Menu closed Menu open

Emerson College Trust

Forest Row, Sussex,

Client - Emerson College Trust


An army major's former retirement retreat finds a new purpose as co-housing for older people

With a glorious view over the Sussex Weald, Grade II-listed Pixton House was built as the retirement home of Major (later Colonel) Federick Moor of the East India service, a Sussex Justice of the Peace. Originally conceived in Palladian style, the House was developed from the early 1850s. By 1900, fashions had changed, and remodelling works introduced an Arts and Crafts aesthetic. The House and wider site was purchased in 1967 by the Emerson College Trust, an educational establishment inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner.

No longer needed for educational purposes, the Trust have ambitious plans to convert Pixton House into co-housing for older people, via a model that provides for mutual support and co-ownership. The project will create sixteen studio and one-bedroom units using the House and three new-build residences to its rear. At the heart of the space, a large ground-floor room will provide a "Common House": a space for shared meals, meetings and gatherings, supported by a communal kitchen. The site will also feature a treatment room for visiting health and well-being providers. The project aims to create at Pixton a new model; rather than a care facility, this will be a supportive community within accommodation designed to meet the needs of older people, enabling independent living for longer. 

The House will join a number of co-housing exemplars across the country.  The need for housing models that fulfil people's wish for continued autonomy into older age, while reducing isolation and loneliness, was recognised in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, which published its findings in the HAPP12 report in 2012. No less pressing today, the Pixton House project offers a solution that could work for other large under-utilised or redundant heritage buildings. In re-imagining town centres for the future, where residential accommodation may play a larger part, such schemes might help to build mixed and balanced communities.

Through an initial AHF grant the Trust was able to test design options to develop a configuration that would meet older people's needs, whilst seeking to minimise harmful impact on the listed building.  A second AHF grant was combined with a substantial Community Housing Fund grant from Homes England to develop full planning and listed building consent applications. Listed building consent was granted in September 2020 and the Trust is now awaiting full planning approval.  This funding enabled the Trust to meet the requirements for a development in a sensitive scenic location, including detailed pre-application consultations on the design, and traffic, drainage and environmental assessments. 


About Emerson College Trust

Emerson College Trust seeks to offer learning through education, practical initiatives, research and community building, with this project fulfilling its aim to address "the need for human approaches to today's urgent questions". Taking advice from Co-ops UK, the Trust is establishing the P3A Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd, which will own the properties created, ensuring they remain as co-housing in perpetuity. A separate Benevolent Society will be created to purchase some of the units. Residents will have the option to rent from the Benevolent Society at an affordable cost, or to purchase shares combined with making an investment up to the value of their unit. If they wish to move, they will be able to withdraw their capital.  

AHF funding

Project Development Grant - £19,000 (2017)

Project Development Grant - £11,000 (2019)

These grants were made possible by funding from teh Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

External funding

Phase 1 - Private donations (£17,500), Hermes Trust (£1,500)

Phase II - Private donations (£10,000), Homes England (£80,000), ECTL own funds (£3,600)

June 2020

of 1   /