Task Force support for London Older Lesbian Cohousing and later life living

The Right to Build Task Force has embarked on its first London-based community-led work, advising London Older Lesbian Cohousing (LOLC). In addition, it has committed to working more closely with the new Community Led Housing London Hub to help drive its support for community-led groups in the capital.

Announced at the Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the Potential of Custom & Self Build Housing held in London on 10 May, the news supports the Task Force’s ambition to support Custom and Self Build housing opportunities through community-led projects.

Founded in April 2016, London Older Lesbian Cohousing is working to create an intentional and innovative community of 20-25 homes, including communal living spaces. The group is employing a cohousing model to create a caring environment for older living that offers an alternative to conventional approaches to retirement.

The shared values and community facilities common to cohousing make it an excellent choice for a group of people with diverse life experiences but similar ambitions for an autonomous yet supported stage of life.

It offers a solution for interdependent living underpinned by a community ethos, which helps limit the isolation that can come with aging, and can be particularly keenly felt if you are part of a minority group in society.

The Task Force will first work with LOLC to develop a site specification to identify potential locations for their new homes and create a shortlist of delivery partners before selecting a funding model and moving forward with design and delivery.

LOLC is being supported by Waltham Forest Council and Locality, the national network that supports community organisations, through their Early Stage Support Programme, funded by the Nationwide Foundation.

Knowledge is power
A key challenge for community-led groups is access to knowledge and expertise, so the new relationship with the Community-led Housing London resource and advice hub will maximise the potential benefits to projects to similar LOLC.

Jude Watson, LOLC member said: “It’s great to have the support of the Right to Build Task Force to help us progress to our next stage.

“We’re now a company and have developed our business plans with help from the Task Force and the Community Led Housing London. We’re developing our site and design specs further, ready to work with housing provider partners.

“It’s great that our ‘intentional’ community for older lesbians is being recognised as a way forward for diverse older housing communities.”

Mario Wolf, Director of the Right to Build Task Force, said “We have a significant lack of diversity in the housing opportunities available to older people in our housing market.

“Custom and Self Build housing offers older people a better choice of accommodation and can help them to live independently for longer and help reduce costs to our social care and health systems.

“Senior cohousing schemes like the recently completed New Ground project in High Barnet really show what can be achieved in such projects and how they can create affordable, high quality homes which improve the quality of life of our older citizens whilst freeing up more homes for other buyers.”

“The Right to Build Task Force is committed to working with and supporting more community groups to build their own homes. This is central to our work and legacy ambitions, and we will be working with Community Led Housing London to further this.

“I would encourage all groups who think they can benefit from our help to contact us and sign up to their local Right to Build registers so that councils can take their needs into account when making land available.”

The Right to Build registers are a vital tool to help individuals or groups source land to build their own homes, supporting local authorities with the evidence they need as they work to permission sufficient plots for those on their registers.

Sign up to your Right to Build at NaCSBA's Right to Build Portal.

For help and advice, visit the Community Land Trust Network and UK Cohousing can help with finding existing groups to sign up with, or with developing a new group.

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