Vintage Green Co-Housing Project

 

News

April 2019

 

 The Local Developement Plan review is taking place this year. www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/local-development-plan-review and I have visited some of the proposed sites in Llandissilio and Clunderwen. They are away from the main road and generally south facing with pleasant rural views.( More sites listed under Candidate Sites, including Goodwick and Cillgerran)

 

Although the sites wouldn't be finally decided upon until this autumn and the LDP review doesn't get published till 1921. It is a good opportunity an influence the planners decision.

 

Principles of Community Involvement
3.7 The Council has identified some basic principles for community involvement. All consultation will be carried out with these principles in mind.
A culture of engagement - People should know that they are welcome to take part in the planning process and that decision makers are really interested in their views.
Frontloading - The community and stakeholders should be involved from the earliest stages of plan preparation.
 
We still have a substantial amount of funding available from Arwain/LEADER. This money is to cover costs of visiting cohousing communities in the UK.(I have visited LILAC in Leeds, Halton Mill, Lancaster and Threshold in Dorset; all very different with various financial models and inspiring, beautiful buildings and people.)
We also have funding for training in Non Violent Communication, Consensus Decision Making and we have books available, purchased through the funding, about cohousing, community building and eco-housing etc.
I have been to a couple of meetings recently about Community Led Housing. One organised by Jo Wigmore Rees, the Community Land Trust Officer which was held at County Hall Haverfordwest. www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/.
 
I also attended a meeting in Kidwelly of the South West Wales Cooperative Community Led Housing Network where I learnt of a proposed project supported by the local council in Llandovery, combining One Planet Developement ( www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk) , cooperative and cohousing models, and a Cohousing Project Officer being advertised for in Powys.
So things are certainly moving forward. It would be a shame if we miss out on this. Please don't let this opportunity go by, the funding is available till 31st July.

January 2019

 I attended a Community-led Housing Think Tank at Trafford Hall near Chester at the end of January. . There were 55 attendees with discussions chaired by Blasé Lambert CO of Confederation of Co-operative Housing,(who has attended meetings with CHL in Pembrokeshire) Tom Chance Director of National Community Land Trust Network et al. Although it was mainly focused on the Government’s Community Housing Fund which doesn’t cover Wales, it was a very useful experience.ill Milligan and I attended a Community-led Housing Think Tank at Trafford Hall near Chester at the end of January. . There were 55 attendees with discussions chaired by Blasé Lambert CO of Confederation of Co-operative Housing,(who has attended meetings with CHL in Pembrokeshire) Tom Chance Director of National Community Land Trust Network et al. Although it was mainly focused on the Government’s Community Housing Fund which doesn’t cover Wales, it was a very useful experience.ill Milligan and I attended a Community-led Housing Think Tank at Trafford Hall near Chester at the end of January. . There were 55 attendees with discussions chaired by Blasé Lambert CO of Confederation of Co-operative Housing,(who has attended meetings with CHL in Pembrokeshire) Tom Chance Director of National Community Land Trust Network et al. Although it was mainly focused on the Government’s Community Housing Fund which doesn’t cover Wales, it was a very useful experience.

We are meeting in the Seminar Room in the Bloomfield Centre Narberth at 7.30pm Tuesday 8th January. Eleanor will be giving a presentation on Cohousing Hafan Las. We are hoping to attract new members.

We will be looking for a new site. We still have funding from the Leadership fund to promote our project

 

January/ February 2018

We are still waiting to see which housing association the county council will offer the site to. I hope the housing association will then contact us. Jan who has put a tremendous amount of hard work into the group has decided to leave. Cohousing Hafan Las needs support and new members, so please spread the word.

View of the common house designed for the site at Brodog Lane Fishguard by Pat Borer award winning architect from the Centre of Alternative Technology.

What the site might look like

November/ December 2017

Pembrokeshire Count Council called in the final bids for the site for January 31st 2017. We found out that 2 housing associations Wales and West and Pembrokeshire were bidding for the site. We contacted them to see if they were interested in working in partnership with us.

September/October 2017

Pat Borer architectWe have been very busy over the past couple of months. In September, we had a visit from Blase Lambert who works with the Wales Co-op Centre. He came to show us how we can factor in different input costs for our cohousing project to give us options to work out flat or house prices, and understand the 30-year business model. This will help us to move forward on a firm financial footing.

In early October we gave a presentation to Fishguard Town Council about Cohousing Hafan Las. There was a good turn out and a lot of interest and questions. Later that week we had a day with the architect Pat Borer, from the Centre of Alternative Technology, who came to see the site in Fishgaurd with us, and gave us a presentation of his ideas for the site which has given us a lot of food for thought.

