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What is Cohousing?

Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space.

 

Residents come together to manage their community, share activities, and regularly eat together.

 

Cohousing is a way of resolving the isolation many people experience today, recreating the neighbourly support of the past. This can happen anywhere, in your street or starting a new community using empty homes or building new.

Cohousing communities can be inter-generational, welcoming anyone of any age and any family structure, or specifically to cater for people who are older or are communities of common interest, for example for women or LGBT groups.

The first cohousing communities were built in Denmark in the 1970s. But today there are a smattering across the UK, several of which have inspired our own project. They vary significantly in how they have been shaped and how they function, but some you might have come across include Marmalade Lane in Cambridge, LILAC in Leeds, and Lancaster Cohousing.

Cohousing communities are not communes, nor gated communities. According to the UK Cohousing Network, cohousing communities are formed on the basis of 5 primary principles: 

  • Cohousing is co-designed with intentional communities. 

  • Cohousing includes both the provision of private and common facilities, providing a balance between privacy and community. 

  • The size and scale of cohousing is appropriate to support community dynamics for easy informal communal contact. This is usually between 10-40 households. 

  • Cohousing embeds collective resident control and stewardship into its legal form and decision making. 

  • Cohousing communities are inclusive and part of the wider community. 

You can find out more about the cohousing movement in this country from the UK Cohousing Network. 

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