Monthly get-together

Want to talk about the project? Our next monthly get-together will take place early in July. Email us if you are thinking of coming along or have questions about HCH.

Housing to become a standalone national outcome?

May 10, 2024

Proposals to amend the National Performance Framework (NPF) have been laid in Parliament. A new National Outcome that aims to ensure people “live in safe, high-quality and affordable homes that meet their needs” is included. What this does is highlight the importance of good housing for wellbeing. However, without additional funding, it is difficult to see how it helps. Recent housing statistics show a significant decrease in homes completed (down 11% on the previous year) and started (down 24%). There has been a significant drop in social and affordable housing. For example, housing association new build starts (2,073 homes) in 2023 were at the lowest number since 1988. Local authority starts (1,192 homes) in 2023 were at the lowest number since 2013. [See Scottish Housing News].

Hope Cohousing featured in Women and Home

March 6, 2024

The March edition of Women and Home has an article on cohousing that has a page featuring Hope Cohousing. Complete with a great aerial photo of the Hope, it captures some of the flavour of the project and the thinking that underpins it.

Some sobering statistics from Independent Age

February 12, 2024

Independent Age has launched a new research report on how to improve the lives of older private renters in Scotland. They found that:

  • 39% older private renters live in poverty.
  • 23% more older people experienced homelessness in 2022-23 than 2021-22, up from 891 people to 1,100
  • 65% of the houses lived in by older people are in a state of disrepair.

Download the report from Independent Age.

Scotland’s housing crisis

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

[February 8, 2024]

Scotland is in a housing crisis according to a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA). Respondents also say that housing is the third most important issue facing the country (27%).

The poll also found that 79% think there is not, currently, enough affordable housing. Yet – last week – cabinet secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed the target to build 110,000 homes by 2032 was ‘at risk’. See more in Scottish Housing News.

As people living in the Islands and Highlands know, this particularly affects them. The Scottish Human Rights Commission has recently investigated how issues like energy costs and the lack of affordable and quality housing affect their economic and human rights. See the Commission’s website for details.

Innovation in care

[January 24, 2024]

Collaborative housing and innovation in care (CHIC)Collaborative Housing and Innovation in Care (CHIC) – Project Report. This report, based on three years of research and reflection explores how collaborative housing – like cohousing – can meet the changing care needs of older people. Click on the title above to download.

HCH Christmas Newsletter

[December 11, 2023]

Click to read about the latest developments in the project.

Imagine If

[November 30, 2023)]

Imagine If is a community interest company with a mission to improve spaces that we experience in our daily lives. They want to encourage people to think about what homes could look like – and the role that communal spaces could play in enhancing the experience of living in them. They have been working on a game that helps people to explore local housing design. If you click on the picture above you can watch a short introductory video. Click to play the game.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission investigates the lack of affordable housing in the Islands and Highlands

October 27, 2023

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into how issues like energy costs and the lack of affordable and quality housing affect people’s economic and human rights. Alongside housing and energy costs they are also worried about:

  • Limited access to sufficient and nutritious food
  • Inaccessible healthcare services
  • Access to technology or poor internet connectivity
  • Poverty-related attainment gaps in education
  • Transport connectivity to essential public services and supplies

These are thought to be particular issues for communities in the Highlands, islands and Argyll. A report on its findings will be presented to the Scottish Parliament next year. Members of the Inquiry team have just visited Orkney (26-27th October). See the Commission’s website for details.

HCH receives funding from Orkney Local Action Group

October 20, 2023

Hope Cohousing is pleased to announce that it has received additional Scottish Government Funding worth £3500 from the Orkney Local Action Group. Most of the money will be used to undertake additional work concerning the energy efficiency of the proposed development and other technical construction elements.

The Scottish Parliament debate on community-led housing

April 27, 2023

South Uist and Eriksay
South Uist and Eriksay – home of Stòras Uibhist – Conor Lawless flickr ccby2

View the Scottish Parliament debate on a motion proposed by Ariane Burgess MSP concerning community-led housing. Her motion was as follows:

That the Parliament recognises what it sees as the vital role of community-led housing in tackling what it considers is the rural and island housing crisis, and in supporting those communities towards a sustainable future; believes that there are diverse and significant challenges facing rural and island communities in providing housing and the varied implications this has for sustaining the rural population; recognises what it considers as the enabling role of community housing trusts and organisations, such as South of Scotland Community Housing, Communities Housing Trust and Rural Housing Scotland, which support communities through what it understands can be a burdensome and long process; notes the belief that more can be done to facilitate community-led housing and remove barriers to locally-based projects; further notes the view that there is a need to support community-led affordable housing as a priority, and that the upcoming Land Reform and Community Wealth Building bills have the potential to do so; congratulates those organisations that have accomplished community housing projects and utilised available funds, such as the Rural and Island Housing Fund; considers that there is a need to learn from these organisations and continually improve, and congratulates what it sees as trailblazing projects that are testing alternative models, such as rented cohousing in the Hope CoHousing project in Orkney, and creating place-based communities through models such as Stòras Uibhist and Rural Housing Scotland’s Smart Clachan project.

Liam McArthur our local MSP spoke in support of the motion – and drew attention to the need to provide further support to affordable housing initiatives undertaken by community development trusts – particularly in relation to funding for preconstruction work. He also called for the Minister for Housing to offer similar support for cohousing projects and to include cohousing in Government policy statements. 

