Co-operative home ownership : new directions in housing

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I've just set up a Project to explore the idea of a shared equity property co-operative and looking for collaborators.

With an ageing population (anyone else noticed the reluctance of many people to talk about this?) and the rising impact this brings to the health service, as well as a variety of studies focusing on the impact of loneliness, the time is right to consider what the future of housing might look like, building sustainable communities that tackle the problems of isolation and put the concept of community firmly back on the agenda.

As some of you may know, my prospective property purchase (a flat and shop in Hay on Wye) fell through last month because of complications with the paperwork and time pressure from the vendor. Having broadened my search parameters online to properties in various locations, usually away from the more expensive south east, I’ve reached the conclusion that there’s very little out there that appeals at the moment with the amount I have to spend as a cash buyer.

So I have decided to explore the idea of a shared equity co-operative and have created a Project on Campfire to look for collaborators. The idea would be to buy with (ideally) one or two more people, ideally putting in a similar amount cash each (though this can be flexible and doesn't have to be an equal amount), which would give us collective access to much more interesting and flexible properties, ideally something which already has income or potential income or a smallholding or farm with outbuildings. It might be a space where we can foster creativity through thinkshop/workshops, potential Campfire-related courses and learning opportunities, and (of course!) put on small events too, without having to do a lot of repair / structural work. Geographically I’d be interested in Dorset, Somerset, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Welsh borders as first priorities, rural or small town rather than city, fresh air and countryside accessible (I'm attracted to places such as Frome, Hay, Lewes as examples). But would consider other locations with relatively quick access to central England and London.

A superfast broadband connection is a priority although it doesn’t always sit well with the rural location idea. A happy medium is probably the optimum, at least until this country's government gets its finger out in regard to good internet access for all.

I've started a list of other essentials and priorities and would be happy to chat with anyone who is interested and might have similar ideas. It's about balancing the idea of living collectively with adequate personal space and privacy. This isn't about cheap rent, housing co-ops or communes; it's more to do with modern-day solutions : practical, ecological, progressive ways of making a more exciting living space work for a few of us, sharing and pooling creative ideas, dividing up areas of responsibility and working out flexible but sensible agreements should anyone wish to opt-out. 

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Suzi Glantz

Sounds a great idea Pete - I've looked into similar ideas over the past few years! Have my own views on it of course and would love to discuss it further. As you know I've been looking for land to either share or just build on myself. However, the cost is prohibitive. You mention the sum of £300,000 - my budget only stretches to maximum £170,000. so unless your figure is much more flexible or more people come on board it might not be a possibility for me. xx

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Pete Lawrence

Yes, totally flexible @Suzi Glantz That was a rough estimate of my own input but they don't have to be equal. Would love to discuss it more - must organise a trip to Malvern.

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Suzi Glantz

Great! Let's talk further S

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Suzi Glantz

Great @pete lawrence-admin (pete-admin)! Let's talk sx

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Suzi Glantz

Is this the sort of property you're thinking of?

https://www.rbbproperty.co.uk/properties/hay-on-wye-property/detached-5-...

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Suzi Glantz

Is this the sort of property you're thinking of?

https://www.rbbproperty.co.uk/properties/hay-on-wye-property/detached-5-...

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Pete Lawrence

Yes, was initially thinking of a higher budget, which would gain more space if bought collectively. Worth a chat (and maybe a viewing too)

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Suzi Glantz

Check out the other one higher up the page too! I'm up for some viewings. Did check out Dorset which is a county I really love but would definitely need much higher budget there!
I'm up for some viewings - when were you thinking? Any other interest so far other than myself? x

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Ralph Pettingill

Hi Pete- I envy you this project- it just happens not to be in my part of the country at the moment. In terms of ideas, it might be worth looking at the Lancaster Co-housing project. I know folk who live there and have also visited. Have a look at their website (and even go for a visit. They bring together several of the elements that you're interested in , including a shared work space housing local projects and initiatives, linking them with their local community. They commissioned the project as a whole and it's about as eco friendly as you could imagine. http://www.lancastercohousing.org.uk

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Elizabeth Meres

I am have been looking into co-operative housing for several years and am hoping to get a project off the ground near Hay-on-Wye. I would love to live in a co-operative and caring community. Bringing up my daughter as a sole parent with very little support has been isolating, and a recent serious illness made me realise how vulnerable we were. Unfortunately I have no capital to purchase any land and many of the people that I know that would be interested are in a similar situation. In my view housing should not just be for those that can afford it, but a community resource, with equality paramount. In Wales we have several One Planet developments, which are sustainable and low impact, but have previously only been possible if you have capital to invest. Very few of the co-operative housing initiatives have equality of access regardless of financial situation and there are few opportunities to rent. I'm looking into community land trusts as a way forward and am trying to get hold of public land or cheap land with no planning so that we can help meet local needs. I'd love to hear from anyone who has any expertise on this, or any ideas.

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