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Finding a viable plot is often cited as one of the biggest challenges for those of us who want to build our own homes. But things are changing: with government support and more councils waking up to the benefits of self build, various new routes have opened up. A number of these focus on making plots available as part of wider developments that foster a community feel. You get that sense at collective custom build schemes such as Graven Hill (where the Build It Education House project is well underway – see page 62 for the latest update). Here, the council is delivering valuable parkland, open spaces and facilities, as well as enabling hundreds of serviced self build plots.

Graven Hill has been big news since it was followed as part of TV show Grand Designs: the Street. And rightly so. this development could become a blueprint for other councils to deliver high quality, bespoke homes up and down the country. But there’s another approach creating a buzz at the moment: cohousing. With this kind of scheme, the impetus comes from the owners themselves, supported by architects, specialist developers and the local authority. the idea is to build a cohesive community from the ground up; and if the success of Marmalade Lane in Cambridge is anything to go by, we need more of it in the UK. this project is much more than the sum of its parts. the 42 tailored homes, community facilities, garden area and pedestrianised lane at its heart create a multigenerational environment that addresses some of the challenges of modern life. It’s not for everyone, and there are certainly hurdles to overcome, but well-planned cohousing has the potential to be more palatable to local communities than standard developments, too. As Olly Wainwright, the Guardian’s architecture critic, recently put it, “Marmalade Lane is a model of people-centred development.” Find out more in Charley Ward’s interview with Marmalade Lane resident Jan Chadwick on page 146.

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Build It
August 2019

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