Cambridge

Inside Marmalade Lane – Cambridge’s most unusual housing estate

Envisage a world where homes are specifically built to suit the needs of residents choosing to live in a safe and spacious community.

Fears about missing the school pickup or frantic calls to the babysitter are now memories of the past as theres always a neighbour close-by to offer a helping hand.

A community calendar tells residents to get involved in the Rubbish Ramble, a green initiative makes the streets of the surrounding area “rubbish free” and collaborative-building projects ensure that everyone is actively involved.

Welcome to Marmalade Lane, Cambridge's very first co-housing project.

Set in Orchard Park, to the north of Cambridge city centre and just a stone's throw from the A14, Marmalade Lane consists of 30 houses and 12 flats, all energy-efficient timber-frame properties priced from £255,000 to £535,000.

With an eco-friendly approach in mind, they are thermally efficient and airtight and a single house can be erected in just two days.

Cambridge City Council originally owned the site and worked closely with residents, Cambridge Architectural Research, C2O Futureplanners and Instinctively Green to craft the citys first council-enabled co-housing scheme.

According to UK Cohousing, there are 21 co-housing communities in the UK, with 37 properties in development and 14 in the earlier stages.

The council appointed joined developers TOWN and Trvselhus to design, plan and deliver the project.

Residents all chip in with communal tasks (Image: Cambridge News)

Marmalade Lane also incorporates communal waste stores and 146 cycle parking spaces, with minimal car parking spaces.

It is designed to attract a diverse range of residents, including downsizing couples and families with young children.

This is no ordinary developer-driven estate. On closer observation, the site sits on a pedestrianised lane where a Swingball pole and football goalposts line the street as a place for outdoor activities.

The common house, a focal building for the co-housing community includes a playroom, guest bedrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms, and a double height Great Hall for shared meals and parties.

Members of the community have recently invested in an electric car where it is encouraged that they all share trips to reduce their carbon footprint.

“All properties pay a service charge to equip and maintain facilities, says Frances Wright, 52.

Resident Frances Wright (Image: Cambridge News)

A resident of Marmalade Lane, she has lived in one of the first-floor flats since January this year.

"There is a community agreement that people participate in four community work days a year and are an active member of at least one working group.

"In practise, it relies on people doing a lot more than that depending on their own interests."

The majority of residents moved into Marmalade Lane between December 2018 and January 2019.

Co-housing residents were actively involved in overseeing the management and sale of the properties. Planning permission was submitted in December 2015 and granted the following October. Building construction commenced in June 2017 and was completed at the start of this tear.

Take a look inside Marmalade Lane (Image: Cambridge News)

Sitting in the common house, where an airy double-height dining room leads to a cosy seating area around a fireplace, it has the ambiance of a lively hostel common room with visitors welcomed to wander upstairs to the yoga and ping pong rooms.

“We try and have some structure to the cleaning rota, the quarterly work days," says Mike McMinn, 67.

"There has to be a formality to it. Someone is responsible for buying, preparing and serving the food.

“We tend to have 30 people eating together twice a week at the communal meal out of a population of 65 adults and 20 children.

“It was exactly five years ago that we went to the open day to the date we have moved in.

"In the community, I am looking forward to maintaining my bike and starting a wood work project. I am quite active in supporting people looking after the grounds and helped build the compost bin."

Similar to other co-housing communities nationwide, there are clear benefits to multRead More – Source

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