MUCH began with a group of friends sitting round a table in 2010 and thinking positively about how they might live better as they grew older, keeping strong ties to a local community and reducing isolation. We held a public meeting in early 2013, at Inspire in Levenshulme, and found more people interested in joining us.
We knew that there had been many such groups but in setting up and working as MUCH we took the idea further and hoped to build a cohousing home for 15 to 20 homes for 18 to 30 people, aged over 50, in South Manchester. Our intention is that up to one third of the build is available for rent.
In the early stages of our development we worked with a PhD student at MMU who helped us with some initial design and build ideas and helped us to visualise our cohousing dream home. We also developed a clear set of criteria by which to evaluate any land or building re-development opportunity which arose in our preferred area.
We have worked hard since then to build our community of members, our vision and values. We are committed, hardworking and passionate about delivering an older people’s cohousing community. We enjoy each other’s company and have become good friends. We believe that this way of living will be good for us, good for our families and friends and good for our local neighbourhood.
We have continued to keep our design and living ideas fresh and alive by visiting lots of other cohousing schemes both in the UK and abroad. They have been inspiring to see in action and a great source of learning.
We joined the National Cohousing Network in 2015 and have enjoyed being part of a growing community with shared interests.
We have recruited new members and spoken to lots of people who are interested in our vision. We use as many networks as we can to promote our ideas and gain local credibility. We are well known in local housing forums and by local councillors.
- In January 2019 we were awarded one of the first Community Housing Fund grants, a testimony to the hard work we had put in to our vision, values and commitment. We are using the fund to further progress the “nuts and bolts” of the business of MUCH which will ultimately allow us to be ready to move quickly when we identify land.
- We have signed a partnership agreement with Great Places Housing Group to help us with land finding, design and build information including the expertise of Paddock Johnson Partnership Architects.
- Wrigley’s Solicitors, well respected in the cohousing sector, are helping us tighten up our legal Memoranda and other agreements consistent with our vision and values.
- We are committed to living with as low a carbon footprint as we can both in terms of build and sustainable living and we are mindful of the challenges of a warming climate on the lives of older people. URBED have helped us learn more about sustainable issues to consider in our design.
- We have invested in Consensus decision making training since our inception and continue to work at becoming better and more effective in the use of its principles to facilitate effective decision making.
South Manchester is a difficult area to find affordable land of a suitable size and aspect but we remain positive that our commitment and partnership with Great Places will find a solution.