The Institute for Urban Affairs and the Institute Social Innovation and Impact at the University of Northampton, have been engaged with members of the innovative neighbourhood housing provider Cannock Mill Cohousing Colchester Ltd. to describe the ambition and creation of the company as one of the case study social enterprises (SEs) in research being undertaken on New Generation Social Enterprises funded by the European Union under its programme ‘Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies project’ (EFESEIIS).
Cannock Mill Cohousing has a fundamental ambition to commission and build low energy and environmentally friendly homes with a shared ‘common house’, land and facilities at Cannock Mill in Colchester (one of the Eastern counties in England). Members believe in the power of individuals coming together as a collective decision-making ‘intentional’ enterprise within a very community-focused setting, and are aiming for the maximum eco-efficiency that collective resources can allow: low energy homes, water efficiency, solar power generation, growing fruit and veg – in other words ‘living lightly’. Central to the company’s ambitions are to provide housing and adjacent facilities that will creatively support an ‘active ageing’ of the residents.
An initial site for the company’s Colchester project has now been purchased and formal planning permission for the proposed buildings and facilities has been recently obtained from the local planning authority. Interviews with core members of the company are being undertaken, plus a planned workshop event to happen over the next few weeks : the context of the company’s ambition is being additionally explored through a compilation of information on other complementary schemes by older residents in other parts of the country to create and manage innovative neighbourhood and housing provisions.