Cohousing in Gwynedd

North Wales



Gogledd Cymru

An image of the Quakers' bi-lingual symbol.

Economic Justice Group

Cohousing in Gwynedd


Frances Voelcker writes ...

On 21 November 2016, I gave a public lecture at Bangor University entitled:

‘Housing – or Homes? 

An Introduction to Cohousing, as it could be applied to Gwynedd’.

I highlighted the particular problems here in Gwynedd where we have the highest proportion of old domestic property in the UK, in a climate that makes construction particularly vulnerable to damp, and complicates the challenge of making it energy-efficient. We also have sparsely scattered houses off grid in many areas.

Fuel poverty is common, at between 15% and 30% of households in almost all wards. The population is older than the UK average, and household size is shrinking so that dwellings are often under-occupied; at the same time, house-prices are well above the affordability of the average local income, with intergenerational injustice, a situation aggravated by second homes.

Lastly, we know that our eco-footprint per person at 9 – 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide (a proxy for all kinds of over-consumption) far exceeds the safe average eco-footprint for the planet of just over 1 tonne.  The Earth Overshoot day in 2016 was calculated to be 8 August. We have loneliness and isolation.

Cohousing is a way of living that builds up the skills of sharing and co-operating, and while mostly new-build, it can be applied to conversion of existing buildings. There are aspects of the current situation that we can change, if we work together: by sharing and pooling resources, we could still have access to equipment and facilities such as cars, washing machines, and guest rooms, yet reduce our personal consumption. By pooling resources not only could we afford the most efficient equipment, we would have to negotiate co-operatively, thus re-learning trust in each other and rebuilding community.