One of the solicitors in our community-led housing team, Laura Moss, is in the process of setting up her own cohousing project.
She is writing a series of articles for us about the process (you can see the first one here). In this latest update, she explains what steps the group have taken so far.
"We have now bought our site and are working with architects and planners to realise the development. The key stages of our journey so far have been as follows:
Finding the site
This was relatively easy and straightforward, which is unusual for most cohousing groups. As the property had been on the market for a while, we were able to bargain the seller down on price. It is a fairly unique site, with lots of existing buildings which need to be demolished. The cost and hassle of clearing the site before any development can take place, along with the fact that there is only permission to develop five dwellings, means that it has been relatively unappealing for mainstream developers. It is also too big for individual self builders so is more or less perfect for a small cohousing group like ours.
Forming a group
We started off with just two households (for a potential five homes). We recruited friends to fill the third plot, found a fourth household through word of mouth and then advertised in a local community newsletter for the remaining fifth plot.
The recruitment process was a useful way of checking that the rest of us were all on the same page, with the kind of community we wanted to create. Luckily, we all agreed about the kind of person or people we wanted to attract. Once the fifth household was recruited, we then agreed to meet up in person every month or two, with fortnightly meetings via Skype, to make sure progress was maintained.
An important part of building our group was agreeing the Vision and Values we would subscribe to. Broadly speaking, we want to build an inter-generational community with a commitment to environmentalism and social justice, connected to the wider community in the area.
We also agreed a set of principles about how the community will operate, which we have set out in a Members' Agreement. This provided us all with reassurance about how we would make certain decisions, such as how each plot would be allocated.
Choosing a legal structure
We obviously have an advantage in that I specialise in advising community-led housing groups on legal structures and governance.
We opted for a company limited by...