I lived for a while in the 1970s in a “co-ownership” development. That differed considerably from the concept described in Felicity Sidnel’s guest post on The Story Reading Ape’s blog and at http://cohousing.org.uk/what-cohousing. It did mean that residents had to communicate because they were jointly responsible for maintenance.
I also recall the co-operative Giroscope in Hull (http://self-help-housing.org/case-studies/case-study-1/) which employed previously unemployed workers to renovate dilapidated houses for their own use.
All private housing developments in Ireland include public spaces and care and maintenance of these is the responsibility of a residents’ association rather than the local authority as would be the case in the UK.
Judging by the contents of the website I linked to above, Co-Housing is a growing trend in the UK. Both the UK and Ireland need more housing to meet increasing demand. And there needs to be a lot more affordable housing. How far initiatives like this can go towards solving the problem remains to be seen. The same difficulties – planning controls, funding – have to be overcome.
In this age of immediate connections though the ubiquitous i-phone, Facebook and other media, many people still long for “real community”.
A documentary on the radio today investigated co-housing, an experiment in community living. There are hundreds of projects currently up and running in North America. The particular subject of this programme, was the Harbourside Co-housing for Seniors, in Sooke British Columbia. Denmark first developed this concept in the 1960’s, but now there are many projects of different longevities, and more currently in development, in Europe, the UK, New Zealand, USA and Canada, among others.
Are these the descendants of the nineteenth century Utopian dreams that so often ended in disaster if they got beyond the pages of a book? The founders and members of the co-housing movement are careful to address practicalities. So far they seem to be remarkably successful, proceeding through a long and careful preparation period which…
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