Cohousing National Conference 2015

Growing Affordable Cohousing in the UK – The Cohousing National Conference, 6th November 2015.

Event Report

Thank you to all 140 who came to the 2015 National Cohousing Conference and to all the event contributors. The energy was palpable through the whole event, with so many different communities from around the UK sharing news and ideas, culminating in the final ‘crowd sourced policy manifesto’ session where together event attendees created together a manifesto of actions needed to make the goal of 100* Cohousing Communities by 2025 achievable. Thanks for all the useful feedback too, we know next time we need to make this event even bigger to accommodate all those who missed out. We are looking forward to it already! Lots of work to do in the meantime starting with the Cohousing Board of Directors reviewing how to deliver and campaign for the manifesto and the small matter of curating the Cohosuing Cookbook and sending out to all attendees.

Scroll down for:

  • Copies of presentations from the workshops and main conference sessions. (attached in a ppt format except Sam Brown’s NaCSBA R&D
  • Vox Pop film where we asked people attending  ‘Why support Cohousing’ and ‘What does the future hold for cohousing’
  • The Cohousing Conference Crowd Source Manifesto.

Vox Pop Films

A Cohousing Conference Crowd Sourced Manifesto

This manifesto is the result of 140 Cohousing supporters at the National Cohousing Conference on 6th Nov 2015, contributing policy ideas that they would like to task the Cohousing Network with progressing and developing to meet the goal of 100 communities by 2025

Typed up here in its raw form to spark discussion and prioritization of actions.

Vision

  • Cohousing is truly accessible for everyone, incorporating a replicable rental model.
  • Target of 100 homes by 2025 is not ambitious enough and should be nearer 10,000’s.
  • First contribution to the target claimed during the conference with the announcement that ‘On the Brink’ in Sheffield is nearing completion.
  • Cohousing is identified as intergenerational and multicultural, celebrating and welcoming diversity from all angles. Message needs to be clear and overt in Cohousing Network publications and activities.
  • Recognise the intent of older generations involved in the cohousing movement to cross subsidise a younger generations housing costs and use this to develop new finance/peer lending models for grass root groups. There are multiple layers of benefits between the generations that can occur as a result.
  • Cohousing is the new normal – rebranded, ‘who wouldn’t want it?’ Also maybe time to be less precious about the brand to widen appeal.
  • Focus in on existing housing stock and retrofit cohousing in existing streets/ blocks of flats to achieve the goal of accessibility.

Required policy change

  • Cohousing needs to be tenure flexible to accommodate need, promoting models like Mutual Home Ownership to lock in assets for future affordability
  • A widespread communication programme is required to explain what cohousing is and what the benefits are for local authority housing and planning departments.
  • Cohousing should be recognised in Local Plans, time for a specific planning class that recognizes the multiple benefits of cohousing?
  • Need new legal lease framework in Scotland that works for senior interests – change law to create cohousing leases beyond 20 years
  • Seek new C5 planning use class for group custom build to stop speculation
  • Communicate health benefits of cohousing and the huge potential to save public money and improve lives with preventive investment
  • Seek to establish a tailored Cohousing Development Investment Bank and ethical development company.

Tools needed to unlock peer knowledge and professional enabling support

  • How to start a Cohousing project route map and practical tips
  • Impact risk assessment tools to evaluate the effect of frequent price changes in projects
  • Maintenance and management evaluation tools
  • Change the image of cohousing to engage younger population
  • Need to significantly ramp up investment in tools available as committed local groups not sufficient change alone.
  • Extensive marketing and awareness campaign required boosting awareness and mobiles enablers to support.

Policy Rationale of Cohousing

  • Access to secure, affordable and well maintained housing is a human right. Housing is not a commodity.
  • Connection to climate change and cohousing and the message that living patterns have to change with urgency.
  • Local living is the fundamental ethical reason behind cohousing, in for example the high values placed on forging meaningful social connections, living lightly on the planet and reducing living costs by sharing resources and time at a neighbourhood level.

Other networks

  • Maintain links with international cohousing groups and movements and extract learning. Particularly European examples of land disposal at a fixed price to enable cohousing development.
  • The Cohousing movement should work with Transition Towns on joint campaign work and shared interests
  • Learn from campaign tactics of citizen’s forums and alliances
  • Community housing models such as cooperatives and development trusts can do more together.
  • Communicate information about Cohousing to other networks like Generation Rent.
  • Develop education partnerships to enthuse and train new generation of architects and professionals about cohousing
  • Engage with the private sector, they are able to unlock finance and resources to enable cohousing to be delivered at scale

Final messages

Cohousing Network should focus on ‘building community ‘ development tools and support as much as finance and housing policy

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