2009 - 2016

Hanover’s chief executive, Bruce Moore, was interested in cohousing as a model which might spark a culture of self-management among the older residents of Hanover housing schemes. Hanover’s interest had been encouraged by visits to senior cohousing schemes in Continental Europe, particularly that resulting in the HAPPI Report on older people’s housing published by the Homes and Communities Agency in 2009.

Approached by Maria, Bruce Moore offered to find OWCH a site and the present site was identified in High Barnet. Hanover purchased this redundant school at risk in early 2010, became its developer and provided the capital for developing the OWCH scheme. Opposition from Barnet Council to an older persons’ development in their borough combined with all kinds of planning blockage to delay the scheme from 2010. Maria and OWCH women worked hard to lobby officers and councillors. A decisive factor in the granting of planning permission in early 2013 was support solicited from the then Director for Adult Social Care who agreed with our argument that a senior cohousing community can actually reduce the need for health and social care services. Local Barnet organisations, such as the Barnet Society, were also very supportive.  OWCH members canvassed the immediate neighbourhood, introducing the scheme to neighbours, and organised public meetings in the local library.  An exhibition was held in the local church. Members also organised ‘drop-ins’ in a local cafe for women to come and find out about OWCH.

After 18 months we finally achieved planning permission

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