Danish-style ‘co-housing’ scheme could be first of its kind in Norwich

Lucy Hall and Christine Way who are part of the group trying to get Norfolk's first co-housing commu

Lucy Hall and Christine Way who are part of the group trying to get Norfolk's first co-housing community built on Sussex Street, Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

An innovative housing scheme encouraging people to build their own neighbourhood could become a reality in Norwich – five years after the idea was first floated.

In 2015, a group of city people came together to purchase a derelict site on Sussex Street in Norwich, with lofty ambitions of creating Norwich's first ever co-housing site.

An initiative believed to have originated in Denmark in the 1960s, co-housing sees communities build a neighbourhood from scratch with an ethos of sharing and cooperation - with private properties complemented by communal areas and a spirit of sharing.

The Sussex Street Co-housing Group bought the vacant land on the corner of Sussex Street and Oak Street five years ago with planning permission already in place, but a series of complications have meant the scheme is yet to get off the ground.

Now, though, the group is hoping 2020 could prove to be the year the plan finally begins to move forward, with a new planning application in the works and hopes of securing government funding to bring the scheme to life.

Lucy Hall, one of the people behind the group, said: "Co-housing is a very simple idea - people get together and create their own communities. We're hoping to have between 25 and 30 homes on the land, and the evidence from other schemes suggest that they do really work.

"A lot of the thinking behind the idea is that it helps address issues of loneliness - people do not tend to get to know their neighbours quite as well these days, which is a shame.

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"It tends to work particularly well for two groups of people - young families who can use a bit of a hand and people approaching retirement age."

While the land's planning permission has since expired, the group is working up a new application and has enlisted the help of homebuilders Town Developments and London-based architecture firm Archio.

It is hoped an application can be prepared later this year, with the ambition of starting building work within 18 months - though this depends both on finances and planning permission.

Information about the scheme can be found at norwichcohousing.org.uk