At one level the members of ‘On The Brink’, a newish co-housing group in Sheffield, don’t want anything too complicated. We just want a handy place to live in collaboration with other people with whom we share a number of common ideals and values – easy.
Bringing this about isn’t proving to be quite so simple and at this moment we just don’t know if we have acquired the lovely property in spacious grounds that we have been dreaming and planning about for many months – or if our hopes will be dashed and we will have to start all over again… more meetings, more dreams, more searching for land and further attempts to slot together all the other pieces of the elusive jigsaw.
Setting up a cohousing project has sometimes been described as a roller coaster, perhaps it is more like a game of snakes and ladders? There are certainly snakes involved. It has proved impossible to get the truth out of owners of the land that we want to purchase. Are we bidding against others – or have potential competitors been invented by the agent to push us into offering more than we can afford?
Other things we have learnt:
- It costs £1,000 for an initial chat with an accountant
- Not everyone can have a unit on the South facing side of the building
- Badgers (in the areas where they are not being culled) have rights
- Trees have rights
- Local interest groups want to keep everything just as they imagine it might have been in 1950
- One bunch of planners don’t always agree with another bunch of planners
- Getting the right amount of money for purchase and construction available at the right time almost certainly involves parting with even more money
- Good humour, shared values and shared cake will almost certainly triumph in the long run
Tom Heller (Member of On The Brink)