Ambos breaking new ground for community-led development in Falmouth

Transition Falmouth is delighted to highlight Ambos’s visionary project detailed in their Press Release below and wish them every success.

Ambos breaking new ground for community-led development in Falmouth

In an exciting move towards an affordable housing scheme that would fully involve the local Falmouth community in every stage of its design and life, Community-led placemaking group Ambos have submitted a pre-app to Cornwall Council for their first mixed use development. Their proposal is for 20 homes and 6 workspaces designed around the concept of cohousing, all affordable, all for local people, on the site of the Old Smithwick School on Gylly Street/Smithick Hill.

Since Ambos’s conception in 2017, the project has continued to promote community-led place-making in Falmouth and has been site searching to pilot their first project -Falmouth Cohousing No.1 (FalCoN.1)- An affordable cohousing project with workspace for local residents.

Starting as they mean to go on, Ambos have run design workshops with community members, to explore and develop needs, wants and ideas for the site of the Old Smithick School on Gylly Street/Smithick Hill. The outputs from these workshops, as well as the many conversations the group have had with Falmouth stakeholders, have informed their plans.

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The genuine involvement of the local community in the place-making process is commonplace in many parts of Europe and increasingly so in the wider UK. The benefits that are felt, when current and future residents of an area are brought into the design process and have the chance to shape where they live, work and play are significant. From health and wellbeing benefits, to quality of design and build, to the size of the environmental footprint, to the sense of place and purpose it creates, to the delivery of affordable homes in perpetuity – Social Value.

Director of Ambos, Miguel Fernandez:

‘Community-led placemaking has the power to bring the control of development back to the people who it effects the most, Us! Falmouth’s local residents. Let us not continue to let high land prices, stop locals from being able to live in the place they love, let us put our land into a local land trust and deliver the future we want today, together. Others are doing it successfully in projects up and down the country, it’s time for Falmouth to join the movement!’

Ambos were invited by Cornwall Council to present their ideas to Falmouth’s Place -Shaping Board earlier this year, and then, working with Barefoot Architects Ltd, set about designing a scheme for the Smithick Hill site. By submitting a pre-app to Cornwall Council, Ambos are inviting responses to their plans from the wider Falmouth community. They will also get formal feedback from the Council.

Cornwall Council’s housing partners Cornwall Housing Ltd have also submitted a pre-app for a smaller number of affordable homes on part of the same site. Ambos are asking local people to take a look at both pre-app’s and consider which they feel would bring the most for Falmouth.

Ambos member, Anna Gillett:

‘Ambos is about building a trusted network in the place we call home. Our pre-planning application is the first of its kind in Falmouth. For years now we have seen buildings put up to exploit land value and rental prices. This project offers serious social value, uncommon in planning. The ambition is to build resources in people, space and community so we can grow opportunities in a cooperative way that is democratic and transparent. We believe our contribution and ability to thrive should not be decided by financial capacity but a willingness to work and live together. I hope this proposal is received in the spirit it is intended and with a preparedness to do things differently.’

The model of traditional house-building has for decades considered ‘Best Value’ of housing development to be all about the money. Ambos have been promoting a more sensible valuation model, based on the UK Government’s ‘Green Book’ valuation, where the return on Social Value is considered. This model is designed to help Councils and developers understand ‘Best Value’ in the truest sense.

Ambos, along with a growing movement of organisations such as HACT, believe that the amount of Social Value delivered by a housing project, must be factored into decision making around the creation of new communities. Using the ‘Social Value’ calculator tool provided by HACT Ambos have determined that their scheme will deliver significant Social Value for Falmouth, more so than the scheme proposed by Cornwall Housing Ltd and are urging Falmouth residents to take a look for themselves and register their thoughts via Cornwall Councils planning portal.

Miguel Fernandez continues:

‘What makes Ambos unique from the usual state or market driven solution is its commitment to genuine community participation from conception to completion and beyond to operation. We work with the future residents, end users of the space and the wider community to custom build what locals really need. The current system designs behind closed doors with ‘the professionals’ often paying lip service to the idea of community engagement and always falling short of genuine citizen control of the built environment. We want to change the culture from relying on market-led and government-led development to creative community-led solutions, empowering residents to take control of local land and assets and ensuring development delivers what the community needs. Evidence shows genuine citizen control of development delivers far higher quality, affordability is perpetuity and a greater return in social value’.

Ambos are inviting ideas from the local community around what they would like to see happen in and around a future Falmouth. Whether it is another live-work scheme, a community-leisure facility or a rewilding project, Ambos believe that community-led placemaking has the power to bring the control of development back to the people who it effects the most, Us! the local residents. Developers working within the traditional development model only inflate land prices, Ambos’ call to action is for the Falmouth community to put local land into a people’s trust and deliver the future today, together.

The Pre-apps can be found on Cornwall Councils’ website here: PA20/02941/PREAPP | Pre application advice for minor affordable housing development | Land At Gyllyng Street Gyllyng Street Falmouth Cornwall

Cornwall Housing ltd pre-app number: PA20/02941/PREAPP

Ambos’s pre-app documents can be found here: Falcon.1 — Ambos,

Comments for Ambos are welcome here: Contact — Ambos.

Join Ambos here: Join Ambos — Ambos Website:

For press enquiries contact: Miguel Fernandez Tel 01326 311082


Ambos breaking new ground for community-led development in Falmouth — 2 Comments

    • Yes, very exciting, best way to keep up to date is to become a member or get in touch through the website and Ste, our Membership Liaison, will send you details about events and progress. We need more support so if you have any capacity to help, come on board.