HOWCH came together as a small group of committed and ambitious people in order to tackle a two-fold issue that is prevalent here in Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea, namely it’s housing crisis and the endemic isolation and loneliness. As part of a solution to this we would like to propose cohousing, a concept that is spreading in the UK but might be more familiar to our European neighbours.

Our cohousing community would be more than just a place to live. We would propose a community full of life where we can share space, time and other facilities with each other but also with the wider community. We are confident that in partnership with and help from stakeholders in our wider community we are able to secure, develop, finance and design permanently affordable local homes to go with our cohousing community.


HOWCH is in the process of developing a model for cohousing that will be useful for different groups of people in the community, however, we have decided to start this model with housing for women over fifty.

We know that women often work part time so that they can care for their children and possibly also for their elderly parents. This in turn means that their lower income, as compared to a full time salary, has a negative impact on their pension later in life and it can then become difficult to find affordable accommodation to rent or buy, especially if it is a one person household.


Through our affordable cohousing scheme we feel we will be able to meet the long term needs of women who has been priced out of the local rental and property market.

By setting up a Community Land Trust (CLT) we are able to access and obtain land and buildings which can be the foundation for our cohousing community. The CLT will hold the land and buildings in a trust which means that this will never fall into private hands and the community will benefit forever.

There are many local CLTs that have been set up around the country. A Community Land Trust group is open to everyone in the local community to join, not just the people who will end up living in its properties. Every member has a stake in the process and any profit will return back into the trust, this way our proposed cohousing scheme will be able to benefit many generations to come.


Our plan is to be able to offer rented accommodation at 80% of the going market rent as well as providing shared ownership accommodation and the opportunity to buy a leasehold from the Community Land Trust (CLT). The lease would be sold back to the trust at market value if or when the home owner decides to leave. All maintenance costs would be shared between the residents and we are aiming to keep the building costs down with our chosen design.

We want to open doors for single women over 50 across Hastings and St Leonards. With a potential site within this local area, our first pilot cohousing scheme is to develop a community of 15 individual flats with their own front door, kitchen and living room, bathroom and bedroom(s) access to a balcony or small terrace, with shared facilities: dining room, kitchen, guest room, public toilet, laundry, communal garden, parking and shared cars. The initial idea is that this will be a mix one and two

bedroom homes.

It is our pioneering vision to combine the Community Land Trust (CLT) ethic with cohousing, where the community retain the longer term freehold interest and the community share in the day to day operation of the scheme. We aim to be environmentally considerate and less reliant on cars. We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us!

We are assisted by Sussex Rural Housing Hub and are an incorporated legal entity.

Click here to read about our Board members