As many of you know, Loaf is part of a consortium of co-ops in Stirchley, Stirchley Co-operative Development (SCD), that are developing the land between Hunts Road and the British Oak. We started planning in 2016 so you can imagine how ecstatic we all are to see diggers levelling the ground ready for construction.
We had our ground breaking ceremony on Friday to mark the end of planning and the start of building. It was good to see a range of politicians in attendance – local councillors, our MP and the leader of the council – all supporting the core message of our project, that people thrive when they are in control of their housing.
You can read a press release about the ground breaking here. Thanks to all our friends and supporters who also attended. It was a really positive and rewarding day.
What does this mean for Loaf, practically speaking?
The biggest change is that we’ll be working in square rooms. Loaf’s bakery is currently a corridor on two levels and it’s not ideal. Our new premises has been designed for our needs rather than our needs being compromised to fit.
The cookery school will have a dedicated space. Currently it’s shared with the pastry, sweets and lunch shifts which, limits the amount of classes we can run. In the new building all this will move to the bakery so we’ll be able to schedule classes and activities every day. We’re excited to see how we can use this to broaden our reach and make our classes more accessible to the community.
The shop will be bigger. Like the bakery it’s currently a corridor with very little room but the new shop will have plenty more space for local products and baking supplies.
With 39 flats above us we’ll be part of an active community. We’re constantly interrogating what it means to be a ‘community bakery’ and being part of the co-op running the building will add a fascinating dimension to this. The people upstairs won’t just be potential customers – they’ll be colleagues and partners working with us towards our mutual goals. Will this change how we relate to the people who buy our bread? We shall see!
Ultimately it will give us stability. We will be in control of our rents and can’t be evicted for arbitrary reasons. While we currently have a friendly landlord and are grateful for all they’ve done for us, that could change and we would have no say in the process. The minimum life of the new building is 50 years and we want Loaf to be baking bread in, and for, Stirchley for at least that long.
Construction is scheduled to take a year and we should be able to move in from next autumn.