What we offer

 

Heating and furnishings

Land management

Being an active part of the local community

Sustainability and Energy conservation

Diet, communal meals and whole food orders

Level of communality now and the future plan

Visitors, friends and partners – yours, work weeks, courses and gatherings

Our Neighbours

Children and Parents

Animals

Equal Opportunity

Behaviour

The Local Area

 

We are offering spaces in the three buildings – see the separate “Accommodation” page for details. For the next two to five years, this co-op is very much about bringing the buildings back into life, followed by the land, without wearing ourselves out. No-one works full-time on the buildings, though they are the main focus for some of our current members. This page tells you more about how we live and work at Wheatstone House, our aspirations and about the village and local area we live in. It is designed to help you try and imagine what it would be like to live here.

 

Heating and furnishings

We have installed a district heating system to heat all 3 buildings using wood, mostly our own logs.

 

Each member who benefits is charged up to £20 every month for all heat and hot water. In return you can be warm and very clean! This may seem quite high but is not far off what the average UK resident, not connected to the gas main, pays per month for space heating and hot water. We peg this at £20 per month, to level out summer and winter, so that people don't feel bankrupted in winter after being given a false sense of bills-security in summer.  We take turns lighting and maintaining the boiler, and a turn is a week long at a time.

 

 

Accommodation can be rented out part-furnished or unfurnished, but the shared-house kitchen is fully equipped, as is the communal laundry.

 

Land management

We have 7 acres of land 6 of which we actively manage. We use organic and permaculture principles and own a wide range of tools. We are in the process of creating a land management plan which will be agreed by the co-op, but not all co-op members need to take part in this planning, management or indeed use! An outline is laid out here on a page called “Land plan”.

 

The co-op has to manage trees, wetland and boundaries. Members can choose to help manage the orchards, grass land and kitchen garden. We have a gardening group which decides how to manage these optional areas and members can contribute time or funds or neither and still benefit from this.

 

All members can use all these lovely outdoor spaces, whether you are active in managing them or not - we all benefit from the scything and pruning habits of some members.  The coop would fail without accounting, but will manage fine without any grass management or pruning, so gardening jobs don't count as part of the 3-hours a week minumum work commitment. A housing co-op is an accommodation management company. This one also owns grass lands and woods as a beautiful bonus.

 

Being an active part of the local community

Wheatstone House has been a commune then a housing co-op for nearly 40 years and has at times been an active part of the village. Since the current generation of members arrived, many of our neighbours have let us know that they are pleased that a new group is here improving things in ways they can notice. We aspire to grow this support and even have village open days where people can come and see what we do. In the future our fellow villagers might buy things from us, creating livelihoods for some members. The village has a thriving little magazine called “Leintwardine Life” to which we occassionally contribute articles.

 

On a personal level we have been integrating into the community and have been joining various clubs (history society, drama group, cider pressing club) and taking part in village activities such as the flicks in the sticks cinema and using the community centre pizza-oven. We also regularly make use of the shop, the chippy and the pubs! To live at Wheatstone you don’t have to join in any of this - it’s not every one’s cup of tea, being part of ordinary village - but village life is a more interesting proposition in Leintwradine than in some villages!

 

Sustainability and Energy conservation

In the Secondary rules, the co-op says that it is committed to using alternative and appropriate technology, conserving energy, minimising use of pollutants, exploring and experimenting with systems for self reliance, energy conservation and low impact sanitation.

 

So far we have compost toilets, wetland ecosystem treatment for grey water and road run off, large scale composting, a green electricity provider, shared laundry facilities and we use local and ecologically considered building materials. We grow and harvest some of our own wood, buying extra in from as local a source as possible. We are undergoing insulation of all the buildings and draftproofing windows, to make our newly installed wood fired district heating system more efficient too. In the longer term we hope to extend our rain water harvesting and also our use of solar power and passive solar gain.

 

Diet, communal meals and whole food orders

You can eat what you want, when you want and how you want. All we ask is that you respect other members' rights to do the same. Sharing food is fun though, and a good way to create and facilitate co-operation.

