Category Archives: Cohousing Woodside news

Local planning forum for St Luke’s site 29 January 2013

IMG_0959Cohousing Woodside Steering Group member Lys de Beaumont attended the local planning forum for the whole St Luke’s site on 29 January 2013. Patrick Devlin from architects PTEa gave a very good presentation to local residents on the St Luke’s scheme and afterwards he and Mike Johnson from Savills (on behalf of owner and developer Hanover Housing Association) answered questions.

The forum was excellently directed by Vincent Maher, a senior planning officer, from Haringey Council. It was explained that the planning application had been submitted, and now currently under consideration, was for 70% of the site to be designated for over 55 year olds and 30% would not be age restricted. Patrick Devlin had lots of slides of how the various parts of the site were going to look. Initial concerns voiced by local residents at the Forum were largely: the impact the scheme would have on local school applications coming from the 30% of the site that was not age restricted housing and they also wanted assurances on how the age restriction on the 70% would be enforced so that this did not further impact on pressure for local school places. Mike Johnson replied that this would be achieved by placing a covenant on the land title for future sales.

Many local residents were also concerned that the 173 dwellings planned on the site would also impact on local infrastructures ranging from GP surgeries to transport. There was general concern over the lack of parking places on the site and how this might impact on surrounding streets. In addition to these main concerns, residents in Grand Avenue were particularly interested in the height of the buildings on the site and how this would affect the outlook from their homes. Although there was some opposition to the scheme, some local residents spoke eloquently in favour of the scheme. Mike Johnson believed that, subject to planning permission being granted, construction would start in late autumn and take approximately two and a half years. Vincent Maher said that the plans would be printed out and on display in the local library the weekend of 2 February.


Passivhaus conference in Nottingham

Cohousing Woodside Chair Ruth Schamroth attended the 2102 UK Passivhaus Conference in Nottingham last week organised by the Passivhaus Trust.

Client Endorsement: Geoff & Kate Turnstall, who live in Denby Dale, one of the first Passivhaus houses in England, told the conference that they would not now ever want to live in a non-Passivhaus. They hardly pay any heating bills and their home is a constant temperature all year round. The project was managed by The Green Building Store‘s construction division. Mike Shufflebotham (who gave the talk to us on 21st October) sends his regards to our group.

Alleviating Fuel Poverty: All the Housing Associations investing in Passivhaus Standards are doing so to ensure that their tenants have very low heating bills into the future. The testing and data for each project are proving this again and again.

Comfort: Our visit to Hastoe Housing Association’s Wimbish housing scheme on 24th October showed us how comfortable it felt in a Passivhaus building. John Lefever, who took us round the scheme, was a speaker at the conference and also sends his regards to all those who came on the site visit two weeks ago.

Passivhaus is not rocket science. These are the four main elements to a Passivhaus;

  • A lot of insulation with no cold bridging at all junctions
  • Triple glazing to windows and doors
  • Airtightness all round
  • Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery to clean and preheat the air as it is circulated around the house, thereby preventing the building from being stuffy.

PTEa’s Patrick Devlin and Tom Dollard were at the conference, as was John Pratley of Sustainable By Design. So were Hoare Lea consultants and many really passionate architects, service engineers, builders, contractors and John Lee of Ecology Building Society.

On the last day there was a coach tour of a Passivhaus office built by and for Interserve, Leicester; Sampson Close, Coventry, a housing development for Orbit Housing Association; and Oakmeadow Primary School, Wolverhampton, a Passivhaus school.

Great to see such close alignment between Hanover, Savills, and Cohousing Woodside!

In its publicity for the Hanover development, Savills writes:

“The acquisition, which followed an open market tender, was inspired by the North London Sustainable Housing Partnership, a co-housing group of local residents who have come together to find a housing opportunity where they can live in a mutually supportive community.”

It’s nice to be recognised as having inspired the development. Savills goes on to describe the plans for the site as providing “A new opportunity for down-sizers” and to ask:

Want to stay in Muswell Hill but have never found anywhere that meets your needs?

Want to stay in the area where you brought up your children and where most of your friends live?

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s like something that we said in February, when our blog said that we were:

“…really excited that Hanover’s bid has been successful. It has shown itself to be a really forward-looking organisation, and one that is seriously committed to working with local people rather than just developing the site for a quick profit. We think that a cohousing project is just what the area, and the local housing market, needs – an opportunity for local people who don’t need their family houses any more to stay in the neighbourhood where they have built up friendships and stable links.”

