3 December 2020

Local people invited to review designs for affordable housing for Crook, County Durham



Community-led housing is a growing movement of normal people taking action and managing housing projects that build decent and affordable homes that the country so desperately needs. Community-Led Housing has been ongoing across the country for many years and has more recently gathered pace and interest across the North East and Durham.

In 2018, the government made available £163 million across England up to 2020 through the Community Housing Fund to enable organisations to move forward and take projects through to the planning stage. Since May 2019, Crook Community Leisure has been working with Durham County Council to seek opportunities to develop their own community-led housing scheme. 

Community-led housing on land north of Crook Leisure Centre

Working with the design team, the Trustees of Crook Community Leisure have worked up plans for this project with members of the community, Changing Step, and tenants. It is envisaged that the homes will have veterans first, disabled and members of the community looking to move into these rental, affordable homes.

Based on an initial housing needs survey, a range of affordable rental accommodation is proposed. Most houses meet the Building Regulation Standards Part M2(4) and the Lifetime Homes standards, meaning they are accessible and adaptable for changing lifestyles and suitable for families or elderly occupants. 

The project also includes a strong landscape plan, including a community orchard and garden, wheelchair friendly and walkable access to the nearby Leisure Centre, as well as a natural play space for the community. Two community rooms for activities are incorporated in the design for future tenants to use. 

Online design review

The Planning for the Future white paper laid down the challenge to bring planning into the digital age. Given the current restrictions due to Covid-19, the team draws on the PlaceChangers platform to add innovative best-in-class methods for public engagement to their design process. 

The online design review for this project allows members of the community to get involved in housebuilding and review designs for the site from the comfort of their homes.

John Winter of Crook Community Leisure said: 


“This project is an exciting opportunity to provide high-quality affordable housing for rent , aimed at veterans, disabled and the wider community. The project is now at the detailed design stage and we are looking forward to hearing from local people, helping to share the future of the site. The revenue from this project will be re-invested into expanding the leisure facilities on our existing site nearby.”

James Longfield of Dixon Dawson said: 


“Community-led developments provide an opportunity to do things differently and develop high-quality housing for a smaller site to fit the local need. This proposal considers the health and wellbeing of residents. Alongside accessible, affordable accommodation, we have included community rooms, ample green space, and natural play spaces.”

Joe Ridgeon, the planning consultant at Hedley Planning, noted: 


“As a leading SME planning firm in the North East, we are always excited about projects such as these that provide social value for the local community. We look forward to seeing this project develop”.

Sebastian Weise, director at PlaceChangers, noted: 


“As a leading UK firm for digital planning, we are proud to make engagement with housing projects more easy for the public and project owners alike; this project makes exemplary use of the innovative PlaceChangers consultation platform. It also shows the North East's leading role comes to excellence in construction.” 


How to review the designs

Local residents are now invited to participate in an online design review for this project. This innovative engagement format is hosted on the PlaceChangers platform, where anybody can see the proposal map, and respond to any aspect of the proposals in an interactive format. 

The design review is open till 18th of December on the PlaceChangers platform: https://beta.placechangers.uk/campaign/164/overview

Organisations mentioned

Crook Community Leisure is a community-based organisation based in Crook, County Durham aiming to provide the community of Crook and its surrounding area with the opportunity to take part in a variety of sporting activities within a specialist built, high quality sports venue. 

Hedley Planning Services is a forward-thinking North of England planning consultancy, specialising in securing planning consents for a wide range of development projects across the UK. 

Dixon Dawson Architects are an award-winning practice with a long standing reputation for design expertise, completing projects nationwide, cross sector experience and dealing with all stages of the development process.

PlaceChangers is a startup focused on digital solutions for collaboration and engagement in development and regeneration projects. The PlaceChangers platform helps architects, urban planners, and developers to understand the context of new development proposals through collaboration and intelligent handling of data. 

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