 

Currently we have big co-op meals with all the residents bringing food to share when we feel the need, which turns out to be about once a month. At these meals we make sure there is something to cater to all our different tastes, this includes a meat, vegetarian and vegan option depending on who is around. There is no expectation for new members to take part in communal meals but if you want to there will always be something you like to eat. Earthworm has an account with Essential Wholefood Co-op, through which we make regular bulk orders of food such as rice, lentils and more luxurious foods. We also bulk buy ecologically sensitive cleaning products which we have to use to maintain the health of our wetland waste-water treatment system.

 

Level of communality now and the future plan

Many people expect a Housing Co-op to be like living in a ‘commune’. We aren’t aiming to create this type of living environment. We want people to be able to live next door to each other and work harmoniously together, running the housing co-op and work days. But we don’t prescribe doing each other’s laundry or sharing child rearing and we don’t expect you to give up your individuality and ways of living to be here. What we do expect is for you to respect others rights to live how they want. If you want to share more time, work, food or fun with your fellow co-op members and they are up for it, then great and if not also great. Just like real friendships, neighbourhoods and communities, the co-op needs to grow naturally; not through a system of written rules and metered processes.

 

Some aspects of living here such as the shared heating and sewage system necessitate a greater level of co-operation than in a ‘normal’ privately owned terrace house, but beyond the physical realities of living here the rest is up to you, not the co-op.

 

Within the shared house accommodation (5-7 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen), arrangements regarding cooking, washing up and all the other usual details of house discussions will be a matter for those who share the house, not a matter for the wider co-op. Those already living in this part can share their arrangements with you separately but as a rough guide, food-purchasing, evening meals and housework are all shared.

 

 

Visitors, friends and partners – yours, work weeks, courses and gatherings

 

Personal Visitors: Living in this co-op brings many benefits in terms of sharing resources and having people nearby to cultivate a culture of cooperation with. The flip side of this, is that you do not have as much freedom or control over some spaces in your life as you would if you owned your own home or rented a home where you didn't share anything with anyone else.

 

Because we do share some of our space (for example parking, gardening, the laundry and other indoor and outdoor spaces) having visitors to come and stay is a matter of more careful planning than in private homes. Of course, you have your own private rooms in which you can accommodate all manner of parties and visitors, but we all take everyone's needs into account and tell each other roughly what's going on. You can also make use of guest rooms in co-ordination with the business uses. Obviously, it's OK for partners to come and visit often, but if people are spending very many meals, nights and phone calls here, over a period of time, then they might have to apply for membership.

 

Work Weeks: We have many helpful and skilled friends who want to help the co-op achieve its renovation and land management dreams. Every member shares the creation of our co-op maintenance programmes and recruitment of helpers, season by season. We provide accommodation, fun and food for our helpful visitors

 

Paying Visitors: We are committed to using parts of the house and grounds for hosting events. Paying visitors will use these spaces for learning, training, discussions, inspiration and gatherings. The use of the shared spaces (for business use) is negotiated between the co-op and the business, making sure there is a fair balance. This won't happen often during the renovation, but in the future it will probably become a more important topic of negotiation.

 

In theory we can hold large camps here for up to 28 days per year (including set up and taking down). This could mean up to 100 people right outside your home for several days. Co-op members share the decisions about when these large events take place, and how often.

 

Earthworm isn’t a quiet rural retreat - following the building of new “affordable homes” next door, it is not possible to pretend that we live in unpopulated countryside. We hope that there will be more people visiting and making use of the land and training centre in the coming years. If you don’t like meeting new and interesting people then this place probably isn’t for you. As one member put it, "When there's an event going on, it's like living right next door to a busy village hall!"

 

Partners and Significant others: You can have your significant other/s to visit as often as you want, but as mentioned above, if they are spending more time here than not, they might be asked to apply for membership. That membership is assessed on an individual basis and a new person will have to go through the same membership procedure as the rest of us.

 

Our neighbours

Although we have farmers’ fields on two sides of our property, over the road on the longest side is an ordinary housing estate of 20 'affordable homes' and there is a busy main road on the other side. More houses are also within earshot in every direction, so Wheatstone is not a place for long loud parties or stinky bonfires! We do sometimes have a marquee in the garden with a sound system, but this is made harmonious by having a clear cut-off time for the music, and a clear limit on the decibels. We tell our neighbours what's going on well in advance of large events.

