A group of Falmouth residents hoping to bring Cornwall's first co-housing project to the town say the project has taken a significant step forward after being awarded £50,000 of funding.

Ambos - meaning 'agreement' or 'promise' in Cornish - was set up in 2017 to encourage community-led development in and around Falmouth & Penryn.

They want to see a community of affordable homes and businesses, mutually owned and managed, that will remain affordable forever by taking the ownership of the land out of private hands.

Alongside the homes would be shared spaces both for residents and the wider community.

While relatively new to the UK, it is common in the Netherlands.

The residents previously revealed their plans back in December 2018, when they visited Falmouth Town Council to propose the scheme.

At that time they explained they were hoping to create homes for those who earn too much to qualify for social housing but not enough to buy their own property.

According to Ambos' plans, residents would all live in their own separate houses or flats, and there would be a communal dining room for optional shared meals.

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The collective's website explains more about how it will work. The cost of the land and building the homes will be divided into equity shares, acquired through monthly lease payments based on 35 per cent of residents' and users' income.

Shares are therefore acquired at different rates depending on incomes and initial deposits.

Once all the equity is purchased, members' leases are reduced to ten per cent of users' incomes, which ensure all the shared services and spaces and maintained.

If a member leaves, they sell their equity shares and occupancy rights to new members.

Now the project has been given a boost with funding from Homes England.

It means Ambos are back on the search for a site on which to build the development and have also appointed Bristol-based Barefoot architects, who have experience in community led housing.

Miguel Fernandez, from Ambos, said: "They say home is where the heart is, but too often today we build homes without the heart and fail to create a sense of belonging.

"Ambos believe that it can be done better. We believe that places that grow community from the outset have the greatest chance of becoming vibrant, resourceful, resilient and supportive communities. That’s why we have chosen the cohousing model.

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“Cohousing creates places that recognise people's need for private space but at their heart are shared spaces, like workshops, dining areas, office space and gardens.

"We know from looking at other schemes that living this way reduces loneliness and isolation. It encourages neighbourliness. And of course it also makes living more affordable too, which means long term economic security for residents.

"This Homes England funding sets us firmly on a path of making cohousing part of Falmouth’s future”.

Ambos is now actively looking for sites in the area and hopes local landowners will get in touch with land available.

A previously considered site in Tregenver Road has not been totally ruled out but due to potential problems with transferring it the group is spreading the net wider, said Vicky Garner, also from the project.

The group said co-housing was supported within the Neighbourhood Plan for Falmouth and also within national Housing Policy.

Grenville Chappel, chair of Falmouth's Neighbourhood Plan, said: "The Neighbourhood Plan for Falmouth supports co-housing as a way to deliver affordable housing whilst also recognising its potential to bring wider community benefits to the town such as reducing isolation, creating community well-being and sharing resources.

"The Plan sets out a vision for how Falmouth will continue to develop as a distinctive, vibrant, resilient, inclusive and well-balanced town into the future.

"We believe co-housing and indeed Ambos could be an exciting part of that future picture.”

For further information about Ambos or to get involved with the project visit its website www.ambos.org.uk, find it on Facebook at @ambosfalmouth or email hello@ambos.org.uk