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Co-housing in Sydenham – Open Day Saturday September 11, 2pm-5pm

Open Day Saturday September 11, 2pm-5pm

Featherstone Lodge (Eliot Bank near the junction of Sydenham Hill and Kirkdale)

Sydenham will be the location of one of the first co-housing communities in London and hopefully the first of many that will help its residents discover a new and more active life-style in ‘later life’.

You are warmly invited to our first open-day. A guided tour of Featherstone Lodge will be followed by a presentation about ‘cohousing’ and how Featherstone Lodge will provide a home for one of London’s first co-housing communities.

Featherstone Lodge is situated at the top of Eliot Bank, near the junction of Sydenham Hill and Kirkdale. It is a large Victorian house which could provide about 7 spacious self-contained apartments. The house also has a vast and beautiful garden and there is the potential to add a further 20 dwellings around this garden without detracting from its appearance.

Featherstone Lodge has been bought by Hanover Housing Association. Hanover is committed to working with prospective residents to complete the development and create a co-housing community and it is intended that members will individually purchase their property from Hanover. A number of dwellings will be let at ‘affordable’ rents.

What is co-housing?
Members of co-housing communities have their own self-contained dwellings, of a size they can afford, and live their own private lives as they would anywhere. However for co-housing communities to work there must be a clear and conscious intention of members to be active participants in the community and benefit from neighbourliness. The schemes are self-managed and both management and design foster community on a formal and informal basis. So, for example, it is common for gardens to be shared and for communal evening meals to be provided once or twice a week. Activities can be arranged and these may include the wider community. Co-housing communities are not inward-looking. Successful co-housing communities have been up and running in the rest of Europe (particularly in Denmark and the Netherlands) for many years. Interest in this country is more recent. It has been driven by a number of factors.

• Co-housing is one part of a much wider public discussion concerning the housing options for older people. There is a growing recognition that housing that allows older people to live full and active lives for as long as possible reduces the need (and cost) of institutional care. At the same time, older people are less willing to accept institutional provision of any kind and want new more affordable options which preserve their personal autonomy.

• Ageing ‘baby-boomers’ are rejecting the idea of growing old gracefully. They are rejecting the idea of retirement as a ‘withdrawal’ from active engagement with the rest of the world. And that is also a rejection of isolation and loss of purpose and fellowship one can derive from employment.

• Baby-boomers are, generally speaking, better off than previous generations of older people. They have the resources to make choices and have no shortage of ‘attitude’. The idea of ‘old age’ and what it means is changing and cohousing is one expression of this.

How to get involved
Most co-housing communities begin with a group who try to find a suitable site. We decided to find a site first and then set up the group. So far, there are just the two of us. If you think you might like to join us, the only criterion is that one of you is aged at least 50 and that you are committed to the co-housing ethos. Although some properties will be made available for rent, at this stage, it is probably necessary that you have the resources to purchase.

If you are not able to attend the open day you can e-mail us at

John and Julia Farr