More on allocations

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.

  1. The Financial Model that Nikolai and Maeve use is here.
  2. There’s also an earlier attempt to summarise things in this Allocations Procedure document (with flow chart).
  3. The original ethnicity proposal is here. The meeting changed the LGBT+ target to 15%, like most of the others.
  4. 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.
  5. Maeve’s Prospective Member Involvement Form
  6. 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.


Membership Policy

Most of the early decisions we made are summarised in our Membership Policy.

Minutes 14.1.16

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.

Minutes 28.1.16

4. Membership
• 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

Minutes 12.5.16

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.

Minutes 11.8.16

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.
4. Other?

Minutes 8.9.16

NB: Not quorate!
1. Membership
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.

Minutes 21.9.16

4. Membership
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.

Minutes 14.10.16

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.


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.

Minutes 9.11.16

. 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.

Minutes 9.12.16

2. Membership
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.”

Minutes 11.1.17

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.

Minutes 10.2.17

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).

Minutes 7.4.17

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.

Minutes 13.7.17

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.

Minutes 11.8.17

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.

Minutes 13.9.17

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.

Minutes 13.10.17

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.

<< Back to main Allocations Process page

Review of rents and selling prices

Sorry! This has now moved to here.

Are there any places left?

annotated view of ChaCo

There’s no quick answer to this question! Altogether we’re building 29 new homes plus the all-imporant common space. Some of the spaces have already been allocated to the Full Members of ChaCo. We also have a number of Prospective Members interested in the remaining spaces. It works like this…

If you think you’d like to live in this exciting new community-led housing development, you need to become a member of Chapeltown Cohousing Ltd – our housing cooperative. This applies to every adult living at ChaCo, and joining up usually takes at least 6 months: time for us to get to know each other and time for you to get stuck in to the life and work of the community.

ChaCo Prospective Members (PMs) are people who have said they’d like to spend time getting to know us in order to find out if ChaCo is for them. Applying for Prospective Membership is fairly easy, provided we think there’s a reasonable chance that there’ll be a suitable unit available when the time comes – but there’s no guarantee that this will be the case.

After 6 months of eating and chatting at social events, decision-making at Members’ Meetings, and working in small groups to help make ChaCo happen, a Prospective Member can then apply for Full Membership. If the existing ChaCo members feel the applicant would fit well in the community and be able to meet the necessary financial commitment, the PM then becomes an FM and is allocated one of the remaining units.

Inevitably, of course, some PMs decide that ChaCo is not for them – or maybe their circumstances change. So in order to make sure that we’ll have enough Full Member households by the time we need to start building, we take on a few more PMs than we have accommodation for, and hope that we end up with about the right number of households at the end of the process. It’s not an ideal solution, and we realise that the uncertainty for PMs can be challenging, to say the least.

Current availability of accommodation

The final column shows the number of currently unallocated spaces. Figures in red indicate oversubscribed units. FM = Full Member, PM = Prospective Member.

Housing type Quantity Allocated to FMs Wanted by PMs Availability
1 room in shared house of 5 5 1 0 4
1-bed flat 8 5 2 1
2-bed small duplex 3 2 0 1
2-bed large duplex 4 4 0 0
3-bed duplex 4 0 4 0
3-bed house 4 4 0 0
4-bed house 5 2 4 -1
TOTALS 33 places 18 FM households 10 PM households  

There are a number of factors that might affect someone’s chances of getting a place, 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
  • (for car owners) the current availability of car parking spaces

Getting to know us

Emlyn and Chris recently signed up as Prospective Members of ChaCo. More >>

Introducing Chapeltown Cohousing

Pre-application form

Support our planning application

Our planning application has now been submitted and members of the public have until Friday 9th June Tuesday 4th July 2017 to submit their comments. If you’d like to support our application – particularly if you live in Chapeltown – you can do this on the Leeds City Council website.

