About Laughton Lodge

About Laughton Lodge

In a nutshell

In 1998 a group of us jointly purchased an old hospital site and converted it into 22 homes of differing shapes and sizes to suit our family needs.

We call ourselves The Community Project Ltd and we live on the edge of the small village of Laughton in East Sussex.

The 23 acres of land and a small number of other buildings on the site provide communal facilities. We have office spaces, guest rooms and events spaces, which are all available to the public.

We do not live “communally”. Instead, our lifestyle resembles the “co-housing” model. This isn’t so well known in the UK as other countries, but we aim to change that.

Our individual homes are private, yet we jointly manage the land, rental spaces and shared utilities such as our bio mass heating system. We are lucky to have natural spring water, great neighbours, lots of land for all our families and animals, and a beautifully peaceful setting.

There is no one specific ideology that defines us, but we have outlined some of our shared goals in more detail below.

Our ethos

We share resources where feasible and aim for our land and facilities to be as sustainable as possible.

We want to live next door to people we know, like and trust. We aim to positively support each other in various ways.

Regardless of liking our neighbours, or agreeing with them, we aim to treat everyone here with respect at all times.

Often, close friendships develop, both amongst the adults and the children.

There are no specific philosophies or lifestyles that we adhere to, and residents bring a multitude of cultural experiences for us all to share.

We are founder members of GENWISE, the UK branch of the Global Ecovillage Network, and aim to adhere to the network’s Dimensions of Sustainability.

GEN is a growing network of regenerative communities and initiatives that bridge cultures, countries, and continents.

GEN exists to build bridges between policy-makers, governments, NGOs, academics, entrepreneurs, activists, community networks and ecologically-minded individuals across the globe in order to develop strategies for a global transition to resilient communities and cultures.

In summary, we are joined by a broad sense or a spirit of community.

Who are we?

We are a group of families and individuals, with around 70 residents when the University kids are at home.

We range in age from newborn to seventies.

Most homes consist of families with one or more children.

We are keen to maintain a balance within the group of both age and family situation.

Some of us are at home engaged in childcare, others have either full or part-time jobs. We have several self employed residents and some are even retired.

Our professions are wide-ranging, including managerial, artistic, teaching, medical, computing, media, financial, to name but a few.

The life of the community

Once a week we have a pot-luck supper in Shawfield, our community building.

Once a month we have a work or “busy” day, where we tackle tasks on the land or in the communal buildings.

Birthdays and seasonal events provide plenty of opportunities for parties.

We encourage members to belong to one or more groups, which carry budgets, although large spends need to be ratified by the main group.

In a more formal manner, we meet once a month for a “main meeting.”

The agenda is circulated in advance, there are minutes taken and the meeting is chaired by rotation. This is where major decisions are taken about any aspect of our communal life and policy issues are aired and discussed.

Occasionally we take an afternoon to look at broader philosophical and social aspects of the community with a forum.

None of these organised community activities are compulsory. Individuals choose how much they wish to or are able to take part in any of these events.

Let’s remember the small people

The children are often seen playing in larger and smaller groups, travelling around the site on their bikes or scooters. They are in and out of each other’s houses constantly.

They have formed their own informal way of operating and it’s noticeable that the older children look after the younger ones.

We have a child protection policy to make sure our children are safe but remind visitors that their children are their responsibility at all times while visiting Laughton Lodge.

The children have the opportunity to express their views at their own monthly Children’s meetings and we encourage them to contribute to main group meetings and work days.