During 2015 and 2016 the Network will be engaging a wide range of people and organisations to raise awareness of the benefits of cohousing to the wider community and to seek to increase the accessibility of the model. We will do this through a number of planned activities in for example:
Awareness and popular support campaign- ‘I/we support Cohousing because…'
Awareness of cohousing is growing but it remains low. There is an urgent need to capture the interest in cohousing and create a clear message about the potential contribution of cohousing and what changes are required to the policy and funding environment. The UK Cohousing Network is launching a national campaign between now and the UK Cohousing Network national conference on Friday 6th November 2015, to create a visible coming together of organisations and people to show support for cohousing. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of cohousing, what it is about and what it has to offer to the big issues of the day.
We are asking you and/or your organisation to send us a pictures and a statement about why you support cohousing, that we can share on this website and facebook to keep the conversation going. All you need to do, is send a picture of you or your organisations logo and a statement of around 50 words to Anna@cohousing.org.uk
We are also working to develop the following policy and project initiatives and welcome your involvement to make these actions a success.
- A call for a Cohousing Commissioning Fund that combines feasibility funding and capital grant into a single fund. This is a long term ask recognising the current governments reluctance to separate funding streams for housing with the exception of the Community Empty Homes Grant and the Specialist Care and Support Fund. The rationale for rolling the two elements of funding together is that projects need a complete financial package and also of the availability of similar funding being a critical success factor in parts of Europe. It is important that the Fund is structured to be accessible, meeting the needs of those with limited resources. Part of the fund should incorporate a unique debt finance package to help fund affordable housing provision. The fund will provide a clear pathway for groups, housing associations and local authorities to champion cohousing.
- Presumption in favour of the disposal of public land and/or property to cohousing organisations at a fixed price. To some extent this could be achieved in the second phase of the proposed Right to Build for self-builders. We think this should be adapted to harness the value of community group led development as opposed to single household interests, where the original subsidy and support is potentially lost in one cycle of ownership with individual households personally financially benefiting at the cost of the tax payer. We are suggesting that the ‘presumption in favour’ should operate eligibility criteria that includes the requirement to provide affordable homes. Cohousing groups offer to local authorities the ideal place making template of creating a sustainable anchor community with in-built stewardship and support. The exact design of the proposed process is to be drafted but it is anticipated that cohousing groups should have a right to instigate a process and force a sale at an agreed fixed price and timescale against an established value for money criteria that recognises social value. Land/property would have to be vacant for more than a year and have no publicly identified proposal to bring back into productive use. The rationale for fixing price and timescale is to enable a group to progress development plans, reduce the risk created by current ambiguous and lengthy public sector disposal programmes and to speed up delivery.
- Senior Retrofit Cohousing Project campaign to showcase the possibilities of creating cohousing in existing sheltered care settings and streets. Most of our housing is already built and vast majority of people will not be able to afford to move into a new build-cohousing project. Encouraging local authorities and housing associations set up senior cohousing communities using existing property to grow the opportunities in the UK is therefore key. We are proposing a national outreach campaign to raise awareness of this option and to develop guidance and support on how to go about the process. (see Operation Plan 2015_17 proposals to create a consultancy brokerage service for cohousing group members and also IPPR’s report on the Generation Strain & Housing Older people).