Val Holden FRSA
Rooftop community visit Learning new skills Val digs for Cumbria Shaun Williamson - stonemason

Welcome to Ædifico Cumbria

(Ædifico: Eye–diffy–co. Latin: I improve, build up. Derivative “edifice”).

Thank you for visiting. Let's make places special together

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Picture: Community Land Trust meeting with award-winning architect Gemma Wheeler, 3rd from right.

Welcome to Aedifico Cumbria. I'm Valerie Holden. I graduated in law, with honours and in Environmental Management Systems and Citizen Engagement with distinction. I've worked with Groundwork UK and as a Regeneration Programme Manager in Local Government, then in 2011 was invited to become and RSA Fellow. Probably more important than all that is that social injustice makes me furious.

My mission is to help you create your own prosperity and security through great community-led housing projects...that lead to more great projects by:

pooling potential in your chosen community...getting more control over your living place...making good decisions...developing open relationships with decision-makers

I believe that in any group of people there is wealth. The wealth that is the earning power or the contribution individuals can bring to a group. The housing situation can seem hopeless for many, but with the right information and support, a group of citizens can draw on the wealth that is their future potential, their tenacity and their solid core values.

People who can compete in the housing market and find homes for themselves reduce stress, ease financial worries and access opportunities for fulfilment previously denied to them. Research has shown that people who are living in homes they can afford i.e. that cost less than 50% of their income, and which offer comfort security and facilities to live fulfilled lives, live longer and enjoy better physical and mental health.

For Aedifico, working with what is already there is essential; this can mean finding and using individual stregnths, bringing together key organisations in communities: jobseekers, planners, designers and eco-managers to develop and deliver built assets that communities can enjoy, that train jobseekers in traditional skills, that bring stakeholders' ideas into the design process. Groups of people can discover, research and then approach Government and Non-Government Organisations, philanthropists, businesses and third sector groups. You can plan your own professional support once you know what to look for and how to organise your ideas.

A group need not be daunted by complex solutions; they take a little while and a few aspirins longer. You can embrace rewilding, heritage and innovation "Complexity is a planning goal in and of itself" (Hollings, Crawford S and Michael A Goldberg 1971 Ecology and Planning JAPA Jul 71 p221)

My values

I stand by value for money, quality materials, quality in design and concern for the local and global environment. Aedifico Cumbria underpins all activities with principles of resource sustainability. Any structure needs to use resources that are replaceable, reusable and recyclable. Climate Change is on the agenda; fossil fuels stay in the ground as far as possible.

"Traditional skills, methods of construction and materials are by their very nature sustainable. Tradition is not about style; it is about learning from the best of what has gone before. It is something infinitely varied, infinitely adaptable, infinitely changing. People's needs, after all, have not changed so very much over the centuries." HRH The Prince of Wales, One Big Room 2005.

"there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his works" John Ruskin ram

As volunteer Founder and secretary of Homes for Ulverston, or H4US, a Community Land Trust in Cumbria. I'm hosting the H4US website for a while to assist our networking capability.

There's info and discussion at and click on the Community tab above to see more about this.

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Housing need is a matter of urgency, so right now the group is concentrating on homes that are truly affordable i.e minus the developer profit. Communities providing and managing for themselves the facilities that make life sing adds value to physical and mental wellbeing as well as the local economy. People can craft their own living space and grow their own prosperity. I've learnt a lot about involving whole communities from core values to completion and adding value by linking into available design, heritage and biodiversity support.

What makes a place to live a GOOD place to live? Arguably, it's comfort. Not just a home that's secure and protects us from the elements, but the feeling that we can afford to put a little by for life's extra expenses, that we can live our way and that we can feel that we're as good as anybody. Should these be ambitions or rights? Is it really so hard to make good homes, care and enrichment for the people we share our lives with a reality?

It's rewarding to work with team of creative and caring local residents. They decided to create their own solutions to help themselves and/or other people in need of a truly low-cost home. By using sound business principles to underpin housing development, we aim to provide homes minus the developer profit. While collaborating with groups to design living spaces, we look to the future; our changing needs and the challenges to our environment. I'm researching as I work, concentrating on minimal environmental impact and wellbeing. More about Community Land Trusts: and at

Aedifico Cumbria's role is to find the group members, build the group, hold the group together, extend ideas, enable enrichment i.e. in heritage, design, training, sustainability and provide information and support to help informed decision-making.