full members guaranteed their first preference?
11. Do we give priority to full members if their circumstances change?
12. Do existing residents who want to move take priority over people on the waitng list?
13. When a child reaches 18, but doesn’t want to become a full member (or ChaCo really doesn’t think they’re ready to take on the responsibilities of full membership), what’s their status? From Minutes 13.9.17:
-Do children in households who are turning 18 and partners joining households need to become members? Yes we would expect this, but if there is a difficulty it could be referred to Needs and Wants who will look at the specific situation. But are members individuals or households? This isn’t currently clear and should be clarified.
Action: Welcome and Membership to look at this in more detail.
14. There are lots of loose ends and inconsistencies in our Membership Policy – which I’ve annotated here.
15. Question from Minutes 13.9.17 – does Chaco allow people to run businesses from their home?
Not in any particular order, but numbered for ease of reference.
- The Financial Model that Nikolai and Maeve use is here.
- There’s also an earlier attempt to summarise things in this Allocations Procedure document (with flow chart).
- The original ethnicity proposal is here. The meeting changed the LGBT+ target to 15%, like most of the others.
- Someone asked me recently if there were any spaces left and I thought this was a prime candidate for one of our FAQs. Here’s my first attempt at an answer. We’ve always said that PMs should have up to date info on the allocations situation. Would this sort of thing help? This is a dumb (manually produced) version, but could be very easily linked to the database to keep it up to date.
- Maeve’s Prospective Member Involvement Form
- The Households Table – which gathers all the allocations data into one place and allows easy exploration of different scenarios. Keeps track of the scores mentioned in the Allocations Procedure.
Most of the early decisions we made are summarised in our Membership Policy.
1. Membership- to become a full member need to resubmit form, be committed to ethos, give funding ( can be different ways of paying) and are guaranteed a place, if it goes ahead. It’s helpful to have a 6 month review, is it working for you and members? Agree roles and any specific needs.
• Unanimous Decision: to accept Hannah and Burj into full membership (even though we recognise that we haven’t got all the systems in place. Full members have also been asked.
• Our full members policy is written for when we are at the stage of having land and housing complete. We are not at this stage so some of it doesn’t make sense (e.g. committing to buying when the design and price have not been finalised).
• We therefore need a “as we are now” version of how to join.
• Would include phrase about “formal commitment” and would involve becoming a legal member of the cooperative
• Would include expectation of commitment and support with time/finance where appropriate
• Would include contribution to task group
• Would give a “first refusal option” on houses.
• Agreed that members contribution should be expected to be by standing order with the option of a lump sum, rather than the other way around.
• Action: Pete to draft an ‘as of now’ version
o We will reserve a certain number of remaining units for young people/ people with children and people who increase our ethnic diversity. Membership group to work out what we need to reserve.
3. Membership and Unit Allocations procedures:
Because of the late time, we just introduced the question. Currently the ethnic mix of all members, PMs and interested people by household is 60% white, 17% African-Caribbean, 23% other BME (households in which one member is BME are counted as BME).
Questions we need to consider for a later meeting:
1. are we happy with what we are currently doing which has resulted in the current ethnic mix?
2. should we be doing something else?
Three options (at least) to consider in a later meeting for deciding how units get allocated/reserved now that there are more PMs and people wanting to become PMs than unallocated units available:
1. First-in first-served: accepting more PMs than unallocated units, whoever gets to FM first gets the units;
2. Selective / competitive: accepting more PMs than unallocated units, then allocating according to as yet unspecified criteria;
3. A waiting list or pool. PM applications are considered only if there are appropriate units available.
NB: Not quorate!
b. Future allocation priorities. Kate mentioned that although starting in the shared house she may well want to move into a flat at a later stage. We discussed this and felt it was right that people in the shared house generally have priority if other units become available. We need to make sure people on the waiting list know this. We probably need to talk about this as a larger group.
c. We noted that we do not have enough units available for all the prospective members and people interested in joining. In particular we have too many people wanting 2-bed units. We felt that we should not be taking on perspective members if there are not units available for them and we need to be clear with people about waiting lists. We noted that there may be considerations we want to take into account when putting people forward for prospective members, particularly around diversity and connection to Chapeltown. Action: Yael and Bill to look carefully at the current list to see where we are up to.
a. There are a disproportionate number of white people as full and prospective members of Chaco. Diversity is one our 6 guiding principles and we are wanting to ensure ChaCo is reflective of the population of Chapeltown. There is an idea for discussion about setting an aim regarding ethnicity in a similar way to how we have an aim regarding variety of ages. We have also talked about the need to be clearer on what being a prospective member means and how the procedure for allocating units should work.
