Serene Forest Cohousing
Social connection and need for privacy in balance

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Housing affordability and its social impact is emerging as a major concern throughout Australia. Strict regulations and skewed government policies are placing large segments of the population under stress with negative impacts on social harmony, health and contentment.

The largest challenge in most cohousing arrangements is finding people with considerate, thoughtful attitudes who truly resonate with each other and have sufficient finances.

We value a low noise, peaceful environment, where people have independent lives, and balance privacy with choosing their own level of engagement. We envisage that our small community will share a good sized property with creative layout architecture that meets existing council regulations, thereby eliminating long and costly compliance issues.

You are welcome to join our regular dinner parties where in a relaxed, informal environment we get to know each other and discuss the many options in front of us.

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Serene Forest Cohousing

Serene Forest Cohousing Northern Rivers

According to Political Science economists Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman "Housing affordability can be expected to deteriorate more, with dire economic and social consequences. The problem is utterly unviable in the long term. With every passing decade it would get worse, the wider economic costs would become more penalising, the monetary policy more unmanageable and the outcomes more unacceptable."

Cohousing is an alternative development model that can deliver more affordable housing, low impact living and resilient, happy communities. Cohousing is a concept wherein suitable blocks of land are adapted to accommodate two, three or more smaller dwellings with some shared spaces, reducing the overall physical, financial and environmental footprint per household.

Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community without diminishing the privacy of the individual households. Careful preselection, communication enhancing meetings, sense of connection, and the physical design encourages both social contact and individual space, as well as more efficient use of general resources.

The composition of Australian households is changing: our population is ageing and over 30% of households will be single person households by 2026. Social isolation is a serious emerging issue. There are signs of new, more collaborative paradigms for semi rural living arrangements.

Cohousing has the potential to make buying or renting a home cheaper but also enables sharing of bills, cars and household goods, as well as trading of services. As households collaborate to share resources an informal sharing economy grows, with many financially better off.

Company title is an alternative legal structure, generally much simpler from a planning approvals perspective and in some cases may be doable within existing development controls.

In the heart of ultra-hip Brunswick, in Melbourne’s hotter-than-hot inner-north, a quiet housing revolution is underway. It’s the dream of Melbourne architect Jeremy McLeod. Fed up with profit-driven projects and the lack of affordable housing in the inner city, he decided to re-imagine apartment development with an ethical edge.

Mr McLeod, founder of Breathe Architecture, and a group of like-minded architects decided to take matters into their own hands. Enter the Nightingale model. Built around the cornerstones of intentional community, environmental sustainability, and affordability, the model offers owner-occupiers the chance to buy thoughtfully designed apartments for 15 to 20 per cent less than market value.

The prototype  Nightingale 1, opened its doors to residents in late 2017. Among its eco credentials, the sustainable building has rainwater harvesting, a packaged heat pump, rooftop gardens and photovoltaic solar. The idea of a ready-made community attracted purchasers, as much as the promise of sustainability and a discount on market prices.

The purchaser group are put together a year before: they go on monthly walk-throughs, have drinks together, and get to know each other’s kids’ names. For instance, purchasers in the group’s newest development, Nightingale Brunswick East, recently got together to watch the slab being poured for their future homes. It’s such a simple initiative, that you know each other before you get the keys.

Every apartment has a covenant to ensure its affordability is passed on if residents sell. A maximum resale price is determined, using a formula based on market prices.

The company’s vision continues to expand, with plans for a village of affordable apartments in Brunswick, known as Nightingale Village. It will have seven buildings, and raise the bar even further – the aim is to supply homes for 30 per cent less than market value, using a German model known as Baugruppen.

Literally translating to "building group", Baugruppen in effect cuts out developers from developments. The idea is that a group of interested purchasers come together and collectively fund their own community housing project. They are often helped or led through the process by architects, and they get a say in what their resulting homes look like. Generally, these homes are far more affordable, have a focus on quality, sustainability and shared community facilities.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Resources and Links:

Empathy and Authenticity in Communication
Total Honesty
Nightingale Housing Melbourne
The Simpler Way
Co-operative Living Information
The AGEncy project
Social Habitat Housing
Rural Landsharing Communities
Benefits of Cooperative Housing
Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014
Findhorn Foundation
Munksogaard and Andelssamfundet, Denmark
Regen Villages
Transiting to Advanced Civilisation
Aldinga Arts Eco Village
Brisbane North Eco Village
Mandala Community
Global Eco Village Network
Smart Urban Villages
Thriving, Sustainable Communities
Sustainable Communities South Australia
Ted Trainer interview
A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
Eco-village footprints