Our church conversion project in Stroud is featured in an article on co-habitational projects in the UK.
“Co-housing community – 18 residents
On a terraced street, walking distance from Stroud’s town centre, sit the UK’s first new-build “co-flats”. Eighteen people in eight single-owner-occupied flats and six rentals live inside a converted Unitarian church, complete with roof-top wind turbine. Set up in 2006 by co-housing developer David Michael, they are, in his words, a “tighter” version of their sister co-housing project, Springhill. Flats, which sell from £75,000 to £185,000, are each equipped with their own kitchen, lounge and balcony, but also come with communal facilities, including a car-share club, kitchen and laundry-room.
Residents sign up to co-housing principles, meaning they agree to carry out collective chores and contribute £140 a year to the car scheme, even if they cannot drive. They also pay a monthly fee of £25 a month to cover building insurance, maintenance and repair, and heating and lighting for the shared areas.
Peter Williams, 62, bought his flat for £92,000 four years ago. He took up Michael’s offer of a 20 per cent, interest-free mortgage and paid £73,600. Having never lived in a co-housing model before, he describes the arrangement as “jolly versatile”, but wishes, if anything, it were more communal.
“I like the principle of helping other people and we are all very fond of each other here,” he says, before adding that he is dating a resident across the hall. “I take out her rubbish and she reminds me to take out mine. She even paid one of the other tenant’s big debts when he forgot to. The biggest problem we have here is petty: it’s the collection of laundry money.” ”