Introducing a Cohousing Project for Gloucestershire
We want to build a sustainable, mutually supportive cohousing community in the
Cheltenham/Tewkesbury/Stroud area. The scheme would be custom designed
around the needs of each of our individual members. We believe that the optimum size would be
around eight to fifteen households. We plan to build a range of apartments, which will make the scheme more suitable for couples and single people than families.
All the homes would be very green with minimal energy costs. They would be highly space-eﬃcient,
as the residents would share many facilities such as a communal meeting/activity room and a
kitchen/dining area for occasional meals together. There might also be shared spaces for work, craft,
leisure and laundry, plus guest rooms and a car share scheme.
The location of the project is important. We want to be close to local amenities
like shops, pubs, GP surgery, etc. Good public transport links would also be vital. This suggests an
urban/town centre location.
The development would enable many of us to ‘right size’ – freeing-up our existing homes for larger
households. By working together as a community to create this development we won’t just build
homes; we’ll build a supportive, integrated, active, and engaged group of neighbours.
We are all willing to invest in good design, good landscaping, quality materials and wider community
benefit. This is not a ‘gated community’. We wish to engage as individuals and as a group with the
surrounding neighbourhood, both contributing to it and welcoming other local people to come and
use some of our facilities. Depending on the eventual site, this might mean that we offer an
attractive events venue for local community groups, or even a community café, gallery
or shared work space.
We believe that the scheme would be a credit to Gloucestershire and would quickly become a
beacon of innovative best practice, attracting visitors from far and wide to see and learn from what
we establish together.
The next steps...
We are keen to develop a strong relationship with local councils who support our objectives. We
would be delighted to meet with housing and planning teams and with interested Council Members to explore how they may be able to help us to identify or secure a suitable plot of land.
What is Cohousing?
Cohousing communities are created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home. The residents also come together to manage the community and they often share spaces and activities; homes built this way help to avoid the isolation many people experience today, recreating the neighbourly
support of the past.
Cohousing groups contribute significantly to the design of their own community and take an active role in creating it. Design is often used to encourage social interaction, for example by keeping cars to the periphery and putting a common house in the centre of the site. Many communities eat together regularly, and so the common house usually provides shared dining as well as leisure space.
Because cohousing schemes provide a range of shared facilities the individual private dwellings are usually smaller. There is also usually communal outside space for gardens, recreation and food growing.
Residents manage their own community, looking after the maintenance and development of it, running the finances, tending the gardens and organising shared activities. The community is typically governed in a non-hierarchical way, often using consensus decision making.
There are several long-established cohousing groups in Gloucestershire, and are many more are now emerging across the UK, having already become an accepted part of people’s living arrangements in Denmark and the USA.
Similar cohousing projects that have already been built
New Ground Cohousing
The residents of New Ground Cohousing scheme in High Barnet, near London, come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. The 25 homes include 11 one-bed, 11 two-bed and 3 three-bed flats, plus a common room, guest room, laundry and attractive gardens. The scheme has won nine design awards.
Phoenix Commons is a 41-home cohousing development in Oakland, San Francisco. Residents own their modest homes while sharing spacious communal areas, including a kitchen, movie room and even a hot tub. The four-storey complex is designed to foster a sense of community.
This group of 30 people have recently completed the building of 23 new homes, a mixture of one and two-bedroom flats and 17 two and three-bedroom houses on a site in Colchester. Shared grounds and a common house are central to the scheme.
Completed in 2019, this award-winning cohousing project in Cambridge provides 42 very low energy homes. The common house includes a large kitchen, lounge, laundry facilities, guest bedrooms, a shared workshop, children’s play room and flexible spaces for meetings and wellbeing classes.
We have drawn together a group of like-minded people who have agreed a shared vision and set of objectives, with innovation, flexibility and adaptability at the heart of our thinking.
The group includes individuals whose professional experience and skills will prove crucial to the success of our project - with practising architects, planners, teachers, writers and artists, plus the founder and former chair of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA).
And we are all very friendly too!