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Official opening for Rhyl’s community housing cooperatove

The first urban community housing cooperative has been officially opened in Wales.

West Rhyl Housing Cooperative, set up by West Rhyl Community Land Trust (WRCLT), North Wales Housing (NWH) and Wales Co-operative Centre, was set up to develop a new and “empowered” community in the heart of the regeneration area in West Rhyl.

Afallon Housing Development, opposite the Gerddi Heulwen park, is the cooperative’s first development, creating new homes for 11 local families, couples and individuals. It was officially opened by Nic Bliss, chair of the Confederation of Cooperative Housing.

Made up of seven newbuild family houses and four fully refurbished apartments, the development saw the first seven families move into the houses at the end of October 2016, and have since enjoyed their first Christmas in their new homes. The remaining four families have moved into their new apartments this month.

Tom Jones, resident and chair of Afallon Residents Committee is happy with his new home: “This is an amazing opportunity to move to a brand new property and to have a say in how it's managed. West Rhyl has always been a brilliant place to live and now we can look forward to building a brand new community right in the heart of it."

Fiona Davies, chair of WRCLT, said: “Afallon Housing Development is a vitally important scheme to West Rhyl. It is a culmination of 6 years of hard work from volunteers and members of the community, to create the West Rhyl Land Trust, develop partnership with North Wales Housing and subsequently the new Housing Co-operative. Community aspirations were for better quality housing in the area and that is exactly what’s been achieved.”

Nikki Jones, director of WRCLT added: “This is a proud moment for those of us who have strived to make this development happen. Our Community Board have been dedicated to producing a positive outcome for West Rhyl, and their commitment has now paid off.”

Helena Kirk, chief executive of North Wales Housing said: “Afallon is a unique housing development and North Wales Housing are proud to be involved in the project. The development has exceeded expectations and the houses are great example of what houses would have looked like in the area. The cooperative model has worked well and we are pleased that there is already a sense of community on the street; the cooperative is no doubt to thank for that.”

Dave Palmer, cooperative housing project manager at the Wales Cooperative Centre said:  “Local people making decisions about their homes can make a huge, positive difference to the future health and well-being of our communities. By their very nature, housing co-operatives are more collaborative and democratic, and they encourage and support local community control in their immediate neighbourhoods.

“The Welsh Cooperative Housing programme has shown us that co-operative housing is flexible to meet many needs and any tenure. At the Wales Cooperative Centre we are working to ensure co-operative housing provides a significant proportion of the 20,000 new affordable homes to be built during this Welsh Government term.”

Housing cooperatives give tenants a greater say on day-to-day issues that can affect their quality of life. Issues could include appointing maintenance contractors, setting service charges, allocating properties to new tenants joining the community and organising events.

To be considered to be a part of the cooperative, potential tenants had to have lived, worked or volunteered in Rhyl for at least two of the past five years and were assessed on their suitability against key criteria.

The Welsh government’s cabinet secretary for communities and children, Carl Sargeant said: “The Afallon development is an excellent example of how the Welsh Government is delivering on its commitment to provide high quality, affordable housing and I am pleased tenants are already enjoying their new homes.

“This project is a key element of the West Rhyl Housing Improvement Programme, a Welsh Government led investment of almost £17m in improving housing and providing green space in the area which will be vital in contributing to the regeneration of the town.”

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