Serene Forest CoHousing
Creative Approaches to Affordable Housing
Northern Rivers and Beyond

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Weekend Conference

19 - 21 October 2018
Macas Camping Ground, Mullumbimby


For further details please contact
Serene Forest Cohousing

Serene Forest Cohousing Northern Rivers

Enjoyable, Affordable, Harmonious Living.
Keeping social connection and need for privacy in balance.

We are building the Social Foundation. Our view is that the quality of personal connection provides the basis to deal with all other challenges along the way. We feel that people with tolerant, patient, mature, thoughtful, kindly, considerate attitudes will have the best chance of sharing housing arrangements successfully.

As a general approach we value a low noise, peaceful and friendly environment, creative layout architecture, cooperation without onerous expectations, and respect for privacy.

One present idea is to design and build withing existing council rules one or two independent houses with 6 large bedrooms each to be shared by 6 agreeable people per house. In addition to the large private rooms some small cabins can also be constructed to house various yoga, pottery and other creative workshop spaces.

If the land is in individual ownership a long 30-99 year lease could ensure security of tenure for the residents. It is also envisaged that residents would setup a contingency fund to be able to pay off any resident who may need to sell out of the arrangement, thus ensuring that the remaining residents have ample time to select a suitable replacement resident.

During our discussions on cohousing options we also explore the principles of effective communication, we build bonds, share thoughts and feelings. We hope that similar attitudes, interests, values and purpose will make harmonious land sharing both possible and enjoyable.

It is envisaged that community members will have independent lives, and will balance privacy with choosing their own level of engagement. Our preference is to allow things to evolve slowly and organically. Cohousing might also appeal to single people who want a viable, constructive, supportive, potentially enduring alternative for next stage of life....


Housing affordability and its social impact is emerging as a major concern throughout Australia. The largest element in household budgets is housing, and house prices have skyrocketed relative to incomes. Strict land use regulations and skewed government policies are placing large segments of the population under stress with negative impacts on social harmony, health and contentment.

According to Political Science economists
Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman
"Housing affordability can be expected to deteriorate more, with dire economic and social consequences. The problem is utterly unviable in the long term. With every passing decade it would get worse, the wider economic costs would become more penalising, the monetary policy more unmanageable and the outcomes more unacceptable."

Cohousing is an alternative development model that can deliver more affordable housing, low impact living and resilient, happy communities. Cohousing is a concept wherein suitable blocks of land are adapted to accommodate two, three or more smaller dwellings with some shared spaces, reducing the overall physical, financial and environmental footprint per household.

Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community without diminishing the privacy of the individual households. Careful preselection, awareness and communication enhancing meetings, sense of connection, and the physical design encourages both social contact and individual space, as well as more efficient use of general resources.

The composition of Australian households is changing: our population is ageing and over 30% of households will be single person households by 2026. Social isolation is a serious emerging issue. There are signs of new, more collaborative paradigms for semi rural living arrangements.

Cohousing has the potential to make buying or renting a home cheaper but also enables sharing of bills, cars and household goods, as well as trading of services like babysitting and care for the elderly. As households collaborate to share resources an informal sharing economy grows, with many financially better off.

Company title is an alternative legal structure, generally much simpler from a planning approvals perspective and in some cases may be doable within existing development controls.

Baugruppen. Literally translating to "building group", baugruppen in effect cuts out developers from developments. The idea is that a group of interested purchasers come together and collectively fund their own community housing project. They are often helped or led through the process by architects, and they get a say in what their resulting homes look like. Generally, these homes are far more affordable, have a focus on quality, sustainability and shared community facilities.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Resources and Links:

Co-operative Living Information
The AGEncy project
Awareness and Communication
Social Habitat Housing
Rural Landsharing Communities
Benefits of Cooperative Housing
Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014
Findhorn Foundation
Regen Villages
Transiting to Advanced Civilisation
Aldinga Arts Eco Village
Brisbane North Eco Village
Mandala Community
Global Eco Village Network
Smart Urban Villages
Thriving, Sustainable Communities
Sustainable Communities South Australia