The Living Project is an initiative to create a settlement where several generations can live alongside one another in a well-made environment, an extension of the European co-housing idea on a smaller scale. We aim to make flexible homes and workplaces which are both integrated and independent, to achieve a live-work balance and to celebrate long life, our own and that of the buildings and landscapes we occupy.
It also has another purpose: to make a positive contribution to the wider community, not retire behind high walls and shut the gates. We hope to pool our skills and enthusiasms by organising activities for all ages and, ideally, create opportunities for hands-on work experience and employment.
We envisage a settlement of perhaps 10 households with some shared facilities, either new-build or putting existing buildings to new uses. These dwellings would be homes in their own right organised around a courtyard or similar communal space, depending on the site we find. For many reasons, we are not searching for a site in London.
The aim is to enjoy well-tempered, well-lit individual living spaces with the added advantages of shared areas, including guest rooms. The provision we have discussed ranges from making flexible meeting space for talks, music, exercise and yoga to designing dedicated rooms such as library, workshops, rehearsal room (big enough for a grand piano) and a large kitchen with a baking oven. We intend to use shared transport, and in later life, shared care arrangements. We will have at least one big reception space, where we eat and entertain on special occasions or whenever we feel like it. In this way, we can combine privacy and independence with community and company.
Who are we?
Greg Penoyre and Kate Miller started the ball rolling in 2011. We met as a group of London friends and have made more friends on the way. Some of us have elderly parents; some have children at school or college. We are looking for people who share our vision and are interested in exploring the benefits of establishing with a wider group something akin to extended family.
We have formed a company, The Living Project Number One Limited.
The directors are: Greg Penoyre, Kate Miller, Michael Ward, Hilary Knight, Jane Stokes and Humphrey Keenlyside.
The project’s supporters and advisors from an early stage have included an ethical bank, specialists in not-for-profit organisations and property, a GP, homeopath, nutritionist, publisher, bee keeper, box-scheme fruit and vegetable grower, furniture designer, illustrators, writers, architects, care home owners and our parents.
Where will it be?
We are currently exploring both urban and rural sites with access to public transport within 50/60 miles of London and are open-minded about location and building forms. Everything depends on realising the character and potential of a site.
See our ‘Explorations & Wish List’ page. It is important to us that that we are not isolated but well connected to the surrounding neighbourhood – with access to, and contributing to, the neighbourhood in which we live. Although most of us have spent our working lives in or near the capital we are not expecting to purchase a London site. We do not have the financial clout!
What progress have we made?
Discussions with people in the co-housing and housing development communities have been encouraging. Key issues to resolve are location, appropriate site(s) and finance. Our studies have shown that the economies of scale of a larger development will have a tangible impact on costs and that the eventual number of dwellings and participants will influence how much shared space and facility is realistic. A funding model is being explored for development permitting a range of tenures from outright ownership to rented accommodation.
It is our intention to establish arrangements for finance and governance ahead of finding a site so that we can move swiftly and effectively to purchase and development. We envisage that development may be in phases or incremental, and we anticipate that once underway there will be interest from others.
Who to contact?
If you think this is something you would like to be involved in, or want more information, please contact Jane Stokes at: email@example.com