We buy and convert empty offices into homes for people!

Updates

April update

Things have been quiet for us onsite over the school holidays, aside from some reinforcing of tree fencing.
Offsite our attention has been on developing a professionally printed brochure. This will have visuals of the project as well as background on the bigger issue, and include a tear out and post pledge form for potential supporters to fill and return. Some of the visuals will be architects’ computer renderings of what the site will look like which we will also post here for everyone to see.
We continue to have regular ads in the Big Issue which bring in a steady response.
Meetings for prospective residents also continue onsite, and with the lighter evenings we can now give people a better idea of the layout and space.

We are also co-ordinating our response to a generous offer of donated office furniture for us to sell on and make some money for the cause. We have found a possible buyer for desks, and hope to have space to store various smaller items while we find buyers. We hope this will allow us to support small local organisations in need of professional furniture but unable to pay big prices, as well as raising funds for our own work.

March update

We completed a survey of the building for asbestos, and found nothing of significant risk. There are a just few pieces we should be able to remove ourselves, with care. Hurrah! We also need to remove all weeds growing inside the footprint of our planned extension. We’ll either use weedkiller or a suppression membrane for this. As clearance goes on it helps that the previous owners put a skip on the bungalow site next door. We can use this to remove the rubbish they left onsite.

Save that tree! We’ve now ordered scaffold poles to support the tree protection fencing. The 6 year old planning permission we inherited calls for protection of all trees on site, but their condition has changed since the planning was submitted. The planning office are insisting we protect two trees which actually now need removing. The trees in question have been badly managed, have insufficient foliage for their size and have some severe damage, all from before we bought the site. The planning office do not have enough manpower to get someone to look at the trees again! So we have to protect them all in line with original planning conditions.

Elinor completed her site management safety training – always a priority in a project like this – this month. Admin wise, we are now meeting at our archiects’ office, which gives us somewhere quiet and private to discuss work and plans.

We’ll have another update before our Annual General Meeting for shareholders, which is set for Thursday 14th May at the Friends’ Meeting House in Champion Square, BS2. Put it in your diaries now… Full agenda soon

What we’ve been up to – January-February 2015

We want to keep everyone in touch with the project, especially developments on site. Getting our hands on a property was a great step forward. But the work to develop it is complex and has taken our energies away from updating things here! More regular blog posts will follow. But first a catch up on January and February. Here’s what happened in January

We got a boost with an award from Green Capital, who granted us £500 for architects fees. This will produce proper plans for vertical and compact gardening around our accommodation. And Bristol Quaker Area Meeting supported us too, with £450 for professional development training for Elinor Kershaw, now officially our project manager.

Elinor met with Construction Design and Management Co-ordinator (our Health and Safety guy) to look at paperwork we need to file for the site.

Meanwhile, we continued to spread the word. Elinor and Tony Crofts spoke to the TUC Young Workers Forum about housing, and they responded very positively to our work. We had a meeting with Acorn, a tenants’ rights group, to tell them what we’ve been doing and help us make new contacts this year as we continue our fund-raising efforts. And Elinor also recorded an item for, Backchat, a programme broadcast locally on community radio.

And in February

More meetings, naturally: including one for people interested in developing and joining the housing co-operative who will occupy the finished building; and a session with the architect and their new assistant to look at what preparatory work needs doing on site. We also attended the St George Neighbourhood Partnership meeting, another way to reach prospective residents.

An important piece of that work was taken care of – a boundary audit, checking just who is responsible for which parts of the boundaries of this complex plot. We contacted one neighbour whose wall needs repairing. We also investigated and cleared a blockage in the old drainage channel down the side of the building.

Our quantity surveyor visited the site to assess our plans and reckon up the cost estimates.

Spreading the word: There were articles about AEOB in Clifton Life and the Bristol Post (links to follow), and we featured on the front page of Lawrence Hill and Barton Hill’s community paper Up Your Street. We have been working on increasing our visibility on twitter – do follow @AEOBpeople, and retweet us when you can!

Following Elinor’s shift into her role as Project Manager, Charles Gamble has agreed to take up duties as our Secretary. He is currently acting in the role pending his confirmation as a Director.

More news after the Easter break.

We have a site!

We had an agreement of sale for 22 Battens Lane yesterday! The people present (pic 1) were Elinor Kershaw, trustee, future resident and mum to Alice Kershaw (aged 5); David Mowat, adviser; Tony Crofts, founder and trustee; James Deane, future resident; vendor Jason Fuller; Chris Askew and Nerea Gonzalez, architects.

The second pic shows the interior with Alice, Elinor and James. So, lots of potential!

Please buy shares to help us buy the place outright (we’re negotiating for a 90 day completion period and putting deposit down now) so we don’t have to go for an expensive bridging loan. Share forms and details on the Invest page.

Members of the Abolish Empty Office Buildings campaign in St George, Bristol, agree the purchase of their first Empty Office, which the campaign will convert into affordable flats for people to live in as part of a new social housing co-operative in Bristol. Left to right: Elinor Kershaw, trustee, future resident and mum to Alice Kershaw (6); David Mowat, adviser; Tony Crofts, founder and trustee; James Deane, future resident; vendor Jason Fuller; Chris Askew and Nerea Gonzalez, architects.

Members of the Abolish Empty Office Buildings campaign in St George, Bristol, agree the purchase of their first Empty Office, which the campaign will convert into affordable flats for people to live in as part of a new social housing co-operative in Bristol. Left to right: Elinor Kershaw, trustee, future resident and mum to Alice Kershaw (6); David Mowat, adviser; Tony Crofts, founder and trustee; James Deane, future resident; vendor Jason Fuller; Chris Askew and Nerea Gonzalez, architects.

Members of the residents' group of the Abolish Empty Office Buildings campaign, Alice Kershaw (6) Elinor Kershaw and James Deane, take a look at the first office property the group is going to buy in St George, Bristol, for conversion to a social housing co-operative. 

Members of the residents’ group of the Abolish Empty Office Buildings campaign, Alice Kershaw (6) Elinor Kershaw and James Deane, take a look at the first office property the group is going to buy in St George, Bristol, for conversion to a social housing co-operative. 

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