In 2001 Alison Roberts and Paul Northam set out with a small deposit and big dreams… and no idea what they were getting themselves into.

The purchase of 2 Hamilton Street was essentially an act of spite. It was the first of many acts of spite. Spite towards the local council and the government’s Pathfinder Scheme, which a handful of local authorities* were abusing by artificially creating a localised housing market collapse in order to block-clear entire neighbourhoods and sell the land to private developers at a huge profit; the resulting social cleansing being the icing on the cake.

Alison: It happened by accident. We only set out to find a renovation project, but an idle enquiry as to who owned the sad little abandoned house with the green security shutters, which was intended only to distract the council official from the fact that I’d installed the wrong coloured down-pipe on the back of the large derelict Victorian house we were attempting to bring back to life, led to a revelation about how Pathfinder was being abused.
“Who owns that eye-sore?”
“Why? Are you interested? It’s ours. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s an application for demolition, but it’s sound. It’ll be a few more years until we can sign that one off, then Douglas Street will go with it.”

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My findings inspired Trevor MacDonald was to make this documentary

We didn’t really have the time or money to take on anything else, but I like a challenge, and when my research revealed how little the city council was paying for the homes they’d compulsariliy purchased for demolition, I realised that not only could we save the little green-shuttered house, but we could potentially save an entire street from demolition… so we did. And it felt good. And depite being told by the council that “there’s no demand for 2-bedroom houses” (yes, really) we found we had a queue of prospective tenants quite literally knocking on the door as they saw us working.

And so it began.

Twenty-two years, 27 houses, three entire streets and 700+ tenants on, we’re still here.