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Cross Lances HC

23 homes in Central Hounslow.
Registered Office: 8 Waldegrave Road, Teddington, TW11 8GT.

Cross Lances' contact for housing management enquiries at Co-op Homes is Rob Warren

 

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BACKGROUND OF CROSS LANCES HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE (CL)

The history of CL, which started meeting in the late 70s, dates back to the 1960s. A group of young, single people in outer West London came together through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and local Folk Clubs. By the mid 1960s they began to move beyond just protesting towards practical     co-operative solutions for some of their needs. The Freeman Syndicate was set up to run a range of activities. The Freeman Syndicate Fun Club was run by volunteers on every Friday evening until the early 70s in the White Hart pub in Southall. Folk, jazz, blues, poetry, comedy and drama were mixed with politics and planning new projects. A large van owned by the Syndicate was used for weekend trips and moving members between homes. Occasional concerts were promoted and, with help from Syndicate volunteers and funds, a West London magazine was produced. Many Syndicate members could not find decent affordable housing and several years of discussion led to the formation of Middlesex Housing Association (MHA) in 1969.

First attempt to house 54 people for only £10,000

The first MHA proposal, in 1969, was to lease the long-empty Railway Workers Hostel in Southall. This was to be converted into flats, a communal space, restaurant, laundry, shop and a crèche to house 54 people at a cost of £10,000. Voluntary, self-help building work was planned to make this possible without any Government subsidy. Unfortunately British Rail did not lease the building to MHA and it was left derelict for many years.

Filling up the empties

MHA members looked for other schemes and, from early 1972, set up several organisations which resulted in the first properties being obtained free of charge from Hounslow Council in early 1973. These were renovated entirely by voluntary labour and more properties were then located by volunteers carrying out empty property surveys in the Boroughs of Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing. Initial fundraising was aided by members saving £20 a month in loanstock issued by MHA.

Going for gold

The 1974 Housing Act made Government subsidy available so MHA began to set up permanent Housing Co-operatives for Green Dragon Lane in Brentford and Water Tower in Southall.

Saving a street!

One of the first empty property surveys of the centre of Hounslow during the 70s identified 1-15 Andersons Place. Hounslow Council had declared the houses unfit for human habitation, moved out nearly all the residents and boarded up their homes. Demolition was planned for the entire street with the loss of 15 two bedroomed houses right in the town centre, This plan was delayed by the refusal of three long-standing residents; an elderly man, his adult daughter and her son, to move out of the street. Hounslow Council officers reluctantly agreed to temporary renovation of the empty houses in the belief that their terrible condition made this unachievable.

Extreme D.I.Y

Floor boards had been torn up to be nailed over the windows. Plumbing and wiring had been ripped out and concrete had been poured down the drains. Despite this, volunteers restored the properties at low cost and moved into the street, much to the relief of the existing residents who were no longer threatened with eviction. The temporary renovation included laying new drains so that new kitchens and bathrooms could be provided within the rear ground floor rooms. Originally there were no bathrooms or internal toilets - only outside toilets in buildings at the rear of the back gardens. The improvements made the living space too small for most families, so the majority of the temporary residents were childless couples.

Cross Lances Co-op ambitions

By early 1978, the occupants of Andersons Place had been organised as Cross Lances Housing Co-op, aiming to secure a permanent future for Andersons Place and to expand into neighbouring Cross Lances Road and other town centre sites.

Permanent rebuilding of Andersons Place

Hounslow Council had agreed to sell Andersons Place by the beginning of 1983, Government subsidy was secured and building work began at the start of 1985. Most of the rear half of the houses was demolished and new building expanded their size by an extra 50% so that they would provide adequate space for family housing. The houses were finished and officially re-opened in April 1986. Most of the self-help residents who had to move out for the building work were re-housed in temporary properties in Cross Lances Road. These also accommodated the three original residents until they moved back into Andersons Place.

End of the road for for public subsidy

Changes in Government subsidy rules made in 1988 required private finance as well as Government subsidy to fund future schemes, and only large scale Housing Associations were able to work under these new rules.

New building on Whitton Road car park

The Co-op had plans in the pipeline to construct 8 new houses and flats on the site of Whitton Road car park close to Andersons Place. These were completed by working with one of the large Housing Associations.

Temporary housing in Cross Lances Road and further plans

Most of the temporary housing in Cross Lances Road was returned empty to Hounslow Council during 2008 and 2009, but a few houses remain in temporary use. Middlesex Housing Co-op, which carries on the temporary housing work originally done by MHA, owns one house in Cross Lances Road within the site of 3-23 Cross Lances Road. Hounslow Council will select a large Housing Association to redevelop this site and MHC hopes to secure some future additional co-op housing as part of a deal to sell the MHC owned house.