Lilac aerial.png

Leeds, United Kingdom

Medium-scale apartment complex (20x dwellings)


  • The site was a disused community facility zone, near public transport services

  • 6 x 1 bed, 6 x 2 bed, 6 x 3 bed, 2 x 4 bed

  • Mutual Home Ownership Scheme

  • Low Carbon Construction (‘ModCell’ - Straw Insulated Prefabricated Panels), On-site water storage, On-site grey water filtration/reuse, On-site food production, Car-share and Bike-share facility, Shared laundry facilities, On-site electricity generation.


LILAC is an exemplar of an affordable housing urban infill development. The development delivers ‘low impact living’ through carbon neutral construction and carbon negative running costs.


The passive solar design of all apartments, combined with super insulated construction, reduces the energy consumption required. Environmental impacts of daily living activities are minimised through car-sharing, pooling resources and tools/equipment, and growing food in allotments.


The Mutual Home Ownership Scheme (MHOS) used allows people with modest incomes to join the property ladder. Each member has a lease which gives them the right to democratically control the housing community they live in. Under the terms of the lease, members pay an equity share to the co-operative and retain equity in the scheme. After deductions for maintenance, insurance etc, these payments pay the mortgage. The payment that leaseholders pay each month and the number of equity shares they hold depends on how much they earn. Monthly payments are set at around 35% of net income. As members leave, existing members can buy more equity shares, and as people’s income levels change, their equity share commitments can also change. If someone leaves sooner than three years, they are not entitled to increases in the value of their equity shares. The company keeps a set percentage of any increase in equity to ensure the sustainability of the project.

The design of the site is intended to build community life. It is based around the Danish co-housing model: mixing people’s needs for their own space in private homes with shared facilities and encouraging social interaction. Green spaces – allotments, pond, a shared garden and a children’s play area – are also important to community interaction. The common house is at the heart of the community, and includes communal cooking and eating facilities, laundry facilities, meeting space, play area, office and guest rooms. This building will be occasionally open to the wider community for events and access to facilities.