We have had further discussions with Pembs County Council Housing and Social Services departments. Although we have done a lot of research and presented them with some powerful arguments in favour of the beneficial effect of living in cohousing they want statistical evidence, so back to the drawing board.

Threshold Cohousing forest garden plantingTowards the end of October we went to visit Threshold Cohousing Community in Dorset. It was a gardening weekend, which included a brief introduction to Permaculture by Stephen Nutt, and plenty of Q&A sessions about cohousing as well as the work outside in the garden. We prepared the ground for a forest garden and planted some fruit trees. We learnt a lot Threshold about how the community was setup, and how currently managed by the residents, and also had lots of opportunity to chat to other visitors about their own developing cohousing projects, or their wish to be part of one.

The food was wonderful and plentiful, with the vegetables coming mainly from the beautifully maintained garden and polytunnel. Threshold is partly owned by a local housing association and provides affordable housing to rent and buy.

Both the architect's visit and our travel and stay in Threshold were paid from the LEADER Fund.

August 2017

Good news this month, we have secured the LEADER funding from PLANED. From September to July next year, we will be organising various activities, as outlined in July's news. September will see us purchasing some books on cohousing, site design and low-impact living, and subscribing to Green Building e-zine - all of these will help us increase our knowledge in order to deliver this project. We will be deciding which architect to bring in to work with us on an indicative layout and produce some sketches, and visiting LILAC cohousing in Leeds for their open day on Affordability.

Arwain Sir Benfro Welsh Gov EU logos

July 2017

We have been really busy this month; we put in a funding application with PLANED for the LEADER fund. We will hear sometime in August whether we have got it. It will cover expenses for visits to other communities, training in Non Violent Communication(NVC) and Consensus Decision making (CDM), pre-planning application, site designs and brochures etc.

We also put in a research paper on the benefits of cohousing to the head of properties, hoping the county council may be pursuaded to offer us a deal under the Community Asset Transfer for the site in Fishguard.

We had a meeting for new people interested in learning more about Cohousing Hafan Las in the Royal Oak in Fishguard on Wednesday 19th July at 7pm. Unfortunately it wasn't the sunny evening we had hoped for. We did sit in the garden, but only because it was very busy and noisy inside. It was a small group and one new person came along. We will try and organise another event in September.

June 2017

I went to the Festival of Housing Justice at the Cente of Alternative Technology(CAT), Machynlleth June 8th -11th. There were talks, twmpaths, good food and a very wet camp site. I met Pat Bora the architect at CAT; the houses there have mainly been built using the Segal method which requires minimal training. They are built on stilts, they don't need foundations or machinery to level the ground. They are light, modular with flat roofs and fixed together with screws. His latest design was the Shepherds theatre a lecture room and student accomadation. It is all built with limecrete including the foundations.It's a beautiful light and spacious building.

The site has matured and I enjoyed exploring the walkways which have recently been built with a striking view over a long abandoned massive quarry. Ellie

May 2017

On Saturday 13th May we joined a minibus day trip organised by PLANED to attend Springhill Cohousing open day. We were hoping a few councillors would join, but unfortunately, besides newly elected Cllr. Chris Tomos, none came.
Springhill was built in 2003 in the centre of Stroud and designed by Architype architects There are 35 Houses on the site and 76 people with an age range from young children to 80 years. It is a beautiful site this time of year with lush gardens and south facing balconies. Although they don’t have car sharing scheme all the cars are parked at the entrance to the site, so the streets are pedestrian only. They think it’s an advantage being an urban community and having lots of contact with town. They have plenty of activities in the common house including: an annual pantomime, cinema, art and crafts, games, yoga and singing, to which friends in the town are invited. People have to cook once a month whether they eat in the common house or not. Cooking together is a very important cement in the community. They also do 20 hours labour a year in a work group outside (or equivalent jobs inside eg. accounting).

We were shown around 2 houses and a flat. The houses and flats which vary from 1-4 bedroom are quite large and not cheap; they didn’t stick to a standard model and this increased the price. Although the windows are all triple glazed, the thickness of the insulation was reduced to cut building costs. All the buildings have gas central heating and some have woodburners. The owner of one 4 bedroomed house which we were shown around said it was cold in winter. Ground rent is £30 per month, this includes house insurance, maintenance of the common house and lifts.
If a flat is up for sale it is offered first to the community and people outside who have expressed an interest, then it goes on open market. People have to agree to the residents’ association articles. It is up to a person to decide whether they want to join, there is no formal process.

