Co-housing community allows residents to have a shared sense of ownership and provide for future generations

A cohousing project in Swansea is bringing diverse groups of people together with the aim of creating secure, affordable homes in a strong, productive community.

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Swansea Cohousing, in the Mount Pleasant area of Swansea, is one of a large movement of community led housing schemes in Wales that are being championed by the Wales Co-operative Centre with its Communities Creating Homes programme.

Leonie Ramondt co-founded the community housing project to bring together people of all ages and to try and make a difference to future generations. She says living in a cohousing community allows residents to have a shared sense of ownership and adds that co-living in safe, attractive, affordable homes means they are likely to be more productive and participate in the wider community.

Leonie said:

“I have a natural preference for living in an intergenerational community as well as a sense of urgency regarding our ageing tsunami, the plight of younger generations unable to get on the property ladder, the impacts of climate change, possible post-Brexit food insecurity, our austerity economy, exploitative landlords, depleted resources and alienated cities.

“I also want to leave a positive legacy for future generations. I’ve always been passionate about developing local talent and generating a strong sense of community and have a deep belief that fairness and opportunity brings out the best in people. Also, multi-generational cohousing can assist young families to get on the property ladder and regenerating our local buildings can build practical, much needed skills in our local young people.”

Leonie Ramondt

The majority of Swansea Co-Housing members live in Mount Pleasant, set on a steep hill with close proximity to the city centre and Swansea Bay, as well as easy access to history and nature. People are friendly there. Leonie says that in the first six months of moving to Mount Pleasant in 2016, she had more cups of tea with neighbours than she did in 14 years in her previous home in Chelmsford.

She said:

“Mount Pleasant is a rather gritty neighbourhood with a richly diverse community and amazing old houses that have great potential for cohousing. We are a diverse group with complimentary skills and a shared vision for community. We share meals at meetings and are building a real sense of connection and trust.

“We all share a love for our neighbourhood, city and community as well as for nature, inclusion, sustainability and historical buildings. We also share a passion for regeneration and building the local economy through developing local skills as well as for social cohesion and quality of life.”

Wales Co-operative Centre has been supporting and championing the growth of co-operative and community-led housing since 2012, and in April this year, it launched its Communities Creating Homes programme which aims to stimulate demand for community-led housing throughout Wales.

With more than 30 schemes already in place across Wales, communities can be created for various purposes and shared visions. Where some schemes have been created to make housing more affordable for residents, others have been developed for people who want improved eco-friendly lifestyles.

Research commissioned by the Wales Co-operative Centre has shown that those living in these communities feel less isolated because they are surrounded by a supportive network. They also have improved mental health and wellbeing, are more confident and more able to develop their skills.

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