Welcome

Larkrise members have come from all walks of life, seeking a place to share similar lifestyles and values where we nurture a sense of belonging, mutual support and friendship. Whilst sharing our interests and learning new skills, we value solitude as well as opportunities for social gatherings. We contribute to the whole community as well as to our own personal lives. Larkrise is a place to fully celebrate life!

Larkrise cohousing is an innovative, community-led housing project. We are working to the ‘One Planet Living’ framework. We aim to build and provide modest homes that are ecological, affordable and attractive, within beautiful grounds, for now and for future generations. Cohousing offers each person easy access to a number of shared resources. For example: appliances and tools, meals in the common house, a communal vegetable garden, wholesale food ordering and car-pooling.

Larkrise is on a sunny, southwest facing site, with beautiful, wide-ranging views towards Hay Bluff. It lies alongside an existing settlement of houses in Much Birch, Herefordshire. Much Birch is six miles south of Hereford on the A 49 Ross-on-Wye road. The village is well served with many amenities, including: a doctor’s surgery, a garage, a primary school, and the Steiner Academy (four minutes away). An hotel, pub, and village shop with a Post Office are also within easy walking distance.

Larkrise is funding an improved and extended footpath along Tump Lane.

Tump Lane is between two major bus routes, providing regular services between Gloucester, Ross-On-Wye and Hereford, and Monmouth and Hereford.

The Site

Larkrise plans for 20 dwellings of one, two, three or four bed terraced and semi-detached houses. The community hall supports the co-housing ethos of Larkrise. Approximately one third of the site will be green space. The landscaping provides footpaths, wildflower meadows, communal productive gardens, orchard and nut trees.

Larkrise will enhance the existing residential area by adding to its parking spaces and reinstating and extending its once well-used play area for children’s recreation. There will be parking on site for the residents and guest of Larkrise, including spaces with electric vehicle charging points.

Craft and artisan workshops are planned for the future.

Dwellings and Surroundings

Designed by John Renshaw Architects, Edinburgh, the dwellings will be terraced in three tiers down the sloping site, intersected by an access road for emergency and service vehicles.

Each accessible dwelling will have its own private garden with bin stores and bike sheds. Bats, insect bricks and bird boxes will be incorporated into the buildings. On the service roads are temporary parking spaces, interspersed with orchard and nut trees. The main car park will be the bottom of the site for the safety of children playing.

Building materials and methods

Larkrise aims to use innovative building materials and methods. Our intention is to create a built environment that has whole life carbon efficiency. This means we are focused on using materials that are carbon efficient in both their production and application. Materials will be as locally sourced as possible. We are excited to be using hemp fibre insulation. This building material supersedes our intention, as it is a carbon sequestering material. It can be entirely sourced with the UK.

We are also exploring using renewable heat sources that are specifically designed for the types of houses we are building, to create further efficiency in our energy use.

Beyond considering the structure of our houses we have considered the construction methods. This enables minimal disruption of the soil and any subsequent release of carbon.

Common House

One concept behind co-housing is that we all have parts of our houses that we use everyday and other parts that we only use occasionally. These occasional use areas, like guest bedrooms, large dining rooms and big open spaces make houses more expensive. At Larkrise, we have designed a common house to provide additional spaces for working, so that the houses themselves can simply provide for our everyday needs. The common house is specifically designed for a multitude of uses including cooking, dining, storing and wash facilities. It will be used to support local, cultural and community activities. At an everyday functional level it will provide office space with internet connection and therapy/guest rooms. Armchairs, books, games and more will provide a cosy, relaxing space for informal get-togethers.

Management of the activities in the common house will be undertaken by the people living at Larkrise.

Quiet space

In an increasingly frenetic world, with so many competing demands for our time and attention, this silent retreat space in the northwest corner of the site offers a precious opportunity for stillness. A safe setting for the experience of tranquility. The enclosed space will be planted with an herb garden.

Artisan workshops and offices

In the northeast corner of the site, we plan for professional artisan workshops and studios to be available for rent, primarily for the artisans and crafters of larkrise, and then to the wider community. As with the dwellings they will be built to the highest sustainable standards and be supplied with utilites. They will be accessible to vehicles.

Big barn

Initially a covered meeting place and storage facility lying alongside the vegetable garden, this will be an area with an infinite number of uses as yet to be fully imagined.

Grounds

The site, overlooking the glorious Herefordshire countryside, is surrounded by native hedging, interwoven with footpaths. Working together, we aim to keep the whole public area well designed, well tended, wildlife friendly and naturally beautiful. The matrix of the site will be seeded and managed as wildflower meadows. The foundational ethos of Larkrise is to tread lightly on the earth, preserving old, planting new, and having fun in the process.

NO DIG Vegetable Garden

Following the teachings of Charles Dowding, a productive fruit and vegetable garden will be developed and will include: NO DIG perennial and annual vegetable beds, compost bins, fruit cages, glass houses, tool sheds and potting sheds. The resulting crops will be used in the common house kitchen.

Car park

The car parking area will be surfaced with permeable paving. A car club will be established at Larkrise to serve the wider community. Electric power points will be available for electric cars. Electricity, water and drainage will allow for cleaning of vehicles and sports equipment.

Playscape

Developed in collaboration with Herefordshire council, the vision for this area is to create a rich and complex natural environment for exploration. All structures and materials will be woven into the landscape of trees, creating a visual harmony that allows the playscape to appear to have grown out of the existing environment. Utilities and permeable paving will be included here for a pop-up cafe, play equipment storage and refuse bins.

We Do Not Inherit The Earth From Our Ancestors; We Borrow It From Our Children

– CHIEF SEATTLE