Brighton hedgehog houses from Grand Designs

The Hedgehog homes community self-build in Brighton

Brighton's pioneering Hedgehog homes featured in the first ever series of Grand Designs

By Victoria Purcell | 3 August 2020

Back in 1999, Kevin McCloud met a co-operative of 10 families, including former travellers and single parents, who clubbed together to build their own eco-friendly Hedgehog housing in Brighton.

Featured in the first series of Grand Designs in 1999, McCloud described the Brighton Hedgehog Co-op at Hogs Edge, Bevendean, as ‘the ultimate in building democracy’.

The self-build project was funded by Brighton Borough Council and the (then) South London Family Housing Association at a build cost of just £60,000 each. But instead of buying the properties, the deal was that every household would contribute 30 hours of labour per week to the project.

Brighton hedgehog housing featured in the first series of Grand Designs in 1999

Photo: Grand Designs

Based on architect Walter Segal’s pioneering model of homes that could be constructed by novices, the Brighton Hedgehog housing scheme took two years to build. The timber-framed homes were designed by Robin Hillier and constructed under the watchful expertise of Geoff Stow, a Segal veteran who provided technical support.

The project is often cited as one of Kevin McCloud’s favourite Grand Designs projects. ‘If Grand Designs represents anything,’ he says, ‘it’s that a house isn’t just a building; it’s an ideal, a dream. These people united to put a roof over their heads, and built a community and future.’

The hedgehog housing in Brighton is located at Hogs Edge, Bevendean

Photo: Grand Designs

In a column for Grand Designs magazine, McCloud wrote of the scheme: ‘Of all the films we have made, that is the one of which I am most proud. Partly this is because we were able to explore the principles of true affordability and sweat equity, where people on the social-housing waiting list were able to toil to build their own homes in return for an assured tenancy and a reduced rent.