We visited, in various combinations of the six, and much to the consternation of the seller who was in the middle of busy holiday-lets and was not happy to have people tramping in and out of the various cottages and farmhouse.
I, personally, was attracted by the layout of the cottages and barns around the central green with mature trees and resembling an authentic village green. It was easy to see that with renovation of the barns into residential units we could bring back a redundant (and rapidly deteriorating) couple of barns, using the same building footprint, but extending the life of the site.
Negotiations proceeded apace and as her previous buyers had withdrawn, the seller was keen to move things on. Thanks to Alan and Jane’s abilities we were able to purchase for a good price and on November 11th 2004 the keys were handed over. The time had been worked out carefully from the astrology chart of the site.
The first part of the journey had been successfully completed. Little did we realise it was just the foothills of a mountain range to come!
Although the planning department in north Dorset was deemed to be more open minded than west Dorset the site was beyond the planning envelope of Gillingham, which was to present a huge challenge. Also the concept of cohousing being new to the planners and there being no handy pigeon hole in which to file us, they were minded to consider the scheme untried and untested, and to reject the whole idea.
Because of this it was decided we needed a lot of networking with the local community and with the movers and shakers within the council and planning department. We met for an evening meal every Wednesday and these times became important for welcoming these folk to join us, to get to know us and to ask all the questions they needed to reassure themselves that we were reasonable people and not a bunch of crazy hippies. In fact, what we were endeavouring to do could be seen as a really good idea!