November 22 2011

The Big Society: A Call for the Return of Co-operative Housing?

The Big Society

In the run up to the 2010 general election, “The Big Society” constituted a key part of the Conservative party manifesto, aiming to “create a climate that empowers local people and communities,” largely through asking them to volunteer in local initiatives.

In truth, “The Big Society” initiative was met with a great deal of apathy. People questioned how it would help them, balked at the effort they would have to put in, and doubted what overall impact it could have. Whilst this blogger shares some of that apathy, perhaps there is something in this idea if you approach it from a different angle. If you want people to take pride in their community, why not give them the opportunity to design it?

Co-operative housing developments, with their unique take on home design, are not a new idea. In fact, they have been around since the late 18th Century, but were most recently prominent in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, when they were aided by government assistance programs. As this wordpress blog describes, designing this way meant an awlful lot of consultation between the architects and the people for whom the houses were being designed, far more than occurs nowadays.

So in these times of declining community spirit, country-wide riots, and world-wide economic problems; why don’t we look once more to co-operative housing to solve some of our issues? Times might have changed, but the basic ideas can shine through. Consultations may have moved from the pub onto social media platforms, such as twitter and facebook, but by accommodating the end user in the design process they will be able to identify with the finished development, creating a sense of belonging and care for their new community. Add in financial assistance, and modern co-operatives could once again serve those most in need, helping low-income families and young people get on the elusive first rung of the property ladder.

If all this were implemented, would you still be so apathetic about “The Big Society?”

Credits: Image linked to source.

Ashley Roberts

Ashley Roberts is a recent graduate of the University of Nottingham, England, with a Diploma in Architecture and is now studying for his part-three accreditation. Still living in Nottingham, but with strong links to Liverpool and London, he has a passion for the continued and sustainable development of all three cities. Ashley has a particular interest in how we can use green technologies as a catalyst to improve the spaces around us. Follow him on twitter: @ashjroberts

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 6:35 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Non-Profit, Housing, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “The Big Society: A Call for the Return of Co-operative Housing?”

  1. Mark French Says:

    Ashley
    Interesting thoughts. Writing the Ainsley Gommon blog http://ainsleygommonarchitects.wordpress.com did make us think about the different ways that buildings, particularly new homes, can be delivered. Those housing cooperatives built in the 80s have really stood the test of time, because they were designed around the people who were going to live there – truly collaborative working.

  2. Ashley Roberts Says:

    it will definitely be interesting to see how those homes being built now will compare in 30 years time.

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