A group of Dunedin families has bought the former High
Street School and will now start shaping their ideal
neighbourhood. Dan Hutchinson takes a look at what the group is
Members of the Urban Cohousing Otepoti group inspect the
site of their proposed development at the former High
Street School. At the front is Tim Ross, followed by Susan
Jack, Kaleb Jack and Kristin Jack. At the back of the
group, Sue Taylor talks with Alex King. Photo by Dan
A mothballed central Dunedin school is to be given a new
lease of life as a ''co-housing'' development involving about
Urban Cohousing Otepoti Ltd has bought the lion's share of
the former High Street School and plans to build
medium-density, ''low energy'' terraced houses while
retaining the school buildings as a ''common house''.
Twelve families were already involved in the project with
room for another 12, group member Alex King said.
Another member, Catherine Spencer, said the 5000sq m site was
chosen because it was within walking distance of the central
city and had the space they needed.
Other members spoken to by The Star said people had
asked them if they were involved in a cult but that was not
All members would share in the design and operation of their
''neighbourhood'' but each dwelling would have its own title
and people were not sharing their finances, Ms Spencer said.
The common house was for whatever the community wanted and
could include laundry facilities, guest rooms, social areas
or an area for teenagers, she said.
There would be an open day on Sunday at 2pm for neighbours
and others to find out more.
''This is new and we want to have this open day so people
know who we are. We are not a bunch of weirdos, just everyday
people,'' Ms Spencer said.
She said the concept was popular in the northern hemisphere.
There were more than 700 co-housing communities in Denmark
''People have their own dwelling and outdoor space and then
they have the common house.''
The co-housing group and a separate rural Dunedin co-housing
group were formed after meetings earlier this year, run by
Earthsong - one of the first co-housing communities in New
Dunedin City Council city development manager Anna Johnson
said there was flexibility around planning rules when it came
to developments on large sites.
She said the resource consent process did not look at how
people chose to live but considered the scale of the
development, whether the infrastructure could handle it and
effects on neighbours.
High Street School was Dunedin's second-oldest school. It was
established in 1887 and was closed in February, 2011.