Cohousing especially for older women

OWCH (Old­er Women’s Cohous­ing) is a group of women over fifty who, as an alter­na­tive to liv­ing alone have cre­at­ed their own com­mu­ni­ty in a new, pur­pose-built block of flats in High Bar­net, London.

OWCH move in

The devel­op­ment com­pris­es eleven one-bed, eleven two-bed and three three-bed flats, com­mu­nal areas, guest room, laun­dry and gar­dens. Sev­en­teen flats are owned by occu­pants on 250-year leas­es with the remain­der ear­marked for social renters on assured ten­an­cies, man­aged by OWCH and Hous­ing for Women. OWCH mem­bers were close­ly involved with scop­ing the design and con­struc­tion. Designed by Pol­lard Thomas Edwards archi­tects, the £4.2m scheme which was devel­oped by Hanover Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, with sup­port from the Tudor Trust and Hous­ing for Women won the Richard Feilden Hous­ing Design award in 2016.

The 26 women aged 50 – 87 who have tak­en up res­i­dence formed a self-man­ag­ing cohous­ing com­mu­ni­ty, based on the shared val­ues of neigh­bourli­ness and mutu­al sup­port. As founder mem­ber Angela Rat­cliffe said: Peo­ple don’t have to be bosom pals, but there will be social activ­i­ties if you want to join in. Maybe once a week we’ll cook a meal togeth­er, we might employ some­one to do our clean­ing. There are a lot of deci­sions to be made. But the impor­tant thing is, they will be our deci­sions, and there won’t be any­body impos­ing them on us.” 

Although schemes espe­cial­ly for senior peo­ple are an estab­lished option in parts of main­land Europe since the 1970s – there are 200 of these in the Nether­lands alone — the OWCH ini­tia­tive is the first in Britain. 


tags: inde­pen­dence, self-determination