Housing case study 2: The Threshold Centre

A Dorset co-housing project has cut the three main types of domestic carbon emissions – energy, food and travel. The Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm combines small,...

A Dorset co-housing project has cut the three main types of domestic carbon emissions – energy, food and travel. The Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm combines small, self-contained homes with shared facilities, offering an ideal opportunity to invest in green home improvements.

It has installed solar photovoltaics, a rainwater harvesting system and a wood-pellet burning boiler, which provides hot water and heats radiators throughout its 14 homes. An organic fruit and vegetable garden uses homemade compost and rainwater collected from the houses and polytunnel guttering. Produce from the garden is cooked in the co-op, particularly for communal meals.

Rainwater is used for laundry, and all waste water is treated on site. Two cottages use a septic tank and the rest are served by a biodigester, which produces clean water for disposal into a stream on the site. Waste from all households is collected and sorted for council collection, composting or delivery to disposal sites.

Residents also make the most of car sharing, and as a member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme, the centre has received a gold award for the highest standards of environmental achievement.

Threshold was the first cohousing project to join forces with a housing association. Teaming up with Synergy Housing allows it to offer seven affordable rent and shared ownership tenancies. The original members have converted their financial shareholdings into stakeholdings that reflect the value of the unit they live in and are free to leave and can sell or let their residences privately.

Stephen has lived at Threshold since January 2014: “Already it’s been a real exploration and discovery about how a community works,” he says. “I’m intensely interested in our human potential and tend to think of this place as one big experiential workshop.”

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  • For the full article on the growth of co-operation in the housing sector, and for further case studies, click here.
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