You can find out more about how to comment by visiting this page, which lists “valid planning matters” that you can comment on. If you’re keen to support us, the most relevant items on the list might be:

  • conservation of the natural environment – we’re creating a quiet shared garden, and will be encouraging wildlife to visit.
  • effect on trees and the landscape – we’re preserving as many existing trees as possible and planting many new ones. We’re also keen to work with other local groups to encourage food growing in the area, with plenty of fruit trees and raised beds in the public realm.
  • design, appearance and layout – the use of brick and the terrace will form an appropriate southern boundary to Chapeltown. The site layout provides a quick and attractive pedestrian route from the bus stop on Roundhay Road through the site into the rest of Chapeltown.
  • effect on the character of an area – one of our aims is to integrate well with the neighbourhood and to look for ways in which we can enhance the surrounding area. We’ll have many shared resources in our commonhouse, and will be open to sharing these with others from time to time.
  • impact on highway safety and traffic – we’re a low-carbon development with a preference for walking and cycling where possible. Comparatively few of the ChaCo residents own cars, but many will be part of a car-sharing club.
  • effect on neighbouring properties – a stable, diverse and outward-looking community is likely to have a positive effect on social cohesion in the area.

You might want to make some of these points – but in your own words, please.

To comment, visit this page, click the “Comments” tab and register your name etc. Then just say whatever is important to you. Thanks!

Correspondence with Medoria Solar

I know someone who runs a solar energy company, so I sent him a letter…

On 6 May 2017 at 13:32, Bill Phelps wrote:

Philip, hi

I hope business is going well.

We’re currently investigating renewables options for ChaCo – and our energy consultants have said:

6.1 Photovoltaic Panels
Orientating as much roof space as is practical towards a Southerly direction will allow photovoltaic panels to be installed on the roofs. Whilst the panels on each house would be connected into the dwelling’s own electricity supply, this could be fed from a communal supply for the whole site rather than having individual supplies to each house. The benefit of this would be that the photovoltaic electricity generation would effectively be shared between residents, being used on site more and exported to the grid less.
It would also be possible to use smart controls so that ,for example, the photovoltaic output on a sunny day was used to heat the hot-water tanks in houses when electricity demand for other things was low. Battery storage is another option that could be considered, as suitable batteries have dropped in price over recent years. Assuming an installation of around 5m wide x3.5m deep to each house roof would allow an installation of 220 standard size panels, giving a peak output of 60.5 kW.

We’re hoping to start building this October and complete by the end of 2018. It obviously makes sense to do the PV installation (if we can afford it) while the scaffolding is still up.

Would you be interested in giving us some initial indicative prices? If possible, it would be useful to have them by the end of Thursday 11 May.

We’ll be going out to tender in a month or two, once we’ve finalised our building specification.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Bill Phelps

Chapeltown Cohousing

Here’s his reply…

On 6 May 2017, at 22:56, Medoria Solar wrote:

Hi Bill,

Good to hear from you. I’m pleased to hear your co-housing project is making progress. I’ve had a look at your website and it looks really exciting.

I’m sure we can assist with your project. It’s vaguely similar to what I have at my own house. My setup progressed as follows:

1. Autumn 2011 – 2kW PV system on front roof (facing south-west)

2. 2013 – Added device to divert surplus power to immersion heater

3. Summer 2014 – 2kW PV system on rear roof (facing north-east)

4. 2016 – Bought Nissan Leaf and installed EV Charging Point

5. Early 2017 – Installed 5kWh battery storage system

A few questions:

1) Can you advise what roofing material you will use? Concrete tiles? Slate? The cheapest material from a PV perspective is metal such as:

2) Do you have a preference with regards to the provenance of materials? We have used two British manufacturers (although they probably source many of their components from abroad). 220 panels isn’t a huge order but it may be possible to buy direct from the manufacturer:

3) Are you looking for bolt-on panels which sit on rails above the roof? Or would you prefer an integrated solution? Bolt-on is cheaper but arguably less good looking.

4) The setup mentioned in the consultant’s first paragraph will require some planning. Will each property have its own import meter, MPAN and grid connection? Or will there be one official meter for the whole site and each property has an unofficial meter so that the total bill can be divided up appropriately? Or some other arrangement?

5) Have you already found roofing and/or electrical contractors for the project?

There’s a lot I could say based on the text and illustrations you’ve provided but I’ll limit myself to a few observations:

a) Some of the buildings seem to have lower roofs than their neighbours. This will result in shading issues. We would normally treat a (partially) shaded roof differently from an unshaded one.

b) I think the energy consultant is basing his figures on 275w panels (60500/220 = 275) with 10 panels on 22 roofs. If you’re prepared to accept panels from abroad, it will probably be possible to use more powerful panels to make larger systems. This will obviously give a greater yield and more surplus for water heating or storage. From our viewpoint, the additional cost is only the panel – the same mounting kit, cabling, time, etc will be used.

c) Will each home have its own hot water cylinder with immersion heater? If so, we can certainly fit a diversion device and possibly a battery.

