Students and investor-supporters come together to secure sustainable and affordable student housing in Birmingham

A multi-stakeholder co-operative has secured a financial package enabling the purchase of a property that will provide affordable tenancies and access to democratically owned accommodation for students in the Birmingham area.

Founded in March 2018, Student Co-operative Homes (SCH) aims to bring together existing and start up student housing co-operatives across the UK and build a portfolio of properties for lease to local self-managing student housing co-ops.

The board is made up of individuals nominated by ‘user members’ – frequently current student residents – along with ‘investor supporter’ members, these are generally individuals with years of experience and expertise in the co-operative sector or established Co-operatives such the Heart of England and Midcounties Retail Co-operatives who bring their experience and capital in support of Student Housing Co-operatives. 

Securing loans from both Co-operative & Community Finance and Co-op Loan Fund has enabled Student Co-operative Homes to purchase the property currently resided in by the Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative set up in 2014. The acquisition has helped lay the future roadmap for the property and the local co-operative, enabling a collective long-term vision with renovations, retrofit and a green agenda alongside the existing positive impact for students’ wellbeing of security in the property, affordable rents, democratic control and a purposeful student community.

Consisting of nine bedrooms, the detached two-storey house is located close by to the University of Birmingham (just outside the main student population area of Selly Oak) with excellent transport links to the city centre. Living in the housing co-operative while studying enables tenants to come together, pool resources and collaborate for mutual benefit with the view to passing on the accommodation to other students once they leave. Fostering a sense of autonomy among the students also gives time and opportunity to develop their skills and build local connections in the wider community.

Scott Jennings, Chair of Student Co-op Homes said, “We are massively grateful to both lenders for stepping in and supporting this acquisition at such an important time. This enables us as Multi-Stakeholder Co-op and the local Student Housing Co-operative to step forward together and to enact our plans for the future of the property that are essential to enable affordable student housing into the future that addresses and challenges a fundamentally broken student housing market.”

As a multi-stakeholder co-operative with members (with and without property) in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester, Belfast and Bristol and in Cork (Republic of Ireland); the co-operative is keen to see the development of more student housing co-ops across the UK and beyond, acting as a platform for promoting co-operative values and development particularly amongst young people.

Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “We are delighted to be able to support Student Co-operative Homes Limited purchase this property. Student Housing Co-operatives are an excellent initiative which can help build the co-operative sector of the future. They are attracting a new generation of co-operative members which is good to see.”

For more information about Student Co-operative Homes, you can visit their website.