Given the current situation should we therefore do one of the following?
– Put a hold on new applications from white people until we have decided our aim
– Put a hold on all new applications until we have decided our aim
Pete had prepared a barchart showing ethnic representation within our current Full and Prospective Member households:
– White: 17 (households with at least one person in this category)
– African-Caribbean: 1
– Asian: 2
– Other: 1
By contrast, in the immediate vicinity of ChaCo, just 16% of the population is white.
An occasionally heated discussion followed, cut short because there was insufficient time to be able to reach a decision about putting new applications on hold. Straw polls indicated no clear preference for action. However, there seemed to be general agreement that ChaCo should act as soon as possible to increase the proportion of ethnic minority households. Also that we need to be very clear with PMs that availability of spaces will be affected by our various allocation targets. No guarantee that there will be a place.
We ran out of time to consider the current batch of membership applications, so these are effectively on hold at least until the next meeting.
Action: next agenda has to have ethnic mix and allocations procedure as an early item. If we reach a consensus on these issues, we can then consider membership applications. Otherwise, we will first need to resolve the issue about putting applications on hold. Bill already written discussion documents and draft proposals that will be circulated well before the next meeting. Everyone please email any comments to the group and, if possible, get together and discuss with others before the next meeting.
3. Membership – based on two attached documents (ethnicity and allocations procedure)
1. That we amend the Allocations Policy (using the four broad ethnic groups: “African-Caribbean”, “Asian”, “Other BME”, and “White”) as follows:
We will aim to have:
• 15% (minimum) of households with at least one member from the “African-Caribbean” group
• 15% (minimum) of households with at least one member from the “Asian” group
• 15% (minimum) of households with at least one member from the “Other BME” group
• 15% (minimum) of households with at least one member from the “White” group.
• For the other 40% we do not take ethnicity into account.
Decision: The above mix was agreed. However, we would hope that we would not end up with one group being dominant (55%!). We would also hope to increase these percentage targets in the future.
2. That we amend the Allocations Policy to include a specific target for the LGBT+ group:
Decision: 15% (minimum) of households will have at least one member from the “LGTB+” group.
(FLOWCHART FROM ALLOCATIONS POLICY HERE)
Decision: We would not accept a full member if by accepting them it would make it impossible to realistically meet one of our targets.
Note: We need to come back to allocations policy to explain it a bit more so it is clear; the fundamentals are all right though.
. Welcome and Membership
o Prospective Membership applications, updated the form to include agreed allocations. Also created a survey to be sent to existing members, so we have the relevant information.
There is a rough guide to buddying in Dropbox.
Proposal: have a timeline for processing, and process a batch at a time. Prioritise according to the batch. Pete offered to help Yael with this.
New prospective members. Need to be clear that PM doesn’t guarantee a place. Only take on slightly more people than we have places for. Some people might become PM and then decide they don’t want to be involved, or things change in their lives.
a. AGREED that for prospective member applications
1. Should not need a full discussion about whether or not to accept as the idea is that there is a 6 month (or 4 month) period to get to know them. Welcome and Membership can make recommendation then we could read out applications for all members to decide.
2. We will have to make sure we are not overwhelmed by taking on too many
3. Take prospective members applications in batches every 3 months.
b. Full member applications (proposal for discussion / decision)
1. Agreed – to take applications in batches every 3 months starting in January if possible.
2. Agreed – if the applicant has not been involved with ChaCo then their application will be postponed to the next intake. This will have to be a judgement of the full members. Would expect them to have been involved with the following (or to have negotiated an individual involvement plan with Needs and Wants):
i. members meetings
ii. task groups
iii. shared meals
iv. other activities (socials/workshops/meeting up with buddy and other ChaCo members)
v. and to have read the consensus decision making information
vi. and to have paid their prospective membership fee
3. Agreed – That 4 months will be the new expected minimum length of involvement
4. Discussed – prioritisation.
• Reminded ourselves that membership criterion includes commitment to core principles and that targets are aspirational and at some point we will have to put them aside if necessary in order to complete the build.
• Discussed how new members need to be people who are “co-operative” and communal.
• Lilac have saying “good enough for now, safe enough to try”
• Felt that the general approach to prioritisation seemed right but wanted some clear examples of how it would work in practice (or a clear flow chart).
