Stop #1: HAB Housing

We gathered last night at HAB Housing – the ‘first stop’ and launch event of our ‘Impact Tour’ of Bristol. The evening was introduced by Darren Hall and the Impact Hub Candidate core team – setting out our vision of how a future Bristol Impact Hub can facilitate a new way to get things done:

People powered, local, inclusive, creative, collaborative and networked.

DSCN2409We were delighted that HAB (Happiness, Architecture, Beauty) agreed to be our very generous hosts for the evening and welcomed us into their space at Temple Studios. Mike Roberts HAB’s MD introduced us to their work and discussed their current housing projects highlighting their approach to sustainability aligned with their core mission – to ‘make homes that lift the spirits: that are a pleasure to live in and a joy to behold.’

DSCN2455Mike told us about HAB’s Dunmail Road housing development in Southmead. To be completed in 2018, it is set on the former Dunmail Primary School site, and in partnership with United Communities will offer a mix of sustainable homes built with the environment in mind. The scheme will have a central green pedestrian street which will be the social centre as well as green infrastructure, including sustainable food production, low carbon energy sources and new cycle routes. “I love housing – it’s connected to everything from energy and transport to health and food. I’m really proud of our Southmead development and excited that we’ll have 100% renewable energy, and in fact is going to be net positive.”


Mike went on to explain some of the barriers to better housing in Bristol. Central are the availability of land and finance with the main challenge being the need for Councils to avoid highest bidder syndrome where big developers bid high, win contracts and then build poorly to recuperate costs. “We need to transition from big public development to small development through public private community partnerships. And we don’t need 250,000 new houses a year, we need to adapt the building stock we already have. The trick is finding ways of adapting that are easily replicable and scalable.”

It was really encouraging to see so many people join us and give up their time to invest in co-designing Bristol’s Impact Hub. The second part of the evening focused on ‘listening’ to our potential Impact Hub community – a vital part of our engagement and enquiry work.

How could an Impact Hub potentially facilitate and accelerate people’s own projects, knowledge and networks within the city – and beyond?

So with this in mind – after Mike’s talk we split up into three working groups and discussed the following three questions:

  • What are the most pressing problems and challenges we face in Bristol?
  • What are the solutions and what is the change you can bring?
  • How could an Impact Hub Bristol help you and serve our community?


To begin with – all the groups started off by sounding out the big issues that we all experience within the city covering topics such as transport, housing policy, the rising cost of living and a divided city.


However – as we discussed issues in more detail and how we can bring change collectively, we started to explore more specific ideas around connecting ‘siloed’ communities and providing opportunities in both education and business through skills sharing programmes. The overarching issue being the clear sense of a ‘divided’ city – and existing barriers where sector based communities don’t explicitly share local resources and/or opportunities in a fair way across the diverse communities within the city.


After much discussion, opinions and collective sharing – below are listed the key takeouts from the feedback.

Key points:

  • Provide agency, opportunity and incubation for social enterprises
  • Explicit need to signpost and ‘matchmaker’ skill-sharing (create a Bristol ‘skills currency’)
  • To be the ‘glue’ between various communities and networks
  • Build bridges between education and business – provide mentoring / apprenticeship opportunities
  • Proactively reach out and partner with diverse and marginalised communities
  • Demonstrate ‘quick wins’ on a local level and create scalable ‘prototypes’
  • Create a ‘neutral space’ for projects to accelerate in a collaborative environment
  • Engage and communicate with people at a human scale to develop inclusivity


There is plenty to consider…

We will ensure that all of our Impact Tour visits are documented in a similar way and posted on our blog. This will then be shared widely to enable us to create a represented picture of the challenges our community can work towards making impact on in the city.
Thank you again to all our attendees and host HAB Housing – please do get involved, share our blogs from the Impact Tour and give us your feedback.

Over the next few months, the Bristol Impact Tour will be visiting people, projects, spaces and initiatives delivering impact. As part of this tour programme we will be highlighting and promoting the diverse range of social businesses that are having lasting impact on the ‘status quo’ within the the city region. Our intention is to demonstrate a better way, provide new visions of the future while convening communities and discussing how we can collaborate and co-design disruptive business fit for the 21st century.

For further information about what an Impact Hub is – check out this recent blog piece for more information.

We look forward to hopefully seeing you on our next tour visit. Thanks from all the team and to stay updated on all our events keep checking our blog or sign-up to our email newsletter.

However if you cannot make it personally to one of our tour visits please help us by contributing to our enquiry into how an Impact Hub could serve your work by sending us your thoughts to the three questions above.

You can respond in the comments section of this blog.. or you can send us your feedback via email, Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.



Impact Hub Candidate