Sanford Housing Co-operative

From P2P Foundation
Revision as of 06:20, 30 July 2010 by GoodRollin (talk | contribs) (added forum.)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Sanford is a fully mutual housing co-operative. It is run entirely by its members who make decisions each month at management meetings and periodically through general meetings.

We are located in South East London in the borough of Lewisham and own all of Sanford Walk. The 130 rooms and six flats were purpose built as a single persons co-op in 1971 by a core of founding members.

There are 14 houses which are each shared by eight to 10 people. Each person has their own room with wash basin and shares three toilets, a farmhouse kitchen, a shower room and a bath room. The housing is not appropriate for couples or people with dependant children (or dogs, though there are many cats) nor do we have facilities for people with disabilities.

Sanford has a somewhat bohemian culture with many artists and performers living here. Sanfordians have had a long tradition of an annual party with local musical talent, we have just started a tradition of performing an annual play having done Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare) and Wyrd Sisters (Pratchet).

Environmentalism is a priority of many who live at Sanford and we have undertaken a large innovative project to reduce our carbon emissions by 60%. The C60 project uses biomass and solar to reduce our carbon footprint. There are many keen cyclists on the street too and this has been combined with the periodic performances into the Recyclestage project, a combined bike shed and stage from recycled materials. [1]


Sanford is the oldest purpose built housing co-op in London. Founded at the end of the 1970s by a group of enthusiasts it was turned from a wasteland into a cosy, green and welcoming environment. At any one time there's about 130 tenants living in 14 houses and a block of flats that form Sanford Housing Co-op.

We are proud of Sanford's unique sense of community, cheap rent and living conditions. Unlike most housing associations in London, there is no waiting list for people who want to live here. All applicants go through a membership procedure and are considered on suitability and compatibility grounds. [2]

Current Projects


The Co-op is currently engaged in a large scale project we call C60. We are aiming to reduce our carbon emissions by at least 60%. Most of Britain's carbon emissions come from housing and most of the existing (carbon hungry) housing will still be here in 40 years (including us we hope). The government's policy is to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 so housing refits are an essential part of any carbon reduction strategy.

Among other things, we have already replaced our gas boilers with high efficiency wood pellet boilers, have installed lots of extra insulation, moved to green tariff electricity and fitted solar hot water arrays. We are in the process of replacing our appliances with highest efficiency and are looking into localised electricity generation either with biomass or wind if either becomes practical on our scale.

This a very exciting time here at the Co-op, and although it can sometimes seem like we are living in a building site, things are progressing steadily. The buildings are over 35 years old and rather than just do a cheap refit we've raised our rents (to fund some extra borrowing), applied for some grants and gone for a sustainable option that has us at the cutting edge of sustainable refits. [3]

Sanford in Context - Expansion? Modeling?

The socio-economic situation of the United Kingdom is of real concern to some of the politicians, and some of them are making plans to use something like the inspiration of "cooperation" to undergird large scale changes in the local systems of service delivery in the country. Some of this can be directly tied to the "Big Society" initiative, while other facets seem to be happening organically like the Lambeth Co=operative Council.

It is unclear what role, exactly, the Sanford community will play as there are a number of potential action plans that seem relevant at the moment. The success of the C60 plan to lower the carbon footprint of the community was a success, and could be revisited as a way of offering education and capacity building to other communities in the area. Additionally, because the community is a real hit with the members, perhaps expansion or splitting would be appropriate.

Recently the New Potential Members for a P2P Network article was created to provide a general checklist and orientation for a Commons Based P2P Network that is planning changes like splitting or expansion. The fact that Sanford is a Commons, because of the fact that it is mutually and equally owned by the renters, is an important distinction that could allow the idea of the community to serve as a locus of attention that foments further experimentation within the wider community of London and the world.

Further exploration on the part of the community could reveal that the peers within the community who wish to be involved in some sort of investigation could find utility in the model of a Worker Cooperative like the P2P Consultancy Cooperative. In such a cooperative members who wish to explore the idea of reusing some of the lessons learned could do so in a setting aligned to the idea that these individuals are working on systems that other networks will implement. In this way the peers could usefully partition their interest and continue to work with the Sanford community in a rather well defined manner.


More Information

Internal Links
External Links