Since 2015, TOWN has been working closely with over twenty households to deliver K1 Cohousing, Cambridge’s first cohousing development and one of a handful of new-build cohousing schemes in the UK. We are delighted now to have become the first accredited developer member of UK Cohousing, the organisation at the centre of helping to promote this new way of living.
UK Cohousing (formerly the UK Cohousing Network) was established in 2007. Its mission is to promote awareness of cohousing and to support cohousing groups in delivering new cohousing communities. It is a non-profit, membership organisation.
TOWN is proud to be helping to promote cohousing in the UK. As a model, cohousing communities offer a much-needed alternative to the way new housing is usually delivered. They are places where people know their neighbours, and where residents take responsibility for looking after their community. It’s a model that is starting to make a mark – Springhill in Stroud has attracted widespread acclaim since being built in 2003; while new schemes such as Older Women’s CoHousing in Barnet are living examples of how cohousing provides new and successful ways of building and living.
So how do developers like TOWN fit into the cohousing picture?
There are cohousing groups throughout the country at varying stages of development – but the overwhelming majority are at pre-development stage. These groups face considerable challenges in making their vision a reality: identifying and securing the right site, finding working capital to undertake early feasibility work and ultimately acquire land, preparing a viable financial model, translating ideas into a workable design brief, obtaining planning permission and then building the project out. It’s no surprise that many cohousing projects fail to progress past concept stage and those that do take many years to get there.
Much as with other forms of custom build, enabling developers like TOWN can work alongside cohousing groups to overcome these challenges, providing complementary skills and resources and helping to accelerate the process. Embracing this sort of relationship will, we think, be key to cohousing become more integrated into mainstream housing delivery.
Anna Kear, Executive Director of UK Cohousing, welcomed TOWN to the network, saying “We are delighted that TOWN has joined the UK Cohousing Network to become the first UKCN accredited developer. UKCN are working to make the routes to achieving cohousing easier and having developer partners that understand cohousing and are signed up to our code of conduct to ensure great working relationships with local groups is a big step forward on this journey. UKCN are keen to support custom build solutions which give cohousing groups cost certainty, high environmental standards and bespoke homes to meet their requirements.’