• Discussed if we can take new member now or have to wait until this is sorted.
• Agreed – to produce clear examples and bring to the next meeting.
• Agreed – that full-members could take on new members now if it was “obvious” that the new member helped us reach our unmet targets and didn’t block.
5. Discussed – how do we make sure that taking on new members does not prevent us from reasonably being able to reach our overall allocations targets. Suggested that there may be times when full-members have to use their judgement as this might not be possible to do “scientifically.”
Yael and Pete have been looking at figures and processes for taking on PMs and FMs. This is a complex issue. Bill said that there are still enough places to cater for all likely PMs and FMs but that the quotas will need to be satisfied. ChaCo aims to be transparent in its membership and to let people know re likelihood of places. Sadie wondered if we could get programming help to assist with the complexity of allocation of places.
Issues re membership: Jenny pointed out that we need to focus on building a community of ChaCo members. Bill said this needs as much attention as the building of the houses.
Yael wondered if we need to postpone acceptance of FMs until October.
Decisions: We decided that postponing take-up of FMs until April would help equalise the quotas.
We could review this in April.
8. Proposal about membership applications.
We agreed to hold back considering new PMs unless they help us achieve our
ethnicity targets. Situation to be reviewed after the next set of Full Members
have been decided (April/May).
3. Prospective members left. Full members agreed to adopt Option 2 (see below) as our new financial model, with these amendments:
a) Full members who cannot afford the new full rent should be referred to the Needs and Wants group (this probably only affects 1 household). We don’t want rents to rise above LHA level, so any subsidy would need to be via the income-related Common House Charge.
b) We hold Option 1 (existing) as an ambition. Once we have the prices from the contractors, we will aim aim to reduce rents to original “Affordable” levels by cutting costs where possible, consistent with our values.
c) We will have individual conversations with prospective members to assess the impact of Option 2, but are unable to offer any subsidy.
d) We will now offer the units left as in Option 2, (keeping our membership process) and start a waiting list for any prospective households we are unable to accommodate.
Option 2 – Increasing rents to afford £5,000,000 development costs
• Rents increase by 25% subject to cap at LHA, which means they could be fully paid by housing benefit
• Allocations work the same as Option 1 – so again we can probably accommodate all current full and prospective members as long as they can afford the increased rent.
• Use increased rents to fund additional borrowing – feasible but more expensive.
8. Welcome and Membership
8.1 Report – there was no time to present this.
8.2 Recruitment Strategy
Yael and Maeve presented the proposal to either shorten the prospective membership approval from 4 to 2 months or to extend the current October deadline for allocations to be confirmed. Concerns raised that 2 months would be too short. Suggestion that we could provide more opportunities to get to know each other over less time. Rather than time, membership could rely on number of interactions, attendance at consensus training, members meetings, task group.
Decision made to extend the deadline for allocations and continue with 4 months but with a sense of urgency and clarity about what people must do before they can become prospective members. 22nd July – social for new members, current members should come along to meet people.
Yael and Maeve proposed that until we become financially viable we prioritise buyers of a higher percentage before other allocations targets. Active consent.
Proposal: Give all full members access to the households table on the member’s area of the ChaCo website.
• Table with tick boxes allows full members to see to what extent we meet our financial and diversity targets depending on which households are part of Chaco. Also, a useful record of who is a member/prospective members and their details. Useful for buddies who want to let their buddees know information about what is available. NB: No permanent changes are made when households are selected or deselected via the tick boxes. This is simply a tool to explore how different households help us meet all the different constraints.
• Pointed out that if all members are to have access to it, it should be ensured that it is accessible to everyone and that they can easily use it.
• No objections, no reservations, no stand asides.
• Bill and Riley able to support other members to use table. Please contact them for assistance. Mary K suggested she may need assistance, Bill to help.
8.1 Making our recruitment and allocations process as fair as we can
We agreed that
1. The Welcome and Membership Group should alert the Full Members about who is next eligible to apply for Full Membership. If any members have concerns or reservations about the application, they should express these to the Welcome and Membership Group & Buddy before the meeting at which the application is considered. If necessary, the applicant will be forewarned that there are concerns.
2. When considering a Full Membership application, the question to be answered is
‘How shall we respond to this application?’
(This gives more flexibility in our response than a simple In or Out answer.)
Although not formally adopted, the following suggestions were made
– It is the responsibility of Full Members to get to know Prospective Members.