 

We are not a co-op in rural isolation, but part of a large village. In the main, we choose to respect the tranquility of our locality. By night, farm animals and wild owls are noisy and unpredictable, but the current members find this a bonus of living here, not an irritation.

 

Children and Parents

We want a balance of members old and young. There is some play equipment, communal toys, a tree house and a variety of outdoor spaces to excite the imagination of any child. There is a primary school and nursery 5 minutes walk away and a secondary school 5 miles away. There are also home schooling groups in the area.

 

The decision to have children is a personal matter and not one for the co-op to decide. However the co-op can’t tolerate overcrowded accommodation. There is room for some flexibility in how our accommodation is arranged but only at the agreement of the co-op. If your family becomes very large you may have to move out to a bigger home, as more kids want their own rooms. It’s possible that other members might just happen to be leaving at the right times, but we must accommodate enough adults to pay for running and improvement costs and to do the essential maintenance and running of the co-op in the allocated work days.

 

Animals

Every domestic animal on site must have an owner, who is responsible for their animal's wellbeing and behaviour. We have some animals already (2 dogs, a few chickens and 2,000 bees). There is a maximum number of pets and hobby livestock we can support, and this figure will change, being dependant on who lives here already (animals and humans) and how the land is being used. We are very happy to consider applications from people with pets/hobby livestock and each case will be considered separately.

 

The way we are currently managing the land means we cannot accommodate a serious (ie, beyond hobby) population of livestock. We are not up for hosting a business that raises animals for slaughter, either as the main product or a by-product.

 

There are currently some animal free shared spaces to accommodate allergies and some spaces where animals can come so people have their companions with them. If you decide you want to get animals after you become a member this can only be done if the rest of the coop agrees.

 

Equal opportunity for all

We will consider applications from all people whatever age, gender, race, sexuality, ability, health needs, financial situation, complicated living situation etc. If we need to make adaptations to our house in order to accommodate you, we will try to do this bearing in mind what we can afford. Our current rent levels have been set with housing benefit leves in mind.

 

Behaviour

We have a behavioural policy, enshrined in our secondary rules:

 

all members and visitors have the right to be treated with respect. Intimidation, abusive, aggressive or violent behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated’.

 

We hope that there is never a time when we have to deal with unacceptable behaviour. However we have a system in place if we need to and if serious enough this could result in a coop member having to leave. In practice we hope to deal with problems as they arise in a supportive and sensible way that has a positive outcome for everyone involved.

 

The local area - Public Transport, libraries, museums and swimming pools

 

Public Transport: Leintwardine has a few buses to and from Ludlow every day except Sunday. There are also two buses to Knighton each weekday, and a bus to Hereford every Wednesday. Our nearest train station is Hopton Heath which is a pleasant three mile walk or cycle away. Hopton Heath is a ‘request stop’ on the ‘Heart Of Wales Line’ though, which means it only has eight trains (from/to Manchester/Swansea) every day. Craven Arms and Ludlow are both much busier train stations, just under 9 miles away. The cycle to or from Ludlow is much more taxing than the cycle to or from Craven Arms.

 

Libraries: There are libraries all over the place, including a small one right here in Leintwardine, open at least 2 days a week. Bigger ones are found in Craven Arms, Ludlow and Knighton, and these towns also have a selection of museums.

 

Places of Interest: Ludlow has an impressive castle, which you can walk around outside for free, but going inside costs about a tenner. Ludlow is full of small designer shops, and specialist food-retailers and has a different sort of trading in its spacious market place at least four days a week and more in summer. Knighton is also the home of the “Spaceguard Centre”; a space-observational facility which can be visited by arrangement, and is part of the global attempt to get fair warning if the Earth is going to be struck by a giant asteroid!

 

Swimming Pools: There are swimming pools in Knighton and Ludlow, open every day with a good timetable including kids fun hours, swimming lessons, keep fit and same-sex sessions.

 

Leintwardine: Our village has a well-used and recently refurbished community hall, as well as two or three churches that all sometimes host concerts, recitals, classes, choirs or performances. Pretty much everything happens here sometimes, with titles as specific as “Men on Mats – Pilates for men”, and “Irish Country Dancing” as well as all the toddler groups, yoga, art classes and flower arranging you would expect from a cluster of rentable halls in a biggish village in Herefordshire.