The potential of cohousing

April 11, 2023cohousing on Regenerative Scotland

Click to listen to Jenny Rambridge (Hope Cohousing) and  Norri McPhail (Cohousing Scotland) talking with Ariane Burgess about the potential of cohousing in Scotland.

Emma Roddick MSP pays HCH  a visit

April 4, 2023

Emma Roddick MSP pays hch a visit
Visiting the site

We were pleased to meet with Emma Roddick SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands this week. Emma is particularly interested in housing – and in community-led initiatives.

Finally… we have gone out to tender!

March 14, 2023

Last week we finally went out to tender on the building of our revised design. By the end of the month, we should have a much better idea of how much the build may cost. Then begins the process of assessing and reviewing the data – and thinking about the implications for the design and for raising the funds to complete the project.


WeCanMakeFebruary 14, 2023

WeCanMake is a community land trust and neighbourhood test-space in Bristol. Pioneering small-scale community-led housing, they have shown how low-carbon, locally-made Living Rent homes can be created. They are based in Knowle West – an older council-built estate in south Bristol. Watch this documentary short film. It is a great insight into their work and shows how the approach can be replicated by other communities across the UK. Find out more about WeCanMake and download their Playbook at

Our Christmas Newsletter

December 21, 2022

We have put together a Christmas Newsletter which provides an outline of the project and highlights recent developments.

Happy Christmas.

Click to read our Christmas Newsletter (pdf)

Elke Pearson and Trish Spence: For The Makers

December 18, 2022Elke Pearson and Trish Spence

Two founder members of Hope Cohousing  – Trish Spence and Elke (Elli) Pearson – talk about their involvement in the early days of the Workshop and Loft Gallery in St Margaret’s Hope. The Workshop was set up ‘for the makers’ and has successfully run on a cooperative model for over 40 years.

Watch the video on YouTube (15 mins.)

For the Makers was filmed and edited by Martin Laird, researched by Fiona Grahame, and produced by Orkney News Ltd, It is part of ‘Orcadian Stories’ – a series of short filmed interviews of people who have played a part in creating a cultural legacy for the islands.

Annual General Meeting

August 7, 2022

Thanks to all who attended the Hope Cohousing AGM yesterday – Saturday 6th August 2022.

Due to the weather, our planned picnic lunch was eaten indoors next to the heater – but still enjoyed!

Following the official AGM business, there was an interesting discussion about membership and the value of Friend members to the growing organisation. Our Articles of Association state, that there are 2 categories of members – Resident and Friend.

A Friend can vote at AGMs, apply to become a resident, stand for election to be a Director and can attend and take part in all members’ events, e.g. an annual tea party.

There is no membership fee, but if the company is wound up each member agrees they will contribute up to a maximum of £1 to the assets of the company.

HCH now has a Register of Friends and an application form to become a Friend and supporter is available here and can be emailed back to us via :

Imagine if …

July 27, 2022

The Imagine if team have produced a brief online report of the Cohousing Scotland Roadshow (including the Orkney event). It gives an overview of what happened – and the results of the game they developed to help inform housing design choices [click to see the report]. 

Communities taking a lead – creating new homes in Orkney

May 14, 2022

Communities taking a lead

It was great to meet up with others involved with, and interested in, community-led housing – and to discuss how things might be taken forward in Orkney. You can read about it in the Orkney News – and watch a short video featuring two of the Imagine If team who were there to help people explore different housing options.  

Smart Clachan

April 13, 2022

Smart Clachan – an updated version of traditional Scottish hamlets – are community-led projects that look to create affordable housing and shared facilities in remote rural areas. The aim is to enable new households to remain, return and settle. Read more about them in a new blog by Derek Logie and a piece from Rural Housing Scotland

Ariane Burgess MSP visits Hope Cohousing

March 11, 2022

Ariane Burgess MSP (Highlands and Islands) and Convener of the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee visited to find out more about Hope Cohousing. Local Councillor, Steve Sankey, who has been a great supporter of the project since it began, and Kristopher Leask also joined us to talk about the contribution that community-led housing makes to life in rural settings and on islands.  

Another big step forward

March 10, 2022

Hope Cohousing has been awarded just under £50,000 by Crown Estate Scotland.  The funding, from their Community Capacity Grants Programme,  has been made so that we can complete the preconstruction phase, and apply for a grant to construct the houses and make ready the site [Click to see more about the work].  

Great piece on the project in the Press & Journal

February 18, 2022

Click to read the article

Hope Cohousing wins grant for Scotland’s first entirely rental cohousing scheme

January 18, 2022

Hope Cohousing has been awarded over £48,000 by The Scottish Government’s Rural Communities Ideas into Action fund (managed by Inspiring Scotland). This is a massive step forward to create Orkney’s first cohousing development and Scotland’s only entirely rental cohousing scheme.

Jenny Rambridge, chair of Hope Cohousing, welcomed the award for this innovative scheme:

“Alongside the support we’ve had from the local community and from OIC, it is a real boost to receive this grant. It will help us with preconstruction costs and move us closer to breaking ground on our site in St Margaret’s Hope. All of us in HCH are working hard to make our vision a reality – to build affordable, sustainable homes for older people as a lasting community benefit.”

This project is supported by the Rural Communities Ideas into Action fund, supported by the Scottish Government and delivered by Inspiring Scotland to encourage and support innovative approaches to community-led local development in rural communities across Scotland.

For news of recent progress on the site, planning permission and building tenders click here.


updated: June 1, 2024