Work is well underway on a £1.2m project to transform a row of seven empty Georgian houses in central Sheffield into a new community-owned centre for artists, designers and makers called The Roco.
The Grade II listed buildings are being substantially redesigned to house galleries, workshops, studios, offices, events space, café/bar, terrace and roof garden. This is Sheffield’s first large-scale community-owned development. Roco Creative Co-op is set up as a community benefit society and has secured a 125 year lease on the 17,000 square foot premises.
The Co-operative Loan Fund and Co-operative & Community Finance have both provided substantial loans, as have other social lenders. Roco is also raising finance by the sale of investment shares in the society.
One of the founders of Roco Creative Co-op is social property developer Chris Hill who was also the driving force behind a similar development in Wakefield, Unity Works, which was supported by the Co-operative Community Shares Fund, which the Co-operative Loan Fund helped to set up.
Interviewed by The Guardian, Hill said: “The great thing about the co-operative model is that you’re prepared to share things in the knowledge someone isn’t ripping off your idea to turn it into their own profit. It’s particularly true of creative workers where project groups can come together and dissolve when the project’s finished. The Roco will be a rallying point for these people; they’ll know where to find each other.”
Roco is developing fast. For latest news and to buy shares visit theroco.org