Eyesore Norwich site could be turned into Danish-style cohousing scheme
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
An eyesore site in Norwich could blaze a trail for a new style of housing – where families custom build their own homes and share meals.
A group of city people has bought a half-acre plot of land and hopes to create the first development in the East of England where people co-house.
That would see them emulate a way of life which has become increasingly popular in Denmark, where people would have their own front doors and private living space, but would share a dining room for meals, a laundry, a workshop and gardens.
The Sussex Street Cohousing group wants to custom build 17 houses and flats, with shared facilities and communal gardens.
Cohousing is an idea which was pioneered in Denmark in the 1960s when young professional families bought properties next door to each other to help with child-minding. That developed into people sharing facilities.
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Planning permission for the site, on the corner of Sussex Street and Oak Street, near Anglia Square, was granted by Norwich City Council six years ago.
And the group which has bought the site, once home to a business which sold foam products, is hoping to use that permission for a block of apartments and townhouses, with undercroft parking and a terrace.
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Lucy Hall, a member of the group, said: 'The design of the scheme is of a high quality, and when we saw the commercial space we knew we could make it work for us. We want a shared space that is large enough for meals and get-togethers, perhaps a guest bedroom, storage and workspace, all of which will fit into the 2,500 square feet of ground floor space.
'We love the area, which is one of the more historic parts of Norwich, and look forward to becoming part of the St Augustine's neighbourhood.'
The group hopes to upgrade the build quality to Passivhaus standard, which will reduce heating bills to a minimum.
Ms Hall said: 'Our close colleagues are K1 Cohousing in Cambridge and Cannock Mill Cohousing in Colchester, both in development. But we're hoping to get built first.'
She said it was too early to know what the cost would be, but because of the extras - communal facilities and building quality - they are likely to be more expensive than similar houses and flats nearby. But she said running costs would be cheaper.
The group is holding an open meeting this Saturday to reveal more about its plans. It will take place at The Stage, 52 St Augustine's Street, from 11am to 1pm.
What do you think of the idea of cohousing? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org