What is cohousing?

The concept of CoHousing was started in Scandinavia in the ‘60s and is a common feature of life in many European countries. USA also have a multitude of communities. We have approximately 600 projects in the UK, either complete or in progress, as is HOWCH.

The ethos of CoHousing is essentially putting back the neighbourly support that was destroyed by rehousing people in High Rise Blocks. With little or no access to green spaces and lacking basic facilities such as shops and play areas, people did not invest in their surroundings. Modern housing estates often have such sterility.

Central to CoHousing is the provision of a private dwelling for every tenant, and a vibrant community space (as well as gardens) enabling shared meals and various gatherings, not least fundraising! The planning and architecture are vitally important to the success of the scheme, and HOWCH members (especially the Board) will have an input. We are registered as a CLT (Community Land Trust) which means the land and buildings will remain as property of the Hastings/St Leonards communities in perpetuity.

I need hardly remind you we live in changeable times, and in truth HOWCH has not achieved the Board Membership longevity that is desirable. If we are to complete negotiations over a promising piece of land, and be in line to receive appropriate funding when the Virus has released it’s hold, then we need to attract and keep enthusiastic Board Members, as the face of HOWCH.

The population in the UK is getting older with 18% aged 65 and over (Office for National Statistics 23/08/‘19) and there is scant provision for us “baby boomers”. As we are finding now with the Pandemic, having some neighbourly support is invaluable, and our HOWCH community would be designed to encourage and enable this. Low running costs due to good design, insulation and shared facilities (such as laundry and cars) will be factored in.


It is a non-profit, community based organization run by volunteers to develop affordable housing, community facilities or other assets that meet the needs of the community, with membership open to all local residents.

There are over 320 CLTs in England and Wales, and the sector has grown six-fold in the last six years. The largest CLTs have over 1,000 members each. CLTs have developed 870 permanently affordable homes to date and are working to develop an additional 5,800 homes in the next few years.

As the CLT owns the land forever, it can rent or lease it to people who meet its ‘allocation policy’ – to be decided by members later but normally limited to those who live or work in the local area.

For more information about CLTs, visit the website of the National CLT Network: www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk