An update from ChaCo Cohousing’s build in Leeds

ChaCo continues to reach for the finishing line – or should that be the starting line? Whatever it is, it tends to back away whenever it sees us coming: instead of the official February 2022 date mentioned in the contract, our builders are now predicting the end of May 2022 for completion. After 12 years, we ought to be able to cope with a few extra months delay but now we just want this marathon to be over.

Interestingly, Chapeltown house prices have been rising faster than almost anywhere else in the country. This has prompted us to revisit our financial model and, counter-intuitively, it looks like we might now be able to reduce all our rents to social rent levels – which is very exciting. Making this project genuinely affordable for renters and part-owners alike has always been a challenge, and if we can make this work here it’s bound to attract attention from other community-led housing groups. Watch this space!

We had an interesting time picking our front door colours. We didn’t have time to do a full consensus decision on this, but we asked people to say whether they preferred:
• everyone being able to pick their own front door colour.
• an overall colour scheme.
• leaving it to the architect.
In the end we decided that a coherent colour scheme would probably be more attractive than leaving it up to individual choice – and so we now have a repeating rainbow sequence of doors along the main terrace. Our LGBT+ members are particularly excited about this, most of the rest of us can live with it, and one member is saying she might repaint hers black after we move in. But it’s a really good sign that we were able to reach a decision on such a potentially emotive issue without falling out. It’s an indication of how far we’ve come in the last twelve years.

We’re really looking forward to being able to meet up (and eat up) in our common house. It’s hard keeping us all together when so much is now Zoom-dependent. Back in the summer we were able to meet up in the park, but now the weather and Covid make socials a lot trickier to manage.


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