PLANS for a housing co-operative where residents could eat meals together, share their cars and grow their own food has taken a step forward.

The YorSpace project will be a 19-home community based within a larger development at the former Lowfield School site, with outline planning permission granted for the scheme at a council meeting last week.

Co-director of the not-for-profit organisation James Newton admitted some people believe the housing is idealistic but said developers should be building more environmentally-friendly, sustainable and community-focused homes.

He said: “People say it’s idealistic but if people take control of the kind of place where they want to live, they can make it happen. It’s not impossible.

“The homes will be built using sustainable forms of construction, like straw bales, so that the homes are sustainable to construct and low cost to run. We have got to move to a new way of building."

Plans include a shared laundrette with five washing machines, a workshop space where residents can use shared tools and cleaning equipment like vacuum cleaners, and allotments and a village green area. Residents will also be expected to share cars, with a 15 space car park due to serve 19 homes.

James added: “There is a communal kitchen and dining space where residents can share meals - this space can double up as a space for meetings and film nights. When residents have visitors they will be able to book guest rooms in the common building. The rooms can also double up as offices or playrooms that can be booked out."

The homes will be available through a Mutual Home Ownership scheme, which would see residents own shares in a mutually owned property trust, and make make payments towards a collective mortgage. This is divided into equity shares and when a resident leaves they can assign their lease to a new member but take their equity with them. This helps keep the homes affordable because they cannot be sold on at a higher value.

YorSpace aims to deliver the homes at cost, with the hope that they will be 25 per cent less than comparable properties currently on the market.

It would be the first scheme of its kind for York, with James saying the group are inspired by the Lilac co-operative in West Leeds.

More than 120 people have already signed up to the group, with the youngest member aged two and the eldest in her 80s. James said this reflects the focus on a mix of generations living in the same community.

The organisation has already secured grant funding of £110,000 and is now looking for £500,000 of investment in the scheme so building work can begin around Easter 2019, with the homes due to be complete by Easter 2020.