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Co-Housing Not Co-Living: Birmingham Chooses Its Own Path

Co-housing: A new way to build?

Co-living was shaping up to be a big theme in the build-to-rent residential sector before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, maybe less so.

Fear that the flat-share concept may flop in an age of social distancing and lockdowns has, in part, provided new justification for already sceptical local councils who fear the co-living concept does not fit easily into existing planning categories. This week Manchester City Council, which has received proposals for more than 3,000 co-living beds, published proposals that would cap co-living development in the city.

Birmingham City Council has yet to decide a major application for co-living in the city centre. Two schemes have been mooted — Volume Properties’ £16M 260-bed venture at Hospital Street and HUB’s for 600 co-living units at South Digbeth. But neither is listed on the council’s register of planning applications.

Whilst co-living has been slow to take root in Birmingham, the rival concept of co-housing appears to be moving more quickly.

Co-housing is in its infancy in the UK, with just 19 co-housing developments across the country. Advocates say it is about creating an “intentional community” in which homes are clustered around facilities created with and managed by residents. 

Birmingham City Council, in partnership with not-for-profit housing business Housing 21, has identified land in Lozells and Saltley to provide the city’s first co-housing projects for older people.

Around 25 homes per scheme will be developed, each a self-contained, private home with access to on-site communal facilities determined by those who will live at the scheme.