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Cohousing TCPA Roundtable March 6 th 2009 Sarah Berger

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1 Cohousing TCPA Roundtable March 6 th 2009 Sarah Berger

2 What is cohousing? A way of living consciously as a community-centered neighbourhood, which brings individuals and families together in neighbourly groups to share common aims and activities while also enjoying their own self- contained accommodation and personal space

3 Springhill cohousing

4 Community Project, UK (former hospital)‏

5 Cohousing communities are based on the following features ➲ Intentionality – set up and run by their members for mutual benefit ➲ Members live consciously as a community ➲ Designed for maximum communal contact ➲ Managed and controlled by their members Size and scale to maximise community dynamics ➲ Common house facilitates shared activities like communal meals

6 Common house meal at the Community Project, UK

7 History ➲ Started in Denmark in 1960s. Now hundreds in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands & Belgium ➲ In Europe - a well established way to provide affordable housing within mixed- tenure developments ➲ USA & Canada– 120 exist & 50 more planned ➲ A sprinkling in Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Italy

8 Centralwoning senior cohousing, Holland

9 Cohousing USA

10 2 types of cohousing - intergenerational and senior ➲ Intergenerational cohousing where older people and families live side by side ➲ A community for people from 50 years and above. They control and manage their own lives together & keep active & healthy for as long as possible

11 The Community Project, UK

12 Silver Sage, senior cohousing USA

13 3 major benefits ➲ Sustainability through shared resources e.g. car pooling, sustainable energy systems and shared shopping ➲ Community through creating a traditional neighbourhood, safe environment and common ownership & values. New opportunities & shared activities e.g. choir, dance club, exercise class, maths coaching, jogging ➲ Affordability – shared facilities mean individual units can be smaller & more affordable

14 Benefits Desig ned for blend of privacy and active neighbourliness. Enables : ➲ Interaction with neighbours- a sense of belonging, identity & accountability are ingredients of the good life ➲ Shared childcare for families and companionship and support for older people ➲ New opportunities & skills exchange, shared activities & shared responsibility Example: Laughton Lodge has polytunnel club, vegetable club, horse club, dry goods shop, children's summer holiday programme, annual cycle trip to France ➲

15 Benefits of the common house ➲ Share meals, have parties, film shows, play readings, band practice, concerts, workshops, exercise classes - and provide benefit to wider community too ➲ May include dining room, play room, tool pool, hall, laundry, music room, games room ➲ Office space – avoids commuting & gives better work- life balance. Facilitates economic & social benefits of business networking

16 Springhill Cooking in the common house

17 Quotes “I've got play readings, concerts and films on my doorstep. Above all I love acting in the cabaret” “The whole family have participated in activities organized by others – walks, cycle rides, camping trips and outings. I could never get them to get off the sofa before we lived here.” “When I came back with the news (breast cancer diagnosis) within 2 minutes 6 women were in my sitting room opening the brandy. There were offers from people to stay the night, a rota to take me to chemotherapy, a rota for bringing me soup – it was amazing”

18 Judging snow sculptures at Laughton

19 Cohousing can halve energy use ➲ 60% less energy consumed in home ➲ Car-sharing and recycling schemes ➲ Communal office spaces, workshops, gym & social activities reduces travel ➲ Lower consumption including energy, land, goods and waste ➲ Average savings: 31% in space 57% in electricity 8% in goods

20 References G Meltzer, Cohousing – A Carbon Reduction Strategy, 2008 CIFA, Findhorn J. Williams, Sun, surf and sustainability—comparison of the cohousing experience in California and the UK, International Planning, Studies Journal 10 (2) (2008)‏ C Durrett, Senior cohousing- A Community Approach to Independent Living, Habitat Press, 2005 D. Fromm, Collaborative Communities: Cohousing, Central Living and Other Forms of Housing with Shared Facilities, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1991.

21 How cohousing meets policy priorities Such as in CLG's 'Housing in an Ageing Society Strategy' & 'Communities in Control' & Defra's Framework for pro-environmental Behaviours : ➲ reduction in carbon emissions ➲ active tenant participation ➲ empowering communities ➲ community cohesion ➲ environmental sustainability ➲ wellbeing agenda ➲ Public Service Agreements (PSA) targets

22 UK Situation ➲ 8 established cohousng communities in UK ➲ 30+ groups looking for sites & 50 loose coalitions ➲ Many individuals looking for groups to join ➲ Searching for viable model for mixed tenure or low- cost home ownership ➲ Seeking partnerships with RSLs & developers to pilot mixed tenure cohousing schemes

23 Obstacles Many groups struggling & disband after 3 years Land prices – single biggest barrier Lack of capacity within groups Difficulty in finding Housing Association partners Planning barriers- exceptions may be needed or sustainable, low impact, mixed-use resident- led developments

24 What is needed ?  Support from local authorities & housing sector ➲ Planning policy exceptions for sustainable, low-impact, mixed use, resident-led neighbourhoods like cohousing ➲ identifying land for resident-led initiatives in wider spatial /housing development strategies ➲ promotion of new community-focused neighbourhoods within mainstream housing development models

25 What is needed... continued  Social housing grants & development loans ➲ Resources for capacity building among cohousing groups ➲ Pioneers - developers and RSLs to partner with


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