I visited Marmalade Lane, a co-housing project in Cambridge, at the weekend and thought I would put some musings into writing. I loved the layout they had and the feel of the place. I thought it especially wonderful for children.
The houses are so well insulated/built that everyone there said that they never turned their heating on. All of the shared amenities were working really well.
Their main problems as discussed were:
i) setting rules and boundaries for kids.
ii) tenants and lodgers not participating very fully in the community.
One of the most significant findings to come out of it is that their financial structure is very mortgage based. Any mortgage company is going to insist that they have the right to sell the house to whoever they want. So while they do have a provision in all mortgage agreements to give them eight weeks to try and find someone suitable, after that they have no control on who buys the property.
They also have no control over who rents any property or any lodgers. Even though they are only 4-5 months into the project they are already finding this to be a problem. There are people there who are just not participating. That all seems like a real shame to me - and something for us to think about as we move forward.