Wessex Community Assets has taken an action research approach in a number of areas, exploring innovative solutions to accessing land, property and finance. This includes the original research into the potential for community shares (in 2007-8) and the development of the CLT-housing association partnership model.

Wessex is currently with the architects Assemble Studio in an innovative partnership – Raise the Roof – focused on affordable and ecological housing. Assemble won the Turner Art Prize for the development of the Granby Workshop in Liverpool. Working also with Common Ground, The Arts Development Company, Dorset Woodhub and Bridport Town Council, WCA recently organised a successful course in sustainable construction, as part of the process of prototyping initial designs and testing local supply chains.

The Raise the Roof project is now moving into a second stage: aiming to show how the economy of a typical small town can be transformed through linking the primary production of key sustainable resources (timber and “woody fibres”- flax and hemp), the development of new processing and fabrication infrastructure and the design and prototyping of ecological and affordable housing. The project addresses three interlocking crises – the lack of affordable housing, the lack of training and decent jobs, and the unsustainable nature of present production and consumption. The aim is to achieve a fair transition to an ecological and equitable local economy, and develop a model that can be adopted widely – based on the creation of key community-led assets and networks.

Trainees working on the building of a tiny house