This book is a detailed account of how an affordable, low-impact cohousing scheme was conceived, negotiated, designed, financed and built in Leeds (in the UK). The negotiations over getting land, as well as the design, financing and legal aspects, took far longer than the actual construction, and the account of the challenges that had to be faced will be valuable to others committed to such housing. This account is also located within a discussion of what this kind of local innovation can contribute to addressing larger local, city and global social and ecological challenges.
This book has seven chapters. The first introduces the initiative that was named LILAC – Low Impact Living Affordable Community. It makes clear that this is more about the people and the process although it also has details of equipment and innovative design features. The second discusses how this initiative incorporated many different objectives that are not always easily aligned (sustainable, equitable, self-reliant…) within larger social, economic and ecological challenges. Chapter 3 tells the “development journey” (with some reflections on the first year of living there). The next three chapters look at low impact living (and how it was put into practice), affordability (and the financial models used) and community (especially with cohousing). The final chapter presents lessons for different groups (grassroots, developers, the local state) and the problems and pitfalls associated with projects like LILAC.