Community Wood Recycling is supporting the campaign to save the Brighton and Hove’s Wood Store. Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project has been operating in the city for 21 years, and is the flagship enterprise for the UK-wide network of 31 wood recycling social enterprise. Founded by Richard Mehmed in 1998, it pioneered the model of collecting waste wood that would otherwise have been sent to landfill, and making it available to the local community as timber for DIY or reclaimed wood products while creating jobs and training opportunities for vulnerable people. It has recently been given until March 31st to leave its main premises, placing the future of the social enterprise in peril unless new space is found.
Under Richard’s leadership the model developed at the project has now been franchised as the Community Wood Recycling network, and has become a leading example of sustainability best practice throughout the country and beyond. The Wood Store has played host to academic and community groups studying how it works from as far afield as Sweden and Taiwan, as well as many from around the UK. Researchers from institutions including the Architectural Association School of Architecture, the University of Norwich and Japan for Sustainability have toured the project and seen how collecting waste wood, selling it to the public, making products and changing the lives of local people can all fit together in one organisation.
Richard Mehmed said
“With over 20 years’ experience, Brighton and Hove’s Wood Store has become a fantastic resource for people all over the world looking to build a circular economy. It’s something the city should be very proud of, and if a lack of affordable premises means it cannot continue in its current form it will be a loss to the people who want to learn how they can save our planet and help people in their local community by visiting the Wood Store.
“This also raises questions about how we want our cities to develop. Here is a business that focuses on helping the environment and changing people’s lives rather than making as much money as possible, but in the face of high commercial rents and property prices and the burden of business rates it is becoming increasingly challenging to operate in a place like Brighton and Hove.”