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Developing a carbon neutral community venue

The Affetside Millennium Green Trust Community venue was an initiative to develop a carbon neutral community building. The initiative was part of a project called the Generating Success project that promoted community renewables in Greater Manchester from 2012.

Affetside is a small village to the north of the urban areas of Bolton and Bury and the antecedents of the Affetside project go back some time to the establishment of the Affetside Community Green Trust in 1997. The Trust was established after the village’s bus terminus in the centre of the village, having lain unused, was open to sale by the metropolitan transport executive. A group of local residents, led by two residents in particular, met at this time and formed a steering group to shape the bus terminus area as a public space.

The group identified lottery funds that were being organized through the Countryside Commission and the Millennium Commission to create up to 250 new areas of open community space. They did so to develop a village green on the site of the bus terminus which was designated The Millennium Green Initiative. As part of a two stage application process, the Affetside Millennium Village Green Committee received funding from the Countryside Commission which provided 50% of the design stage funding and that was matched by the local authority.

This initial stage of funding was important in creating local support for the initiative and the formalization of that support through the creation of a Charitable Trust to own and manage the green. This garnering of local support also extended to involving the local community in the design of the green, with ideas being gathered from a significant number of local people including from each of the local primary school children.

A Landscape Architect translated these inputs into a design that sought to be a focal point for village activities, creating a space where children could play and meet, where wildlife was actively encouraged, where the history of the village was recognised and where visiting walkers could meet.

To move from design and aims to an implemented project in time for the new millennium would cost £30,500. The Countryside Commission gave half of this with remaining funding provided by Bury Council and private companies Pilsworth Environmental Company and Barlocher UK.


An Alternative?

Wind forward more than a decade and the charitable trust still functions. The community engagement function that underpinned the Millennium Green project led to plans for a carbon neutral community venue for community groups to meet and where events could be held and equipment for maintaining the green could be stored.

Land, adjacent to the Green, was donated to the Trust. The Trust were centrally involved in the design of the building and worked with a building surveyor, the local authority, architects and local residents to design the scheme. The initiative also received UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF) monies and was part of the Generating Success Trailblazer project working with three Greater Manchester organisations (GMCVO, MERCi and Carbon Co-op) and funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the UK government department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA). Additionally there was a process of local fundraising.

Not only were the group involved with the design but they also aimed to be involved in the construction work. This would integrate solar panels on the building’s roof, with potential connection to the grid and income generation for maintenance of the venue as well as rainwater harvesting.

The development of this carbon neutral community venue shows the importance of social organization in such projects. It also demonstrates the long-term nature and social investment required in these processes over time.


This article is published here as part of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform’s aspiration to raise the visibility of different community innovations, grassroots projects and activities in the city-region.

 It also draws on SURF's involvement in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant, 'Retrofit 2050' and contributes to understanding of the Remaking of the Material Fabric of the City.

Find out here about the background, purpose and content of ‘The Alternative?’ series of articles on Platform.

Main image used courtesy of Flickr user Pimlico Badger. Published here under a Creative Commons Licence.