In cohousing, ‘common house’ means the building that provides shared facilities and a social hub for the community. In our case, at Cannock Mill Cohousing, the common house is our lovely Grade II listed, timber-framed mill. We fell in love with its historic charm and its pond and the site where we are now building.
Until construction work started on site, we used the Mill for our monthly board meetings and for social events and exhibitions about the project.
We have spent a lot of time and energy discussing options for its future use, guided by our architect, Anne Thorne. This is what we have decided for each of its three floors.
On the ground floor, entered on the level from Old Heath Road the main use will be for two guest rooms, with associated bathrooms. This means that some of us can downsize from our existing family homes and still have visitor accommodation.
Also on the ground floor is the old lean-to, for which a vast range of ‘workshop-like’ functions are competing! Somewhere to maintain bikes is high on our priorities, but then so are hobbies such as textiles, pottery and stone carving. We will have to be at our consensual best to find amicable arrangements.
In all cohousing schemes, an element of shared meals is fundamental. Our dining space and ‘semi-commercial’ kitchen are on the middle floor.
Even better, in fair weather, we have a terrace overlooking the mill pond and our picnic place by the willow tree (carefully retained in the development).
The top floor of the mill is already a lovely space, open up to the rafters and, apart from some thermal insulation, we don’t need to change much.
This large room will be a great place to sit and relax, or do not so relaxing activities. The flexibility of the space on this and the middle floors means that Cannock Mill, our uncommonly good common house, can cope with whatever we decide to do.
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From our planning application, see a full floorplan.