Original article published on Sunday 10th November 2013.
Interviews by Clio Williams and original photo by Muir Vidler.

Sunday Times article - The Ecos Have Landed

As part of the Real Britannia series of articles the Sunday Times magazine interviewed inhabitants of LILAC Co-Housing in Leeds.

The original article was published on Sunday 10th November 2013. Interviews by Clio Williams and original photo by Muir Vidler.

1) Brenda Gosling, 75, volunteer and Reiki specialist. I live here with Clive, 79, who I met through a meeting about LILAC four years ago. We had a lot in common: both widowers, and interested in anything ecological. I love gardening and have an impulsive, adventurous side to me

2) Avelino Manuel, 48, Biomedical support worker, and his son Samuel, 4. I used to live in Portugal, in a community of farmers who supported one another, collecting grapes together, digging potatoes. My wife and I were so happy to find this place. We child-share with the families in the other houses [in the development behind the fence]

3) Richard Thompson, 34, it project manager, and his daughter Amber, 3 The walls of our houses are made of timber, with tightly packed straw bales under layers of rendering. They really hold the heat in. My average monthly gas and electricity bill is £20, compared to my colleague who pays £140!

4) Laura Mmith, 54, Biology teacher
I sold my four-bedroom house to move here. We grow vegetables, car- share, order bread and food from other local co-ops. Our carbon footprint is 2-3 tonnes a year, compared to the average household, which is about 5 tonnes

5) Robin Fishwick, 53, Chaplain and support worker I feel I’m leaving the right type of legacy for my daughters, Rosa, 9  and Grace, 7. I want them to have a sense of how to live well — not just leave them a property they can use

6) Rosa Fishwick, 9. I enjoy stepping outside the door and always seeing someone I know. I’m the oldest of the little ones, we play all the time, and mummy is teaching me to garden. We’ve been here six months but it still feels like a holiday camp

7) Beth Oxley, 30, trainee GP. 
It can be intense living here — it’s important to get the balance between communal and personal time. We hold meetings to discuss issues. Every decision is made by consensus, which isn’t always easy

8) Mike Hill, 31, Support worker. People think I live in a place full of naked people running around. I wish that were the case! We pay 35% of our income to live here. I earn £13,500. It’s amazing that on my salary I can live in
the heart of Leeds in a place like this.

LILAC residents have now received their first Gas bills

Resident Paul Chatterton’s bill was £7 for gas (his is a house with Solar Hot Water Panels). Other apartments  with no SHW were £20. Given the debate about energy companies raising the cost of energy by 10% this is very relevant today. The energy bills for LILAC are between 80% and 90% less than the average for Leeds in 2012