Project name K1
Lead partner Cambridge Cohousing
County Cambridgeshire City Council
TOWNHus has been appointed as the developer for Cambridge Cohousing’s K1 custom build site. The 40-home cohousing site has been designed by award-winning architects Mole to Passivhaus standards. The design is for three terraces of affordable houses and paired flats, together with a low-rise apartment building, overlooked by a shared common house for socialising. The house and apartment types allow for multiple variations of layout to suit differing family requirements.
“Cohousing has an important role to play in meeting housing needs in a new way – not only by helping people shape the places they live in, but also in reinstating the sense of community and neighbourliness that is often missing in new developments,” says Jonny Anstead, director of TOWN.
TOWNHus is itself a joint venture between TOWN and Swedish developer Trivselhus, and the homes will be constructed using an off-site timber panel system that will be assembled and finished on site. Work is now going ahead to secure detailed planning permission, with work forecast to start on site in early 2016.
Custom build developers and enablers will tell you of the difficulties of bringing on multi-occupancy custom built apartments. Many large scale projects have them included as part of the initial mix, but relatively few have worked out how to bring them on. There are issues about how to get a group of people together with a consensus about how they want to live early on enough in a scheme, not to mention the complications of gaining custom build mortgages on projects such as these.
And yet cohousing and community land trust projects are achieving precisely what industry is struggling to. Part of the key to their success is pulling together groups of like minded people, but they offer a solution for how to build this type of project. We know the model works, as demonstrated by the German Baugruppe, it’s a case of adapting this model so that it’s supported and viable in the English market.