– Primarily, we are looking for members who are enthusiastic about working out our core values. Because these are open to a breadth of interpretation, we also take into account gut feelings of existing Full Members.
– We need to be able to say NO when required.
– We need to balance carefully the needs of the group with the needs of an individual, as part of future-proofing ChaCo.
5. Prospective Member applications.
There can be reasons to say no if people have expectations that can’t be met (eg they need a 4 bed house and we already have a waiting list for 4 beds) Also we need to balance renting/ buying and diversity targets. A question was raised about whether Chaco’s long term goal is to increase, reduce or keep the same the level of rented properties. If there is a clear position then this needs to be clear to new prospective members.
Question from Riley: Are there enough full members to provide buddies for prospective applicants? Maybe this should inform how open we are to accepting applications for prospective membership from people who are unlikely to end up living in ChaCo.
Bill: If possible it would be preferable to treat this batch of prospective applicants the same as previous applicants, and not start creating new rules.
The group seems to agree with the suggestion, although the point was made repeatedly to ensure to make this clear to the prospective members.
We need to revisit the question of what to do with people who apply for properties that aren’t available. This will be revisited later on in this meeting.
6. Allocations process
These notes were available at the meeting but not sent out beforehand:
Introduction to Item 6: Allocations process
In a few months’ time we’ll need to know that we’ll have enough money to start the build. We’ll need to know that we’re going to get at least £1.6m from sales to shared owners. But the only people who can sign the legally binding commitments we need are Full Members (FMs) – not Prospective Members (PMs).
However, not all PMs make it through to become FMs. Some decide that ChaCo is not for them, some realise they can’t afford the rent or raise enough capital, some just don’t get involved, and some don’t manage to persuade the FMs that they’d cope well with community life.
That’s why we’ve been accepting more PMs than we’ve got spaces for – knowing that a percentage won’t make it through. But this is awkward for all of us, building relationships with people who may or may not be our future neighbours. And it’s particularly problematic for PMs, who are expected to throw themselves into the life and work of ChaCo without knowing if there’ll be a place for them at the end of the process. (See table above.)
So how does a PM evaluate their chances of getting a place? There are so many factors to take into account, including:
• the current availability of their preferred type of accommodation
• ChaCo’s need to bring in enough capital to make the project viable (including paying for the construction of the fully rented units and common house)
• ChaCo’s allocation targets relating to: Chapeltown connection, age, income, (dis)ability, ethnicity, etc
• commitment to the project
• the current availability of car parking spaces
PMs need to know that there’s a fair (and transparent?) system for allocating their position in the queue for their preferred type of accommodation. In principle, it would be perfectly feasible to provide a page on the website where PMs could monitor their current position in the queue. However, first we would need to set up a working group to propose the precise set of rules to be coded. This would need people from the Welcome & Membership, Finance, and Process task groups, together with several PMs (as they are the ones most directly affected by this).
Pete suggested that we firm up and develop the allocations process.
Bill suggested that we put together a task group to finalise the work on the allocations process and look into filling in any holes, and making it crystal clear. Then it can be shared with prospective members and they will have a clearer idea of their chances to actually end up getting allocated a unit.
Task group can develop proposals that can be discussed in a meeting.
Example of a hole: a couple of meetings ago we decided that until we were financially viable we would prioritise prospective members who could bring in finance over other prospective members. We didn’t define what we meant by financially viable, what we mean by giving priority (ignore everything except finance?), or what kind of finance we meant (having the money in the bank?).
Bill recommended that prospective members get allocated order of priority according to how well they meet our stated requirements and for that to be made public on the website so that people know where they stand.
There was some concern that this would be difficult, and people might get their hopes up if they are high on the list but not end up getting a place. Criteria might also change in the future.
General support for clarifying the criteria and making them public, but not enough support for getting a number for place in the queue.
Alex pointed out that the points for attendance system might not be a precise process. Some members don’t feel comfortable with such a points system. Pete explained that we are just looking for a minimum level of involvement rather than keeping exact track of points and prioritising people who have come to more ChaCo meetings/socials etc.
Robin clarified that it’s the buddy’s responsibility to keep track of how involved prospective members are with ChaCo.
Bill wants to improve communications and make the process less stressful for prospective members.
General approval for making a task group to clarify membership prioritisation criteria.
Alex and Thomas expressed an interest to be involved with the task group.
Sorry! This has now moved to here.