AVAG believes that building developments should be community-based, environmentally-sensitive initiatives, rather than profit-driven commercial enterprises.
AVAG is a community action group that was formed in 2000 by residents of Ashley Vale, Bristol, concerned about the redevelopment of a former scaffolding yard in the area.
Ours is a story of the strength of local people power and the possibility of collective creative thinking.
Determined to stop the developer McAlpine grabbing the scaffold yard land and building 35 brick boxes for corporate profit, a not-for-private-profit company was formed to buy and re-develop the site via self build. We successfully raised the initial purchase funds and achieved planning permission to create a mixed use development, combining affordable housing, work and leisure space. Our passionate slogan from the start was ‘building a community’.
In May 2001, we succeeded in buying the site, in order to create innovative and sustainable self-built housing, workshops and a community space, now known as The Yard.
10 years after purchase of the development site, AVAG firmly believes that is has achieved it's initial aims and ambitions to:
41 homes have been self built or self finished and a community of over one hundred residents is thriving, with a large, busy community space for hire and 3 work units supporting local, small enterprises.
We completed the final phase of development on The Yard in Sep 2009, with the renovation of an old office block situated at the edge of the site. With a group of six residential self builders, we converted the old office block in to an ecologically robust mixed used development.
The ground floor of the renovation is owned by AVAG and is now known as Wildgoose Space. It has become a bustling and vibrant facility comprising of an event/ community room for hire and 3 work units, aimed at long term tenancies by small enterprises. The renovation gets heat and hot water from a renewable heating system, powered by sun and wood. This, and other sustainable build measures put in place, resulted in our final development at The Yard winning the Regional South West Green Energy Award for 'Best Housing Scheme' in 2009.
In September 2010, The Yard received a Building for Life Silver standard award. It is the first time in the award scheme's 8 year history that this award has been made to a self build development. Other notable winners in Bristol and South West in this year were the multi million pound Cabot Circus development and the privately developed Robinson Building - against these hugely funded developments, The Yard can be very proud to be viewed as on a par in terms of its housing and building development achievements.
Now that the initial self build project is fully complete and since the completion and launch of Wildgoose Space, AVAG has turned its attention to its future aims and objectives. We always said that we weren’t just building houses, we were building a community; and we have spent time recently exploring the ways in which we can continue to drive, engage with, and support community-based initiatives.
We have looked back at our aims from 2001 and stated new aims for 2011 onwards: