January 2022

Birmingham Community Cohousing (BCC) and the old Cohousing West Midlands (CoHoWM) groups agreed a framework for merging the two groups. We’ll keep the CoHoWM name (rather than BCC or a possible third option), and we’ll keep the CoHoWM registration with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), since CoHoWM is already registered as an MHOS. It’s agreed that the community will be more like the size that BCC envisaged. Geographically speaking, we’ll be much more Birmingham focused, but sites just over the border can be considered if transport links are good. As a matter of practicality, we’ll keep the CoHoWM bank account. We’ll keep the BCC IT and project control infrastructure.

We set up a list of specific tasks to do to merge the two groups. Keeping the blog up is one one such task!

BCC looked at a site in Wythall last year, and even had an initial site layout and estimate for building works made. One of us is working at putting those numbers into a spreadsheet. We will then be able to play with the parameters to look at affordability options and housing mix, etc. Once that is done, we’ll be able to feed the results into our Business Plan documents, and into our Individual Illustration spreadsheet. For this latter, a person’s income and housing requirements are entered, along with any extra lump sums they might be able to put in up front, and a deposit and “mortgage” / equity acquisition schedule is produced. All go!

We had a meeting with an officer of Bournville Village Trust, a Housing Association. They very much like the idea of CoHoWM, and sound very interested in being involved. They would act as our Registered Provider, and nominate people to socially rent. These folks would be keen on the idea of cohousing, and we’d go through the usual membership process of sounding each other out. (I.e. BVT has no interest in forcing people on us who would not be suited for community living.) BVT would pay for the development of a small number of units.

One of us attended a meeting hosted by the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH), with the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). This was about a government white paper on Tenant Satisfaction Measures. As mostly smaller organisations (< 1000 homes!) housing co-ops are unlikely to be affected directly – wouldn’t have report to the Regulator. However, many co-ops felt disappointed by this, that they’d like to be able to show that their Tenant Satisfaction is very high… Nowt to stop us from surveying our own satisfaction!

One of us attended a meeting hosted by the UK Cohousing Network (UKCN). This was about “Right Group, Right Brief, Right Site”. Perhaps the most interesting bit was looking at a Google Map Sattelite View of a (random) area and seeing if we could spot potential development sites, and their potential positives and negatives.

The old CoHoWM had never gotten to the point of briefing architects, so we had not gotten down to much detail about how we’d like the community laid out, etc. In response to our merger with BCC, we finally got around to having that conversation, so now we’ll be in a position to make sure we have a consensus across the whole of the new CoHoWM.

Published by CoHoWM

Cohousing West Midlands is (surprise) a cohousing project for the West Midlands! Cohousing is where everyone has their own front door, but there's also a community house for weekly shared meals and activities, and other shared spaces. More than a Housing Association, and less than a co-op!

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