UK Cohousing Network Newsletter March 2021

Dear Cohousing Friends,

Spring is almost here and there is light at the end of the tunnel that is the COVID lock-downs. The good news for cohousing groups across the country is that there are some solid funding commitments from central government for the housing sector – and some are specifically targetted at cohousing groups.

So far £4m in revenue funding has been promised through the Community Housing Fund available from April for one year for groups seeking to build community led homes to get “over the line” on their development plans. The fund is set to be managed by Community Led Homes partners Locality (and Groundwork. Full details will be shared once we have them. We believe competition will be fierce as it is well below the £20 million+ the Community Led Homes partners asked for to serve the 23,000 homes in the pipeline.  We believe it is likely to focus on those groups nearest to getting over the line on developments within the next year or so.  We hope to build the case for further funding.

For cohousing groups considering affordable housing as part of their developments, it is worth noting the £12.2 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) to deliver up to 180,000 new homes for affordable homeownership and rent (with the greater proportion to be constructed outside of London).

Also keep in mind the £2.2bn of new loan finance is to be made available to support housebuilders across the country. This includes delivering Help to Build for custom and self-builders and funding for SMEs and modern methods of construction which will present a new opportunity for some of your projects.

For local advice in your area, don’t forget to connect with your local advice hub in the first instance to get the local support needed to make successful applications.

In other news, we had a fantastic Cohousing Café session as part of the Breaking Ground Festival invited by organiser Paul Kelly of Safer Regeneration. The stellar line up included Frances Wright (Marmalade Lane Cohousing), Chris Coates (Forgebank Cohousing), Jude Tisdall (New Ground Cohousing) and with a cameo appearance from Maria Brenton (OWCH)! 

One idea that surfaced during the session from the audience was a suggestion that it might be possible to take an existing terrace street not in use in the city and retrofit a cohousing community into it – sharing back gardens and setting up one or more of the houses in the street as a common house. There was a great spirit of creativity at the event and the idea reminded me of N-Street Cohousing in the United States, or even the renovation of a Victorian terrace in Salford at Chimney Pot Park –  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What is clear to me is that we have only scratched the surface of the potential for cohousing in the UK. I’m really looking forward to a whole host of innovations around affordability, new designs, retrofitting in city centres and fundraising.

We are putting the finishing touches on the new website and membership offer which will be including access to the new Cohousing Guide. In response to your feedback from the membership survey ad through our cohousing café discussions, we are seeking to make the focus for 2021 far more about building a movement together rather than a transactional membership offer. We are seeking new ways and new programmes that provide a format for exchanging ideas, good practice and opportunities across the country. More to follow!


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