Pat Conaty, well-known in Birmingham for his co-founding of the Aston Reinvestment Trust with Sir Adrian Cadbury and setting up the Debt Advice Centre at the Birmingham Settlement, moved to Wales where he is promoting community housing and community land trusts (CLTs).
His work with others includes the building of a partnership between the Welsh government, co-op housing activists and non-profit housing developers to run a national demonstration project on CLTs and other forms of democratic housing including co-op rental, co-op shared equity, community self-build and co-housing.
He comments that such partnerships have long been established in Scandinavia where co-op housing is commonplace, continuing:
“As affordable housing both to own and to rent has vanished since 2010, community led-housing solutions have been emerging against the odds. Community Land Trusts in rural and urban areas, co-housing and student housing co-ops have been bootstrapped by activists . . .
“In Wales and South West England partnerships with government and local authorities and housing associations are showing how to develop effective public-social partnerships with local activists to increase the diversity of democratic housing provision and solutions”.
At the Co-op Congress in Wakefield last July, Ed Mayo asked Pat to chair the Reimagine Housing session which led to further developments with Liverpool and Leeds activists connecting CLTs and Co-op housing to speak, the Student housing co-op activists and other innovators.
This led to other meetings in early January with housing co-operatives and the head of a housing association, interested in his Commons Sense report for Co-ops UK on Co-op garden city opportunities and connections with those working in the Midlands on the use of brownfield land to develop new garden cities.