It’s been an eventful week in the early life of our co-housing project.

Firstly we heard from East Cambridgeshire Community Housing that we have been awarded a Community Housing Fund grant of £4,500! This is to help us with the initial stages of setting ourselves up as a legal body and some other start-up work.

This is a vote of confidence in our project and makes the initial phase of the project much more feasible.

This news was fresh in our minds as eleven of us gathered for the day together at the offices of Mole Architects last Sunday.

Shubhanaga kindly hosted us and ran an excellent workshop exploring several aspects of our plans. You can see some pictures from the day in this blog.

The morning’s work focussed on a potential site on the western fringe of Cambridge that may become available at some stage.

Although it is very much a long shot, as it is a greenfield site with some significant planning restrictions, it gave us the opportunity to explore our aspirations and values for our cohousing scheme with a real scenario, rather than a more abstract concept.

We looked at what opportunities, concerns and problems we could see with the proposed site.

This allowed us to explore issues such as location, transport links, proximity to noise and traffic, access to countryside etc.  

We then considered what we would like on the proposed site, in terms of housing (number, type etc); shared facilities (common house, bike sheds, workshops etc.); common land (outdoor spaces, car parking, allotments etc.) and sustainability. Again, this opened some very interesting discussions on our priorities and concerns for the project.

After a delicious shared lunch (eaten on the sun-kissed terrace roof outside the office) we then explored our values for the project as a whole.

We created our own individual personal mandalas (what do we spend our time on vs what do we value most in our lives), and then extended this to explore how our proposed cohousing community could support these values and aspirations.

Throughout the day we were expertly led by Shubhanaga, who guided us through our deliberations and encouraged us all to think deeply about what we wanted to achieve.

This was done in a wonderful light-hearted and creative atmosphere, with everybody fully engaged, exemplifying the communal effort and open communication that we are fostering at Suvana. And what was so encouraging was just how in tune we all were, really sharing our core values in a way that bodes well for the future –  it really felt like we were creating something special!

Speaking of which, the next workshop (for all Suvana members) will be held on Sunday, 24th March, when we will be looking in more detail at what we would want in terms of the shared facilities such as the common house.

Hopefully this will be preceded by a visit to the K1, Marmalade Lane cohousing development in Orchard Park, so it is a date not to be missed – more details to follow nearer the time.

It will be great to see as many members at this meeting, both to get your views and ideas, and to continue to build this wonderful sense of community.

In the meantime, the steering group will be working to constitute Suvana Cohousing on a legal footing, begin creating a design brief for the potential site (incorporating a lot of the results of this workshop), and will start work on a high-level business plan.

This will use data from the membership survey, of which we have had 16 respondents so far.

If you are a member (or would like to become a member) and haven’t completed the survey yet, then there is still time – it would be great to have your input.