 

April 2017

Fishguard Site - view from fieldWe have found a potential site for our cohousing community. Previouusly an Infants School, the site consists of a set of buildings with tarmac playground and car parking, and a sloping “field” behind. It has houses all round, but is not significantly overlooked.

We have visited it several times and really like the site. It is in a quiet part of Fishguard town and has easy access to many facilities - schools, shops, cafes, theatre, leisure centre and doctors’ surgery. The sea and coastal footpath are a short walk away. There are good transport links – with regular buses, trains and ferries. With a nursery and both primary and secondary schools within walking distance this site is very suitable for families, and we think people of all ages will enjoy being so close to amenities without having to get in the car.

We would love to hear from people who want to commit to making Cohousing Hafan Las community happen. More information here.

We have had a lot of interest from people considering joining Hafan Las, and have received support from PLANED, PAVS, Wales Co-operative Centre and the UK Cohousing Network. Transition Bro Gwaun is interested our project and has given us some useful contacts.

We have also had a meeting for newcomers, and visited a couple of eco-build projects in the area for inspiration.


January 2017

We are in the process of relaunching our project as Cohousing Hafan Las - a multigenerational eco cohousing community. Our new Vision, Mission and Aims have been approved, and are published here. We're now changing the signatories on the bank account to existing members, and then we can start applying for funding. Following publicity on national news for the Older Women's Cohousing (OWCH) in London - they moved into their new community recently - we have had a few new enquiries about our project, and had a meeting for 3 newcomers last week.


Nov 2016

In the last few months, we have viewed a few sites, in Clarbeston Road, Whitland, Waungilwen and another site in Boncath. None have proved to be suitable for various reasons. Jan attended an open day at Lancaster Cohousing, which is an inspirational cohousing community, and was able to get answers to a few of our questions.

We are planning a social get-together at Cilgerran Wildlife Centre, on Sunday 5th December. Starting at 11am with a wildlife walk, then having lunch together in the Glasshouse Cafe. We hope this time and day of the week will enable people who live away from West Wales, or whose lives are too busy for weekday/eve meetings, to come along. Apart from having a lovely walk and lunch, you can find out about cohousing, and specifically our project to establish an eco cohousing community in West Wales, and get to know us a bit better.

All welcome. We'd be happy if you want to join us for just the walk or just the lunch if you'd prefer, and it would help us if you could let us know whether you are thinking of coming along, as we can reserve a table in the cafe. Email janwaite2103@yahoo.co.uk or click 'Going' on this Facebook event.

Join us on Facebook.


June 2016

This month we have brainstormed the pros and cons of senior vs multi-generational cohousing. We have decided that there are more benefits with multi-generational, and are now proposing to widen the membership to younger people, including families with children.

Ellie and Jan attended the Intentional Communities Symposium in Cardiff on 16th, where they attended workshops on 'Financial models of cohousing', 'Surviving communal living', and 'Ensuring the long-term success of cohousing', all of which were very useful and informative. There were several speakers, and a good opportunity to network with like-minded people.


May 2016

We had a public meeting on 3rd May, in Hermon Community Centre, which was well attended. There was a presentation by Anna Kear, from the UK Cohousing Network, and some videos were shown about cohousing.

There was then a discussion during which people were invited to share their ideas about the project. One of the points discussed was whether to have a senior cohousing project or whether it would be better to have a multi-generational scheme with families, children and elders supporting one another. Another concern was for Welsh speakers, would a bilingual community be possible? We also discussed what type of care could be offered within the community, and what would have to be supplied by external carers.

The timescale is difficult to predict, and it depends on how many people are in the core group establishing the project. Finding land, getting planning, resourcing the finances, designing the build – these are all going to take some time, so we anticipate roughly 2-4 years, although we hope it will be less rather than more! Costs are also difficult to estimate, and depend greatly on the cost of the land. We are researching into alternative building methods and materials.

We are actively seeking new members to join our cohousing scheme, whether as purchasers, shared owners, tenants or resident investors. Please see the Contact Us page.

Videos shown in the meeting

An overview of the Lancaster Cohousing complex

TedX on Ecological Housing at LILAC Community in Leeds

TedX with Erica Elliott who lives at The Commons, Santa Fe, California


Reading list

If you are interested in learning more about senoir co-housing, the following books are maybe helpful:

"Creating a Life Together" - Diana Leafe Christian

"The Senior Cohousing Handbook" - Charles Durrett

"Eco Homes" - Jenny Pickerill

"Brilliant Project Management" - Stephen Barker

"Getting to Yes" - Roger Fisher

"Lets Talk About Money" - Erys Weaver

"Being Mortal" - Atul Gawande - not about cohousing, but a very interesting book about the medicalisation of ageing, frailty and death.