Community Feedback on Hanover’s plans for the St Lukes’ site

We received a copy of a local resident’s feedback from the recent exhibition held by Hanover. We are publishing an extract with permission from the person who submitted it.

“CONGRATULATIONS ON THESE EXCELLENT PROPOSALS. Well designed and affordable housing for over 55s is badly needed. The St Luke’s housing should help free up larger social housing units, and enable older tenants to make the transition to housing and a community that meets their needs after grown children have left home. Too often the alternatives offered to older social housing tenants fail to deliver this, causing them to hang on in overlarge accommodation which younger families badly need.

HANOVER and COHOUSING WOODSIDE ARE TO BE CONGRATULATED FOR THEIR INNOVATIVE THINKING IN PARTNERING TO INCLUDE A DIVERSE AND NEIGHBOURLY COHOUSING COMMUNITY IN THE SCHEME. This is an especially strong element in the overall scheme, offering real opportunities for all concerned to explore the benefits of new approaches to elder design that incorporate greater self-governing community participation and passivehaus developments for older citizens.

REDUCING THE ENTRY LEVEL AGE TO 50 FOR THE COHOUSING PART OF THE SITE IS TO BE APPLAUDED. Longer life spans and improved health mean expectations of elders in our community are changing. Building a community that embraces families in their mature working years, who are beginning to plan career downsizing, some with secondary and college age children, will enable a real exploration of new patterns in ageing and the transition to retirement. This offers a positive alternative to the potential ‘ghetto’ of ‘housing for the elderly’ – through a more outward looking community where active participation by older citizens in family, work and neighbourhood life can bring benefits for all – including improved health, well-being and independent community living for older citizens, and reduced calls on elder statutory support services. And in commercial terms, a self maintaining community of co-housing neighbours, with a common house as its hub, seems like a modern take on the neighbourhood ‘villages’ now being strongly promoted by estate agents, that homes there are likely to be in demand.

PASSIVHAUS DESIGN OFFERS REAL BENEFITS IN TERMS OF SAFE-GUARDING THE HEALTH AND INCOMES OF OLDER RESIDENTS, as steeply rising fuel bills make fuel poverty a reality for increasing numbers of retired people on fixed incomes, and more extreme weather conditions associated with climate change are set to hit vulnerable older residents harder than others in our communities. Mainstream contractors and estate agents have been slow off the mark in developing and promoting passivhaus capability, but as Building Regulations requirements for energy saving homes become more stringent, the gap is fast closing between standard build and passivhaus costs. In a rapidly changing industry and market place, engaging a specialist contractor to work with the main site contractor could be money well spent, and a real opportunity for all involved in this development to gain leading edge expertise in passivhaus elder design.”

Architects’ workshop number six!

Cohousing Woodside members held another workshop with our favourite architects, PTEA. This time we discussed the internal layout options for the individual units – we’d already spent a lot of time talking about the layout of the overall site. Once again the architects surpassed our expectations and held a really good interactive session.

My expectations of the overall process were very low going in – probably a result of too many worthless ‘consultation’ exercises carried out by local and central governnment, and by the corporate world. My jaded and cynical reservations have been thoroughly dashed. PTEA have genuinely engaged with us, really listened, and come up with some great ideas and layouts. Three cheers!

Cohousing Woodside on the panel at housing summit

A representative of our group sat on the panel at the Custom-build and Cohousing Summit, a conference in London on how group participation could help to make for  better kinds of housing and more cohesive neighbourhoods. There were great presentations from Ted Stevens of the National Self Build Association, Stephen Hill of C2O Future Planners, Chris Brown of Igloo Regeneration Fund and several others including James Ratcliff of the deputy mayor of London’s office.

The event was chaired by Angela Brady, the President of the RIBA, who is a great enthusiast and advocate for cohousing.

Hanover Housing Association to hold public consultation about plans for the St Lukes site

Hanover is holding another exhibition to get some feedback about its plans for the site. Come and have a look at the plans, drawings and models, and have your say.

The exhibition is open on Friday 28th September from 3-8pm, and again on Saturday 29th from 10am until 3pm. It’s an opportunity to meet members of our Cohousing Group too, and find out more about cohousing and the form that our development will take.


Welcome to Cohousing Woodside’s new website and blog

The Cohousing Woodside project now has its own website/blog! We are no longer hidden within the page structure of but standing proudly on our own internet feet.

Keep watching this blog for more exiting news about our project. If you want to be kept in touch with what’s happening but think you might not remember to keep checking, then click the ‘Follow blog by Email’ button on the left. If you’d like to know more and want to be involved with the project, then use the ‘Get Involved’ thingy at the top of the website.