FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is New Ground Cohousing?
New Ground Cohousing is the first senior cohousing community in the country and the only one dedicated as women-only. For our history and background, please see the Brief History of OWCH. We have learned from existing models abroad in pioneering this community, and, in turn, are hopeful that other older people’s groups will learn from it and seek to plan their own self-managed communities for their future years.
What is cohousing?
Cohousing is a way of living as part of a group with defined values and aims, where individuals enjoy individual accommodation, personal space and privacy plus shared space where they can get together. This differs totally from sheltered housing in that OWCH residents are in active control of managing their community in every way, and have been from the planning stage on. The OWCH values and aims include neighbourliness and sharing joint activities (such as eating together from time to time, or going on outings) and responsibility for the life of the group, as well as offering each other mutual support and acceptance.
How is New Ground structured?
17 of the flats are purchased on 250-year leases and the remaining 8 are for social rental. The landlord for these assured tenancies will be Housing for Women (www.hfw.org.uk) in partnership with OWCH. There are no private rentals, but women who are eligible for council or housing association accommodation could become social renters. See criteria for social renters
What does OWCH believe in?
Is it worth becoming a member of OWCH even if there are no vacancies at the moment?
We are keen to help and encourage women over 50 to find out about cohousing and to develop their own projects. OWCH will establish a new membership process to recruit up to a dozen new (non-resident) members in spring 2017. As one of this group you will be invited to join in occasionally with our activities to see for yourself how co-housing works in practice, so that you can get to know us and we get to know you. You will also be among the first to hear of any flats that become vacant in the future.
We will not operate a waiting list as such; vacancies will be filled as appropriate to maintain or adjust the community’s age-balance. See our Membership and Allocations Policy
How is the OWCH group run?
OWCH (Older Women’s Co-Housing) Barnet Ltd is a non-profit-making company set up to establish the New Ground Cohousing Community. The group was formally constituted as a Fully Mutual Company in 2011. Membership is open to women aged fifty or over who support the values and aims of the group and are accepted for membership.
We have no hierarchy and members volunteer for administrative and other tasks necessary for our life together. Our small Management Committee is elected annually to coordinate. Work to be done, such as cleaning common areas or overseeing shared-car arrangements, are the responsibility of small groups known as “ task groups”. These report back and make recommendations to the regular business meetings of the community so that the full membership is part of any decision making needed. As far as possible, all important decisions are made by consensus.
Are there other groups like OWCH?
OWCH is a member of the UK Cohousing Network. On their website you will find cohousing communities around the country which advertise vacancies from time to time. Most are family based and multi-generational. But there are groups like OWCH working on building cohousing communities for older people. At present several groups in London and one in Fife, Scotland are active in this field.