Cohousing meeting in Oxford

Guest post by Fran Ryan

On Wednesday 23rd June there will be a meeting to explore the idea and possibility of cohousing in and around Oxford. Please join us.

  • Where? Garden Room at Oxford Quaker Meeting House (http://www.oxfordquakers.org)
  • When? Wednesday 23rd June 2010, 7-9pm.
  • How do I book? Email: f@peopleincharge.co.uk (click on 3 blue dots to get full email) or telephone fran on 07889 209448
  • Cost? Admission will be £3 to cover room hire costs.

What is cohousing?

Cohousing has been around in Europe (in particular, in northern European countries such as Denmark) since the 1980s and is just now beginning to emerge as a serious option here in the UK.  The hallmark of cohousing is that, unlike the vast majority of housing developments which prioritise privacy over community,  cohousing is designed to give opportunities for both a healthy communal life AND a private life too. In cohousing developments, each family has its own house/unit and also has access to considerable shared space often in the shape of a common house which houses a large kitchen/diner, workshops, utility space, meeting space, and often in the shape of a common garden/grounds. So when a family buys or rents a house in a cohousing community, it is also buying into/renting the common house and other common assets as well.

A cohousing development is usually designed to maximise the opportunities for people to move around and meet and develop as a community, so cars are often kept to the perimeter of the site. The design ensures that people can chose how much they want to mix or remain private at any particular time.

Cohousing is generally organised around general cooperative and democratic principles rather than any ideological principles (some intentional communities for example might be organised around religious or educational principles). Cohousing is essentially an approach to housing. The development is organised and managed by the group themselves.  The founding members initiate and make it happen and thus decide everything about the design and build of the development.

We are hoping to find a small group of people who would be interested in forming an active group to make things happen in the next two years in or around Oxford. The meeting on 23rd June (http://www.cohousing.org.uk/node/298) is also an opportunity to find out about cohousing and to meet and make links with others who may have similar interests to you. You may wish to form your own group to focus on a different geographical area or with a slightly different emphasis!

Learn More:

The best known and highly successful cohousing development here in UK is at Springhill in Stroud: http://www.therightplace.net/coco/public

There is now a national organisation here in UK where you can also read about other groups across the country in different stages of development.  http://www.cohousing.org.uk

Further Reading:

Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett (1998) ‘Cohousing A contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves’  Ten Speed Press .

Diana Leafe Christian (2003) Creating  a Life Together New Society Publishing

Fran Ryan is a granny who earns her living as a freelance chartered occupational psychologist working in human resources in the private and public sectors.  She has been interested in cooperative housing for many years and is now at the point where she’d like to have another go (last time was in 1980) at getting a project going in Oxford.

She is also (in a completely separate project) interested in using the community land trust mechanism to develop permanently affordable housing across the county and following a housing conference in Oxford (which she facilitated for Oxfordshire County Council) in 2003, she joined with Jock Coats and Tony Crofts to initiate Oxfordshire Community Land Trust. OCLT is now working to build a small development of affordable homes for local people in the Botley area.  (www.oclt.org.uk).

Fran likes low carbon architecture and in 2005, completed a self- built straw bale office in her garden which also serves as OCLT’s office and meeting place.

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