Anyway, some very rough ballpark figures:


22 x 2.75 kW bolt-on systems (10 x 275w panels) on concrete tiled roof using decent quality Chinese panels and Chinese inverter with 10 year warranty

Scaffolding provided and assuming we can install 3 or 4 systems a day (roofers and electrician can attend separately as required by the construction schedule)

All systems installed to MCS standards and will be eligible for FiT payments on completion

£3,000 (+VAT if required)

Immersion Controller = £250 (+VAT)

I can’t envisage the best battery solution yet as it will depend on the setup at the property and the likely usage profile. Probably around £2,000 (+VAT).

We can also supply and install EV charging points if you’re interested.

If this sounds viable, I’d suggest getting together for a cuppa and a chinwag.

Kind regards,

Philip Chow

Managing Director
Medoria Solar, 1a Station Lane, Thorpe, Wakefield, WF3 3DJ
Tel: 01924 872843 Mob: 07723 334791

Bike Storage

The transport survey most of you filled in either last summer or in February revealed that ChaCo will have about fifty bikes, including a tandem and probably a bike trailer or similar. That is a lot of bikes, so for planning purposes we need a clear statement of how we will accommodate them. We have discussed this in Design Group and elsewhere, but it still isn’t clear what the best solution might be.

Therefore we would really appreciate the thoughts of those who will have bikes. I have laid out four options below, with the pros and cons I can think of, but these will no doubt be incomplete. Please add your comments and suggestions below.

There would seem to be four options, apart from keeping your bikes inside your own homes. They are:

1. Build a locked bike shed to accommodate all the bikes.

  • Pro: would provide one clear solution to the bike storage problem.
  • Con: it would be an expensive solution, effectively adding an extra building which would have to be paid for. Justin the architect thinks this option is not worth the cost;
  • Con: It would also take up space which would otherwise be green space;
  • Con: LILAC’s bike sheds, although locked, are a magnet for bike thieves and have been broken into several times.

2. Have smaller storage lockers outside the back of each unit, big enough to accommodate a couple of bikes.

  • Pro: considerably cheaper than building a bike shed;
  • Pro: conveniently just outside people’s homes, and can be used for storing other things if not taken up with bikes.
  • Con: people may feel they are a bit unsightly and take up space in the private spaces behind people’s homes;
  • Con: In the case of duplex units over one-bedroom flats, there would need to be two for one ‘plot’. (But it might also be possible to build them under the stairs that lead down into the ChaCo common garden from the upstairs duplexes.)

3. Have smaller lockers outside the front (Roundhay Road side) of the homes:

  • Pro: they are out of the way of the main ChaCo garden, and not taking up room in people’s private back ‘gardens’;
  • Pro: they would be convenient for people going out of their homes.
  • Con: the Council might not approve them, unless perhaps they were part of the building fabric (and therefore more expensive, and Justin would need to redraw the facade that has already been agreed –
    • (Post-edit: To be honest I don’t think making it part of the building fabric is an option now; we can’t afford it and too late to change the design. People could make their own vertical bike rack inside their houses.);
  • Con: they would probably attract thieves, though their being in full view of the road and very close to the units might reduce this concern. However, bike thieves are often quite imaginative.

4. Just have Sheffield cycle stands (the steel inverted U-shaped ones) outside the back of the homes for people to lock their bikes to, with owners providing their own weatherproof covers:

  • Pro: cheapest option by some distance.
  • Pro: might be able to install in response to demand, and we could possibly do this ourselves with some concrete;
  • Pro: convenient to house;
  • Pro/con: takes up space in private garden, but perhaps less than storage sheds.
  • Con: people might not like this potentially untidy solution – depends on your aesthetic tastes!
  • Con: it give the least protection against the weather for the bikes themselves;
  • Con: very obvious to potential thieves, though they would have to come through the garden very close to the houses to steal them.
  • Con: as with 2 above, do the people in the one-bedroom flats have to put up with the bikes of those above them? (But again the space under the stairs could be used.)

We will also need some lockable visitor bike parking, but I assume this will be easier to find space for. We do need to find it though.

Of course if you have other ideas, do contribute them below. Remember we have about 50 bikes, and we need to be realistic!

Thanks!  – David P

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