Wednesday 28th November 2018: Housing Co-Ops and Tech Co-Ops: Combining the Movements

Sorry I thought this had been posted already!


Hundreds of housing co-ops are using technology to manage their communities and activities. Some are even home to progressive technologists, and are hotbeds of radical innovation.

We’ll showcase exciting projects, outline difficulties and challenges when it comes to developing and implementing technology, and open a debate on how the tech co-op scene and the housing co-op scene can work together to solve issues in co-ops and in wider society.

Levent Kerimol

Lev works at the new resource and advice hub, hosted by CDS Co-operatives and funded by the GLA. He was previously in the GLA Regeneration team, leading on affordable workspace, and establishing the Small Sites Small Builders programme ( He contributed to the London Plan and has managed a range of masterplans, developments, and public realm projects around London. Lev also worked with LB Lewisham on the early stages of the RUSS project at Church Grove.

Leo Francisco

Leo lives in Gung Ho housing co-op in Birmingham (currently at and will talk about their plans for various anti-capitalist/solarpunk tech hijinks: setting up air quality monitoring station, network-wide adblocking, running a tor relay, and peer2peer and punk2punk sharing amongst radical housing co-ops.

Nick Sellen

Semi-nomadic sometime frequenter of He will talk about the co-operatively run house project, the open source software projects it supports (,, and showcase the super cool tech infrastructure that monitors resource usage around the house. He’s also looking to find people to create a similar project in the UK.

Szczepan Orlowski

Szczepan lives in Sanford housing co-op (, the oldest purpose-built housing co-op in the UK. The co-op has recently overhauled G suite in favour of Nextcloud. Earlier this year Sanford kickstarted a Community Land Trust initiative made of housing activists from local community groups and several other housing co-ops in South East London ( Szczepan would like to outline the challenges they are facing and discuss potential collaborations between housing and worker co-ops.


That’s fecking brilliant. Nice one!!!

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Looks great. I am part of both these fine structures :slight_smile: If anyone went to this and would be up for catching up over the next couple of days in London, please give me a shout! Interested to hear what’s on the table at the moment.


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Potential future workstreams that came up in discussions



  • Contact details
  • Culture / ethos
  • Joining criteria - council waiting list or other
  • Their type of housing (space in a shared house or a range of 2 bed 3 bed units etc)
  • Current availability – a central place to advertise availability in all co-ops

We have roughly tried to map their locations (in London) based on registered postcode

Co-ops UK lists them with a little more detail when you click through but nothing more than contact details



There is a lot of talk about Crowdfunding for CLH, some have done it (and it has similarities to Community Shares that a CBS can raise) This is likely to be more than just a tech task, and may have financial regulations to think about.

There are platforms to invest in property in small amounts. There is a custom build developer who has brought out - which feels a little more aligned.

  • Could there be a way to manage Loanstock or Community Shares? that tech can help with? A matchmaking service for this kind of investment, perhaps?

  • Is there some way of ‘scraping’ the FCA database of registered co-ops to look at accounts and understand who has relatively larger reserves, and perhaps encouraging them to do more. Especially if this can be combined with the above.

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Digital tools can help in searching for and identifying sites landinsight is a time saving tool, as it layers many sources of information, mapping Land Registry freeholds and leaseholds, companies house, surrounding planning applications, etc. and you can put in some search criteria etc.

GLA Small Sites Small Builders has the following map, which has all publicly owned land (land registry boundaries) It’s not the same level of functionality as above, but publishes the information. have been doing their own mapping. Initially Hackney, now LBTH – with a view to identifying opportunities from an urban perspective, not consiering public and privately owned sites. They are keen to see sites go to communities.

There may be a tech solution with GPS etc as it needs a bit of professional judgement

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Just to mention - in terms of directories of existing UK housing co-ops and ‘scraping’ the FCA database of registered co-ops, not all maybe FCA registered?

However there are also these listings:
(Radical Routes combines activist housing co-ops and worker co-ops, Webarchitects is an associate member)
(Diggers and Dreamers is long-established “guide to communal living”)

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Thanks to everyone who joined, cheers Lev for distilling the challenges we discussed. There is a point raised by Linda of CDS, which Lev suggested adding as well:


A quick ‘back of the envelope’ development appraisal tool. A little like an online mortgage calculator.


  • Group to input a neighbourhood and potential mix for a site they are looking at (say 3 x 3 b houses and 3 x 2 b flats).

  • A basic way of assessing the costs based on a square meter rate (maybe some adjustments for height, space, construction type, house type and finish)

  • An indication of prices / rents and running costs (with land cost or without)

The basic viability equation is very simple, and levels of detail could be gradually added. It would help people more quickly refine their ideas into something realistic rather than assuming everything that everyone wants will be possible, when in reality there will be compromises. It will also point out where there are likely to be financial gaps that need to be addressed.


Perhaps we could organise a half-day design meeting in Space4 sometime late January and invite CoTech members to drop-in? Would be great to take concrete steps to address these issues. After all we ended the meetup with a feeling that we should (and can) work together!

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You can also scrape some data from

  • which is the directory of intentional communities in the UK
  • which is the Confederation of Cooperative Housing

Wondering if anyone would appreciate some advocacy of linked open data directed towards diggers and dreamers? Chris Coates (a central person historically at least) lives in the same cohousing community as I do. Contact me directly if possible.