Having witnessed the loss of SO many women’s buildings we wanted to have a system for making sure that we NEVER lose another building.
That means we must OWN the buildings ourselves.
But how would we fund such buildings? Our idea is that we would build housing as well as the community spaces, and that the sale or rent of the housing would fund the Women’s Centres.
THE BUSINESS PLAN
We have consulted with a number of experts in finance and property development who have checked all our costings and projections. They tell us the Plan works on paper! It worked so well that when we found a site we had a developer interested, architects engaged and a £165,000 grant from the GLA’s Community Right to Build fund. So we do believe the Business Plan is realistic.
We also have a Plan for when the Women’s Centre is up and running which demonstrates that we should be able to pay for one full-time or two part-time centre managers.
We have created a BenCom, or Community Benefit Society, which will allow us to issue community shares. This will raise a lot more funding and also give every shareholder part-ownership of the building.
Rooms of our Own would not be providing any services ourselves. We will be providing SPACE. Affordable, accessible, safe, green SPACE.
We will be looking to other organisations to provide the facilities and services that women want and need by taking permanent space in the building or by booking rooms occasionally.
There will definitely be a cafe, meeting rooms, hot-desking, a creche and a multi-purpose hall plus whatever else is required in the area.
We hope that the Centre will become a centre of support and activity and creativity for all women and all women’s issues in the area.
We have been looking for a public body to offer us land to buy. This is because private sales need to happen very quickly, and we need a benevolent seller who understands the social value our project will bring and is willing to wait 6 months for us to raise the necessary funds to buy the land
We want to buy land rather than acquire an existing building so that we can build precisely what we want, to passivhaus standards (no bills) fully accessible and requiring minimal maintenance in the near future.
We are looking for a site near a station in a reasonably busy, well-lit situation. Our research tells us this is one of the most important issues for women in terms of travelling safely at night.
We need about 1,000 square metre footprint for our own purposes, with ability to build housing to 4 or 5 storeys above. However if we can obtain a larger site, we would like to build genuinely affordable CLT based housing and co-housing for older women as well.
We have several organisations interested in partnering with us, depending on where and when the project happens. If you would like to partner with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WALTHAMSTOW PLAN
This is the scheme that was prepared for the site we were in the process of buying.