Cohousing is a way of living which brings individuals and families together in groups to share common aims and activities while also enjoying their own self-contained accommodation and personal space.
Cohousing communities are a means of compensating for the alienating effects of modern life where neighbours don't recognise each other and where day-to-day collaboration is minimal. They offer particular benefits for children in terms of secure play-space and shared activities with their peers. Older people can also find companionship and mutual support in such communities.
The main features of cohousing communities are:
- They are set up and run by their members for mutual benefit
- Members are consciously committed to living as a community
- Developments are designed to encourage social contact and a sense of neighbourhood among members.
- Common space facilitates shared activities like community meals and other amenities like laundries, heating systems, guest rooms, transport, etc may be shared
Cohousing in the UK
There is a rapidly-growing UK interest in cohousing - take a look at our map of UK projects. There are an increasing number of groups seeking sites and many individuals seeking a group to join. There are ten fully-established cohousing communities in the UK, some having started up in the late 60s and established by 1970 before the word 'cohousing' was in use: Postlip in the Cotswolds, the Community Project, in Laughton near Lewes, Thundercliffe Grange near Rotherham, Trelay Farm in Cornwall, Canon Frome in Wiltshire, Springhill in Stroud, and the Threshold Centre in Dorset. Smaller cohousing schemes include Stroud Co-flats, Frankleigh co-flats and The Courtyards near Bradford upon Avon. All are based on owner-occupation, although the Stroud community has three shared ownership units. It is difficult to pin down the exact number of groups as they are constantly in flux. We estimate there are 25 - 30 forming groups currently functioning, with another tier of up to 60 loose coalitions interested in cohousing.
To find out more:
The UK Cohousing Network website is a repository of information from many people. When reading an article, note whether it has an author beneath the title. If it does, that piece is the author's own views. This site hopes to encourage the sharing of as many viewpoints as possible so we can support each other in developing cohousing. But note that only un-named articles can be attributed to the UK Cohousing Network.
Springhill photo © Alexander Caminada.